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I am puzzled by the comments of one of the members that  JULIUS CAESAR is an "awful" movie in that it bears no resemblance to the play.  After watching it, I reread the play and the movie is remarkably faithful to the Bard.  The speeches are verbatim.  It is true that some scenes are missing, for example, a very brief scene with Portia and Brutus.  But for the most part, Mankiewicz was faithful to the play.  Perhaps the commentator has not read the play recently.

 

Are you sure the major complaint from that poster wasn't just that they couldn't get used to the idea of hearing the character of Mark Antony being played by someone who kind'a mumbled and had a nasally tone to his voice???

 

LOL

 

(...sorry, couldn't resist...maybe there IS no..ahem.."Method" to my madness here, huh!)   ;)

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Although I think that Brando was a class A jerk, I have to admit that his speech over Caesar's corpse was electrifying.  No mumbling there. Gielgud was excellent, as was O'Brien.  Mason, of course, was born to play Brutus.  Ironically, Louis Calhern's portrayal of Caesar was the weakest performance in the film.

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Heresy Alert:  

 

In one of the posts, the writer commented that Mason was no Cary Grant.  This is true.  Grant was a great star.  Mason was a great actor.  Big difference.

 

I shall wait calmly while the sky falls on my head.

 

 

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Heresy Alert:  

 

In one of the posts, the writer commented that Mason was no Cary Grant.  This is true.  Grant was a great star.  Mason was a great actor.  Big difference.

 

I shall wait calmly while the sky falls on my head.

Can't image you getting much of an argument. I really like Cary Grant -- good actor, great star. But as you say, Mason was a great actor.

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Heresy Alert:  

 

In one of the posts, the writer commented that Mason was no Cary Grant.  This is true.  Grant was a great star.  Mason was a great actor.  Big difference.

 

I shall wait calmly while the sky falls on my head.

 

I'm not sure if you've seen Penny Serenade (1941) or not, but it was one of only two Oscar nominations Grant got and it is easily one of the finest performances ever captured on film. He has one scene where he has to beg a judge to allow him and Irene Dunne to keep their adopted daughter and it is stupendous.

 

there is also Sylvia Scarlet and His Girl Friday, in which he is better than anyone else could be in the role, ditto really Arsenic and Old Lace.

 

I'm not going to get in to weighing his talent against Mason's, I'd really say they were of equal talent, but don't shortchange Grant (lord knows that happened enough times when he was on earth.)

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Yeah manderstoke ol' boy, and let us not forget how Archie was always so hampered by his lack of good looks too here, dude! ;)

 

Actually, I guess I pretty much agree with your take on your "Mason vs Grant comparison", though mostly in the realm of their abilities to "stretch" perhaps, but I have to wonder why you picked Cary to make your point about what an exceptional actor James was?

 

(...notice I said "picked" and not "picked on" here, as I don't think you were doing that, but still, why Cary?)

 

HEY, here's a thought. Because both of them are in the same film, if TCM would ever show NORTH BY NORTHWEST(yuck, yuck), I'd say you might find Cary's acting in it is just as good as James' is in it.

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Thank you for your responses, I enjoy reading them (and the sky has not fallen on my head - yet.)  I only chose Grant because I was responding to an earlier post that compared the two invidiously, in Grant's favor.  I loved Cary Grant on the screen - such charisma, such fine comic timing.  But, with only two exceptions - Notorious and None But the Lonely - he never played any other character but the one.  No range at all.  Although, I suspect he could have become a better actor, but he decided not to.  None But the Lonely was a serious commercial flop.  To paraphrase Mason (referring to himself), in order to become a great film star, as opposed to a great film actor, one had to find an image and polish it forever.  Something that Mason could never quite bring himself to do.  Grant did and it worked very well for him.  The price he paid was to remain quite narrow and limited and not take chances in his roles or career.  As noted, it was a very successful strategy as audiences loved him.  Including me.

 

Yes, I've seen Penny Serenade and don't like it, just can't get into sentimental baby stuff.  And I never cared for Irene Dunn, even though she looked like my mother.

 

In contrast, Mason constantly attempted to "stretch" his range and was a director's dream.  Lumet said that the three finest actors he ever worked with were Mason, Claude Rains, and Henry Fonda.  Kubrick described Mason as the most professional actor he ever met.  Some of Mason's limitations were that he was often a poor judge of material and he constantly ran afoul of the moneymen, whom he despised, seeing them as parasites living off the hard work of actors, writers, etc.  Well, what else is new?

 

 

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Yes, I've seen Penny Serenade and don't like it, just can't get into sentimental baby stuff.  And I never cared for Irene Dunn, even though she looked like my mother.

 

 

sigmund-freud-600x300.jpg

 

"Yah, or maybe BECAUSE she looked like your mother, perhaps?!"

 

LOL

 

(...sorry manderstoke ol' boy...just couldn't resist..."smarta$$" here, remember?!) ;)

 

Liked your total reply down there, my friend. Very well reasoned and worded.

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I agree that Mason was a great actor but, after leaving the British film industry, having made a collection of films there (many of them heavy breathing costume melodramas) that had him less than thrilled (excluding Odd Man Out, his personal favourite, I believe), he headed for the Hollywood shores.

 

His film record during the late '40s and throughout the '50s in America was, I believe, a very spotty one as far as good films were concerned. It doesn't seem to me that American audiences ever really embraced him as an actor, let alone star. Arguably the peak of Mason's popularity was in 1954, when he not only added greatly to the status of the Star Is Born remake, but appeared as Captain Nemo in a big hit for Disney, 20,000 Years Under the Sea. He had also been impressive as Brutus in the all-star Julius Caesar.

 

It was probably at this point that Mason was at the peak of his commercial value, possibly on the verge of real stardom with American audiences. But it didn't happen.

 

At this precise moment Mason elected to do stage work in Stratford, Ontario (to decidedly mixed critical reviews) and upon his eventual return to the U.S. film capital no great projects awaited him. It was during this period, however, that Mason appeared in Bigger Than Life, as a normal family man whose personality undergoes a dramatic change when he becomes addicted to a drug (cortisone, I believe). It's an impressive performance but I don't believe a commercial hit.

 

A few years later he enjoyed the status of playing a smooth sophisticated villian in North By Northwest but it's third billing, definitely taking a backseat to star Cary Grant. That Hitchcock venture has to be, along with A Star Is Born, Mason's best remembered film outing of the '50s, I would think.

 

Unjustifiably, an outstanding production, Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Five Fingers, with Mason perfectly cast as a servant in the Istanbul British Embassy passing secrets to the Germans during WW2, is exasperatingly little known by many buffs today. Certainly it's a sophisticated, clever spy drama that fully deserves to be better remembered. If I had to go with one Mason film as my favourte, Five Fingers would be it.

 

It was after Mason gave his wonderfully nuanced performance as Humbert Humbert in Kubrick's Lolita that he became increasingly more of a European cinema character actor. No longer with illusions of stardom (if he ever did have any), Mason found this latter period, now free of the Hollywood film industry, one of his most satisfying as an actor.

 

Close to the final performance of Mason's career was in 1984's The Shooting Party. As a member of the British aristocracy just prior to WWI who realizes that the his class's way of life was drawing to a close, Mason is quietly wonderful. It's a subtle performance of dignified restraint. Mason's ability as a character actor was magnificently unimpaired by time and failing health at the time of the film's production.

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James Mason is a favorite of mine,i have seen more than 90 movies with him in the cast -still missing quite a bit- it would be nice if they could rebroadcast an interview he did with Johnny Carson in the late 70's or early 80's,i remember he said the worst film he ever made was a movie titled 'Kill' it was directed i think  by Romain Gary a famed writer who used to be married to Jean Seberg,the movie is actually pretty bad.He did many movies for the money but he also liked to work,He was an outstanding actor.

I vaguely remember the Carson interview of James Mason (maybe the only time he was on Carson?)  He was interesting, very candid.  I don't remember if Johnny asked him about his "worst movie" or if Mason just voluntarily brought that up.  I don't believe anyone here mentioned Mason's portrayal of Rommel in THE DESERT FOX, and Mason did Rommel again in a later movie.  I like Mason as an actor , when cast in certain types of roles he's very good. Some movie characters almost demand a James Mason type to work well.

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One of Mason's best roles came a few years before his death was as Ed Concannon, the high priced attorney in "The Verdict". The Catholic Church hires him to go up against Paul Newman's character in a wrongful death suite. A wonderful role for Newman{ another one he lost out for Best Actor ], Mason also got a nomination for Best Supporting[ he didn't win either]. He was wonderful to watch..

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One of Mason's best roles came a few years before his death was as Ed Concannon, the high priced attorney in "The Verdict". The Catholic Church hires him to go up against Paul Newman's character in a wrongful death suite. A wonderful role for Newman{ another one he lost out for Best Actor ], Mason also got a nomination for Best Supporting[ he didn't win either]. He was wonderful to watch..

Mason was originally to be cast in the role of Newman's assistant, eventually played by Jack Warden, but wanted the role of Concannon instead. Mason is highly effective as the smooth, unscrupulous "Prince of Darkness" head of the law firm opposing Newman.

 

More than a mere courtroom drama, The Verdict is a gripping tale of a man having a second chance. It boosts one of the great performances of Paul Newman's career.

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I vaguely remember the Carson interview of James Mason (maybe the only time he was on Carson?)  He was interesting, very candid.  I don't remember if Johnny asked him about his "worst movie" or if Mason just voluntarily brought that up.  I don't believe anyone here mentioned Mason's portrayal of Rommel in THE DESERT FOX, and Mason did Rommel again in a later movie.  I like Mason as an actor , when cast in certain types of roles he's very good. Some movie characters almost demand a James Mason type to work well.

I forgot about The Desert Fox, mrroberts. Another highly effective Mason performance.

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Let's not forget Journey to the Center of the Earth, one of my favorite Mason performances and one of the great adventure films. Mason is terrific, even delivers the occasional comic line perfectly.

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I agree with all the positives about James Mason and I don't categorize him with Cary Grant or others in the "star" slot, I characterize James Mason as an actor, somewhere on a scale with the following two:  

 

Claude Raines

George Saunders

 

He could carry a story if the script was right or he could support a great "character" role.  I too loved him in "5 Fingers" and wonder where the heck it is in the TCM library that we never see it.  I would love a week of James Mason, George Saunders and Claude Raines...what a broad spectrum of movies that would be. 

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I too loved him in "5 Fingers" and wonder where the heck it is in the TCM library that we never see it.

 

TCM showed a quite beautiful print of Five Fingers a few years ago. I'm very glad that I recorded it since I quite love this film. Mason's cooly collected performance, with his dry delivery of intelligent dialogue, is perfect. And the final scene in the film deserves to rank as one of the classic moments of delicious irony on screen.

 

But it's a Fox film and TCM's contracts to show single or multiple broadcasts of that studio's product is hard to predict. Popular Fox productions like Laura or Mark of Zorro have come on quite frequently. I suppose that one of the ironies of Five Fingers is that it isn't shown more often because it is probably not one of the more popularly requested titles. Yet, how does it have a chance to become more popular if film buffs, for the most part, don't have the opportunity to see it in order to discover what a neglected gem this film is?

 

fivefingers_zpsed54edd2.jpg

 

Mason, with Danielle Darrieux, in Five Fingers.

 

It's Darrieux who has my favourite line of dialogue in the film. As a Countess known for her affluent lifestyle and lavish parties, she at one point says to a German emissary staring longingly at her, "Please do not look at me as if you have a source of income other than your salary."

 

Ah, thank you,  Joseph L. Mankiewicz!

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Danielle Darrieux is still alive at 97..she was honored  and interviewed on French tv in 2010,she is fluent in English,she could say a lot of things if TCM would interview her she would have a lot to say,i do not know about the state of her health but it would be worth it if TCM inquire.

It's a great idea. But, as you said, who knows how delicate her health may be today. She was certainly terrific in Five Fingers. It would be great if she had an anecdote to share about the making of the film.

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Yet another knockout Mason performance (and a very unexpected piece of casting): playing Dr. Watson to Christopher Plummer's Sherlock Holmes in Murder By Decree.

 

murderbydecree_zps0f179a67.jpg

 

This is an atmospheric (if, at times, somewhat grim) suspenser, with Holmes on the trail of Jack the Ripper.

 

Mason has an unexpectedly beguiling and slyly comic scene in which he tries to trap a pea that is rolling around his plate only to have Holmes crush the pea with a fork and hand it to him. Mason responds with a disappointed pout in which it is apparent that he doesn't like to have his peas crushed. 

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TCM showed a quite beautiful print of Five Fingers a few years ago. I'm very glad that I recorded it since I quite love this film. Mason's cooly collected performance, with his dry delivery of intelligent dialogue, is perfect. And the final scene in the film deserves to rank as one of the classic moments of delicious irony on screen.

But it's a Fox film and TCM's contracts to show single or multiple broadcasts of that studio's product is hard to predict. Popular Fox productions like Laura or Mark of Zorro have come on quite frequently. I suppose that one of the ironies of Five Fingers is that it isn't shown more often because it is probably not one of the more popularly requested titles. Yet, how does it have a chance to become more popular if film buffs, for the most part, don't have the opportunity to see it in order to discover what a neglected gem this film is?

 

fivefingers_zpsed54edd2.jpg

 

Mason, with Danielle Darrieux, in Five Fingers.

 

It's Darrieux who has my favourite line of dialogue in the film. As a Countess known for her affluent lifestyle and lavish parties, she at one point says to a German emissary staring longingly at her, "Please do not look at me as if you have a source of income other than your salary."

 

Ah, thank you, Joseph L. Mankiewicz!

Great line lol. Thanks for reminding me of it. A couple.of.years back,.FMC was showing.FIVE.FINGERS.occasionally. Another Fox.film that has Mason in it, THE MARRIAGE GO ROUND, has been shown on that channel this past year. Here, Mason is not very good, imo, as he isn't as deft.with comedy as Cary Grant (who would have been perfect in the role); it doesn't help.that.costar Susan Hayward is not great.in comedy either. It is still enjoyable, and brings out Mason's creepiness quotient, as a hapless college professor drooling for Julie Newmar (who wouldn't?), a free loving Swede who sees him as the father of her child. As with most.60s sex comedies, it is dated, but enjoyable nonetheless.
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I forgot about The Desert Fox, mrroberts. Another highly effective Mason performance.

 

Besides his performances as Rommel in "The Desert Fox" and "The Desert Rats," Mason played another interesting German officer in the World War I drama "The Blue Max."

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 Another Fox.film that has Mason in it, THE MARRIAGE GO ROUND, has been shown on that channel this past year. Here, Mason is not very good, imo, as he isn't as deft.with comedy as Cary Grant (who would have been perfect in the role); it doesn't help.that.costar Susan Hayward is not great.in comedy either. It is still enjoyable, and brings out Mason's creepiness quotient, as a hapless college professor drooling for Julie Newmar (who wouldn't?), a free loving Swede who sees him as the father of her child. As with most.60s sex comedies, it is dated, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Arturo, Mason appeared in few comedies, and I can't recall anyone ever extolling the actor for his comedy technique.

 

Yet I have vague memories of being impressed by him in A Touch Of Larseny, a sly 1959 comedy that I haven't heard of being available now in some 30 years or so. I guess it's just one of those films of which few have heard that may linger in a rights hell that noone cares to sort out because there's no demand for it. It's been so long since I saw it that I can't relate real specifics about it (something about being a military man who disappears onto a south seas island in some kind of money scam, I believe) except that I thought both the film and Mason very good the one time I saw it. It co-stars George Sanders and Vera Miles, and it would be terrific if TCM would broadcast a copy of it, assuming that such a thing is even possible.

 

Thinking about it now, though, some of Mason's ability at successfully playing subtle humour on screen was on display in his interactions with needy Shelley Winters in Lolita.

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