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James Mason


manderstoke
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Ah, now this reminds me of a little story I once watched Robert Goulet tell on some talk show years ago(sure wish I could remember which one exactly), and as I recall right after Richard Burton had died in 1984.

 

(...the following story is rated PG-13)

 

As I recall, the host of the talk show had asked Goulet about his friendship with Burton which had been formed during the time they were both cast in the original Broadway production of CAMELOT during the early-1960s.

 

Goulet in his efforts to show why Burton was one of the more notorious "ladies men" of his era, would tell the tale of one particular incident that Burton himself would relay to Goulet during their mutual time in the aforementioned Broadway production, and one which while never actually naming the names of the people involved other than Burton, Goulet would do vocal impressions of while relaying this story.

 

It seems Burton had been strongly suspected of carrying on a little affair with the wife of a very prominent fellow British actor who had also made it big in Hollywood, and who with his wife owned a mansion in Beverly Hills. On evening and during a party at said mansion, one to which Burton had been invited and had showed up, the host of this party asked Burton into his private study to discuss a little matter that  had been weighing heavily on his mind, and while discussing this little matter, the host would pull down from a display case a small caliber revolver and begin to clean it. 

 

The host then said something to the effect of, "You know Richard, I've recently been asked to play a part in a film in which the character I play is a rather jealous husband. In this film there's a scene where I confront the man I suspect of carrying on an affair with my character's wife, and in that scene my character must make a decision if he thinks just offering a mild warning to the other man would do the trick in ending that man's involvement with my character's wife, or if perhaps more stringent methods might be called for. What do you make of this?"

 

Goulet, in a pretty good impression of the man said Burton's reply was, "I would think the warning would suffice."

 

(...and yes, as I'm sure you've probably guessed by now, the vocal impression Goulet did of the host of the party in Burton's story sounded a heck of a lot like the very subject of this thread) ;)

Yes, that is very illuminating info.!  (as Sherlock Holmes would say.  I make a better Dr. Watson myself).

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I am definitely in the pro-James Mason camp. I first saw him in "A Star Is Born" and was blown away by how good he is. I think, though the movie is Judy's showcase, one still comes away equally moved by his performance. (Those who like to complain that Grant - one of my favorite actors btw - never received a competitive Oscar should be reminded that he turned down the lead in a flm such as "A Star Is Born" to make a fluffy, forgettable "Room for One More" - allegedly too worried about his star image taking a hit playing an alcoholic fading star- as well as working with the troubled Ms. Garland.) Too bad Mason was so dismayed by Peter Sellars's shenanigans during the making of "Lolita" as to think it became a Peter Sellars vehicle, because Mason was wonderful in the movie (Sellars, obnoxious as usual). I would hve loved to have seen him in "Who's Afraid of Viginia

Woolf" though Burton was great in the role. His screen time in "North by Northwest" may be limited, but clearly his star persona and performance make it a co-starring role.

Ah, that voice and accent -just loved him!

I too was touched by A Star is Born.  James and Judy  beautifully portrayed in their roles.  Yes, Cary Grant did the right thing.  I think his wife Betsy Drake was in Room for One More with him.  Cary is one of my favorite actors too, but lately James Mason tops my list.  Yes, Peter Sellars' shennanigans would have gotten to me too!  James superbly portrays Humbert despite Peter as the infamous Clare Quilty.  I think James would have been great in the Virginia Wolf film too!  Richard B. gives a sensitive, fine portrayal.  The firs ttime I saw it in the 80's I was shocked at the deliberate swearing of Liz T's character.  AT the end when the charades are over and the true sensitive tragedy of their family is revealed, one can see the sense behind it all.  Just recently I looked up the VW film to see if what I had inferred was correct, and yes it was.  Sadly, they were at war with each other over the son that never was!  Not being able to face reality, Liz's character carries on, often profanely.  The professor, Ricard's character responds in kind.  And the new teacher and his wife are over for dinner - what a doleful dinner party!  THe climax is the ultimate tragedy.  A friend of mine who recently viewed the film wondered what it had to do with Virginia Wolf!  Glad Peter was not in that one.  Not a comedic nuance!  I prefer Inspector Clouset to remain the bumbling detective and Chance, really one of his best in "BEing There".

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Yes, that is very illuminating info.!  (as Sherlock Holmes would say.  I make a better Dr. Watson myself).

 

Thanks, MCannady.

 

I suppose the primary reason I've always remembered that story of Goulet's was because, first, I remember him telling it so well, and secondly because BOTH subjects of his story had those unforgettably distinctive voices, and one can readily hear those unforgettably distinctive voices in one's imagination reciting those words in it. 

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Thanks, MCannady.

 

I suppose the primary reason I've always remembered that story of Goulet's was because, first, I remember him telling it so well, and secondly because BOTH subjects of his story had those unforgettably distinctive voices, and one can readily hear those unforgettably distinctive voices in one's imagination reciting those words in it. 

I was once told by an impressionist that the key to doing Mason was to squeeze one's butt cheeks together and pretend to be constipated.

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I was once told by an impressionist that the key to doing Mason was to squeeze one's butt cheeks together and pretend to be constipated.

 

LOL

 

So, did the guy ever tell ya the key to doin' a Burton impression?

 

MY guess would be to think of blowing out all the candles on a birthday cake while doing it.

 

(...don't ask me why...the thought just came to me somehow) ;)

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Thanks, MCannady.

 

I suppose the primary reason I've always remembered that story of Goulet's was because, first, I remember him telling it so well, and secondly because BOTH subjects of his story had those unforgettably distinctive voices, and one can readily hear those unforgettably distinctive voices in one's imagination reciting those words in it. 

Those voices are quite distinctive!  In fact, there is another British actor who has a marvelous voice that is similar; Richard Todd.  But noone could mistake the initial two that were just mentioned!  I'll bet that the friend did not have to worry about his wife cheating with that person again.  With the possibility of a serious retaliation, I am sure he got the message loud and clear!  I too can hear their mellifluous voices in my mind's eye!  I had to watch The Seventh Veil again last night and even re-watched The Rains of Ranchipur!  Both of these actors left an indelible positive mark on the film industry of yesterday.  Neither will have their star quality diminished as special fans like us appreciate their superb acting skills and "marvelous voices"!

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MCannady1:  If you want to see a different side of Peter Sellers (not 'Sellars', btw), check out the 1970 movie 'HOFFMAN' co-starring Sinead Cusack.  He's neither like Inspector Clouseau nor Chance. 

 

     Also:  I rather liked the 1966 UK spy movie 'DEADLY AFFAIR, The' starring James Mason.  I know there was a glut of spy flicks in the late '60s and some of them were downright Bad with a capital 'B'.  This one isn't.  Most enjoyable for my 2¢ worth.  I'd recommend it to anyone who's not seen it. 

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Yes, one of the most memorable qualities of James Mason is his wonderful voice that can reflect love and passion, veiled anger,

deep regret, sardonic humor, etc.  I had seen many of his films on TV growing up in the 50's and 60's.  I was 12 when I first saw The Seventh Veil  on TV.  It was one of my mom's favorite films.  Certainly James is very impressive in his role as the seemingly sadistic Nicholas Cunningham, a task master who constantly pushes his protegee Francesca (Ann Todd), to ultimately become a well-known and admired pianist. 

 

It seems to be a conflicting issue about him taking his cane and striking her hands at the piano (when she refuses to continue and plans to marry someone else).  One friend thought he had struck the keyboard in the vicinity of her hands, frightening her into submission!  This could be the intention of the novelist;  implying that her hands  are bandaged only because of her psychological scars.  She feels she can never play again and he admits his anger with himself.   AS the story progresses, we do discover his vulnerability and hidden love for his ward!   A superb showcase for the viewer's entertainment and emotions!

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MCannady1:  If you want to see a different side of Peter Sellers (not 'Sellars', btw), check out the 1970 movie 'HOFFMAN' co-starring Sinead Cusack.  He's neither like Inspector Clouseau nor Chance. 

 

     Also:  I rather liked the 1966 UK spy movie 'DEADLY AFFAIR, The' starring James Mason.  I know there was a glut of spy flicks in the late '60s and some of them were downright Bad with a capital 'B'.  This one isn't.  Most enjoyable for my 2¢ worth.  I'd recommend it to anyone who's not seen it. 

Thanks!  I haven't seen Hoffman.  Will check that one out.  It will be interesting to see Peter in this role.  I did like The Deadly Affair starring James Mason.  You're right that some of the spy films of the late 60's weren't so hot, but this one is pretty good. 

 

Of course James is great in every character he portrayed, often making a film a success.  Lady Possessed, Candlelight in Algeria, Caught and Hatter's Castle are films that are enhanced by Mason's performance,  Not to be missed are Pandora and the FLying Dutchman, Fanny by Gaslight, The Man in Grey, The Man Between, Wicked Lady, etc.  James was good as a bad guy - smile,  a dashing highwayman, a reformed racketeer, you name it!  I could go on and on.  This guy is superb!

 

I caught a really good lilttle-known British film gem with Richard Todd recently.  It's a really good film noir.  Darn!  MY mind is so tied up with Mason, the title eludes me.   Also, a semi- film noir set in a ballet environment with Griff Jones called Star of My Night.  I really love the touching Ballet music. 

 

Just had a memory boost - the title of the great film with Richard Todd and Stephen Murray is For Them That Trespass.   AS you can see, I really love British film noir!

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Ah, now this reminds me of a little story I once watched Robert Goulet tell on some talk show years ago(sure wish I could remember which one exactly), and as I recall right after Richard Burton had died in 1984.

 

(...the following story is rated PG-13)

 

As I recall, the host of the talk show had asked Goulet about his friendship with Burton which had been formed during the time they were both cast in the original Broadway production of CAMELOT during the early-1960s.

 

Goulet in his efforts to show why Burton was one of the more notorious "ladies men" of his era, would tell the tale of one particular incident that Burton himself would relay to Goulet during their mutual time in the aforementioned Broadway production, and one which while never actually naming the names of the people involved other than Burton, Goulet would do vocal impressions of while relaying this story.

 

It seems Burton had been strongly suspected of carrying on a little affair with the wife of a very prominent fellow British actor who had also made it big in Hollywood, and who with his wife owned a mansion in Beverly Hills. On evening and during a party at said mansion, one to which Burton had been invited and had showed up, the host of this party asked Burton into his private study to discuss a little matter that  had been weighing heavily on his mind, and while discussing this little matter, the host would pull down from a display case a small caliber revolver and begin to clean it. 

 

The host then said something to the effect of, "You know Richard, I've recently been asked to play a part in a film in which the character I play is a rather jealous husband. In this film there's a scene where I confront the man I suspect of carrying on an affair with my character's wife, and in that scene my character must make a decision if he thinks just offering a mild warning to the other man would do the trick in ending that man's involvement with my character's wife, or if perhaps more stringent methods might be called for. What do you make of this?"

 

Goulet, in a pretty good impression of the man said Burton's reply was, "I would think the warning would suffice."

 

(...and yes, as I'm sure you've probably guessed by now, the vocal impression Goulet did of the host of the party in Burton's story sounded a heck of a lot like the very subject of this thread) ;)

It's possible that this happened, but I'm skeptical for two reasons: first, it seems out of character for Mason and second, at this point in the Mason marriage, James had withdrawn from Pamela and did not react to her sexual escapades (this is according to his sister-in-law).  No doubt Pamela did sleep with Burton as there were few men in either Britain or Hollywood whom she didn't collect for her trophy belt.  Again, according to De Rosso, Mason's refusal to react enraged his then wife, who had a compulsive need to be always the center of attention.  At any rate, she was a surprisingly destructive force, destroying her daughter (dead at 55 from alcoholism) and nearly destroying Mason emotionally.  She did, as is well known, ruin him financially.  Yet, after the divorce, she trash talked him on talk shows at every turn, playing the abandoned wife who, as a "survivor", was left to raise two fatherless children.  She neglected to mention the $1,500,000 settlement, plus monthly alimony for her and the two children until their 21st birthdays, plus all of their investments and properties, and a multimillion dollar house. She continued to live off of James' earning for many years, while he scrounged any role to meet his crushing financial burdens.  A famous quote from him at the time was that he longed to return to live in England, but while he could afford to support Pamela or the Queen, he couldn't afford both. James walked out of that house with nothing except literally the clothes on his back.  Pamela, IMO, was a diagnosable clinical type usually associated with male predators - a sex addict, who (in her own words) "despised men" and used them for her personal gratification. The amazing thing to me is that Mason stayed married to this monster for twenty-three years, although many of those years were a "sham" marriage.  He always refused to talk about his marriage and never, not once, bad mouthed her in public.  His stated reason for staying was that he feared the effects on the children of being raised only by their mother and more immediately, the damage a scandal would do to them if Pamela carried through on her threats.  He knew her well.

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It's possible that this happened, but I'm skeptical for two reasons: first, it seems out of character for Mason and second, at this point in the Mason marriage, James had withdrawn from Pamela and did not react to her sexual escapades (this is according to his sister-in-law).  No doubt Pamela did sleep with Burton as there were few men in either Britain or Hollywood whom she didn't collect for her trophy belt.  Again, according to De Rosso, Mason's refusal to react enraged his then wife, who had a compulsive need to be always the center of attention.  At any rate, she was a surprisingly destructive force, destroying her daughter (dead at 55 from alcoholism) and nearly destroying Mason emotionally.  She did, as is well known, ruin him financially.  Yet, after the divorce, she trash talked him on talk shows at every turn, playing the abandoned wife who, as a "survivor", was left to raise two fatherless children.  She neglected to mention the $1,500,000 settlement, plus monthly alimony for her and the two children until their 21st birthdays, plus all of their investments and properties, and a multimillion dollar house. She continued to live off of James' earning for many years, while he scrounged any role to meet his crushing financial burdens.  A famous quote from him at the time was that he longed to return to live in England, but while he could afford to support Pamela or the Queen, he couldn't afford both. James walked out of that house with nothing except literally the clothes on his back.  Pamela, IMO, was a diagnosable clinical type usually associated with male predators - a sex addict, who (in her own words) "despised men" and used them for her personal gratification. The amazing thing to me is that Mason stayed married to this monster for twenty-three years, although many of those years were a "sham" marriage.  He always refused to talk about his marriage and never, not once, bad mouthed her in public.  His stated reason for staying was that he feared the effects on the children of being raised only by their mother and more immediately, the damage a scandal would do to them if Pamela carried through on her threats.  He knew her well.

Exactly what I had read!  James had already withdrawn from Pamela for quite some time, but did stick around to protect the children.  He did not want to leave them to her devices!  Yes, as his sister in law recounted, she had had many trophies on her belt prior to their divorce.  I inferred from reading this and numerous articles that James sought other women for survival.  Too bad that she was not really exposed in the courtroom.,  To protect his children James paid a very high price both financially and emotionally.  She was a destructive force and poor Portland died of alcoholism at the age of 55.

After the divorce Pamela appeared on different talk shows and was heard to bash James as an adulterer.  SHe did have a selective memory it seemed and did not menion as you were saying, the large settlements granted her and the children.  James walked out essentially broke. 

An interesting thing to share is that a newspaper clipping following the divorce had the reporter visiting Pamela in her 19 room mansion with the childen and their beloved cats.  (Frankly, the only good thing I have read about her was her mutual love for cats along with James).  She discussed her recipe for handling stress.  She disliked men but would take a new lover whenever a problem arrived!  So it would seem that this evil woman was a sex addict, as you were saying.  Sadly, it was to the cost of her husband James and the children.  In an interview on TV, James was asked (after the divorce) if he minded his wife's many affairs.  He responded:  "After the first it did not matter".  Another profound fact illustrating the Mason's true state of affairs during their marriage.

 

In another interview, when asked about his mother, Morgan stated that she was a really major adulteress.  To a query about his dad's fidelity to his mom, he did not know.  So that is very interesting too.  If you put he whole mess together, it was a very destructive environment run by his mother, a major sociopath.  Hence, James's tragic expression his friends spotted and also his desperate need to protect his children.  In De Rosso's biography of James Mason we see that the children were seldom around when James would visit, though he called in advance.  THey were systematically turned off on their dad by a woman who had no  real love for anyone (except herself). 

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Here is another Mason/Burton story I thought you might enjoy.  When Burton first came to Hollywood, he stayed in the Mason's  guesthouse.  There was a continual parade of young ladies to the guesthouse.  Finally, Mason commented on this to Burton by remarking that it all seemed so banal and asking him if sleeping with every attractive woman he met was all there was to life?  Burton replied, "Yes James, that's all there is."

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Here is another Mason/Burton story I thought you might enjoy.  When Burton first came to Hollywood, he stayed in the Mason's  guesthouse.  There was a continual parade of young ladies to the guesthouse.  Finally, Mason commented on this to Burton by remarking that it all seemed so banal and asking him if sleeping with every attractive woman he met was all there was to life?  Burton replied, "Yes James, that's all there is."

He forgot about getting smashed.

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It's possible that this happened, but I'm skeptical for two reasons: first, it seems out of character for Mason and second, at this point in the Mason marriage, James had withdrawn from Pamela and did not react to her sexual escapades (this is according to his sister-in-law).  No doubt Pamela did sleep with Burton as there were few men in either Britain or Hollywood whom she didn't collect for her trophy belt.  Again, according to De Rosso, Mason's refusal to react enraged his then wife, who had a compulsive need to be always the center of attention.  At any rate, she was a surprisingly destructive force, destroying her daughter (dead at 55 from alcoholism) and nearly destroying Mason emotionally.  She did, as is well known, ruin him financially.  Yet, after the divorce, she trash talked him on talk shows at every turn, playing the abandoned wife who, as a "survivor", was left to raise two fatherless children.  She neglected to mention the $1,500,000 settlement, plus monthly alimony for her and the two children until their 21st birthdays, plus all of their investments and properties, and a multimillion dollar house. She continued to live off of James' earning for many years, while he scrounged any role to meet his crushing financial burdens.  A famous quote from him at the time was that he longed to return to live in England, but while he could afford to support Pamela or the Queen, he couldn't afford both. James walked out of that house with nothing except literally the clothes on his back.  Pamela, IMO, was a diagnosable clinical type usually associated with male predators - a sex addict, who (in her own words) "despised men" and used them for her personal gratification. The amazing thing to me is that Mason stayed married to this monster for twenty-three years, although many of those years were a "sham" marriage.  He always refused to talk about his marriage and never, not once, bad mouthed her in public.  His stated reason for staying was that he feared the effects on the children of being raised only by their mother and more immediately, the damage a scandal would do to them if Pamela carried through on her threats.  He knew her well.

I also thought that this didn't sound like Mason, but vaguely reminded me of reading something similar, but with Burton and Stewart Granger, who suspected him of sleeping with his wife Jean Simmons (possibly during the filming of THE ROBE in 1953).

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I also thought that this didn't sound like Mason, but vaguely reminded me of reading something similar, but with Burton and Stewart Granger, who suspected him of sleeping with his wife Jean Simmons (possibly during the filming of THE ROBE in 1953).

 

Hmmmmm....ya know Arturo, now that I think about this again, and especially considering the story involved the whole gun cleaning/intimidation thing, AND considering the thought that "macho man" Granger would have been more likely to have had a gun collection than would have Mason, I must now admit my memory of this story MIGHT have been a bit foggy and perhaps you MIGHT be correct about this.

 

(...but gee, didn't I tell the story SO well down there and no matter WHO it involved?) ;)

 

LOL

 

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BIGGER THAN LIFE will be on.twice tomorrow morning on FMC: 8/28 @ 4 am est and 1:20 pm.est.

 

And FMC will show FIVE FINGERS on Saturday, 8/29 @ 9:30 am est, and Sunday, 8/30 @ 6 am.

 

Both are great films, among Mason's best Hollywood films, imho.

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And FMC will show FIVE FINGERS on Saturday, 8/29 @ 9:30 am est, and Sunday, 8/30 @ 6 am.

 

Both are great films, among Mason's best Hollywood films, imho.

Glad to know when a great JM film is being aired!  Thank you for info.!

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Hmmmmm....ya know Arturo, now that I think about this again, and especially considering the story involved the whole gun cleaning/intimidation thing, AND considering the thought that "macho man" Granger would have been more likely to have had a gun collection than would have Mason, I must now admit my memory of this story MIGHT have been a bit foggy and perhaps you MIGHT be correct about this.

 

(...but gee, didn't I tell the story SO well down there and no matter WHO it involved?) ;)

 

LOL

 

Yeah, it was quite interesting and food for thought, though it did seem to be another actor - Granger perhaps? but still entertaining.  Though if it had been JM he was really turned off on his wife for her infidelities by the late 50's and early 60's = by all accounts read - but maybe a matter of pride would have driven him to an act like that.  There is a fictional story from the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents where Herbert Marshall corners the guy who has been going with his wife.   (Robert Horton).  After being fooled into thinking he had a happy marriage, he catches the hapless couple red-handed.  Instead of a gun collection, Herbert traps Robert's character into a small room and pours him a drink.  Thinking it is poisoned he is afraid to drink, but when he sees Herbert drinking from the same bottle he does not worry.  Later he discovers it was a trick and pulls out a gun.,  AN interesting parallel where the victim becomes the winner but of course feels bad and scared when the wife runs in crying "You shot my husbamd!"  Strange plot twist there.  She certainly had a change of heart! 

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Co-workers commented on how Mason could quietly steal scenes from them.  As one individual put it, W.C.Fields should have said, never be in a movie with dogs, kids, or James Mason in it.

Our JAmes was quite a scene stealer!  In re-watching THe Seventh Veil a few nights ago, my attention was riveted on James, though I had seen the film numerous times.  Of course at the denoument as we get barely a glance at Nicholas (James) from a distance, we are enthralled by Ann Todd (as Francesca his former ward) rushing from upstairs to the man she really loves (JM) who retreats to the library at that moment;  as he thinks he does not have a chance.  Her other 2 suitors realize whom she really loved. Her analyst stands nearby content with the inner knowledge that he has saved this girl from making a wrong coice!  Herbert Lom was excellent in his role.

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Yeah, it was quite interesting and food for thought, though it did seem to be another actor - Granger perhaps? but still entertaining.  Though if it had been JM he was really turned off on his wife for her infidelities by the late 50's and early 60's = by all accounts read - but maybe a matter of pride would have driven him to an act like that.  There is a fictional story from the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents where Herbert Marshall corners the guy who has been going with his wife.   (Robert Horton).  After being fooled into thinking he had a happy marriage, he catches the hapless couple red-handed.  Instead of a gun collection, Herbert traps Robert's character into a small room and pours him a drink.  Thinking it is poisoned he is afraid to drink, but when he sees Herbert drinking from the same bottle he does not worry.  Later he discovers it was a trick and pulls out a gun.,  AN interesting parallel where the victim becomes the winner but of course feels bad and scared when the wife runs in crying "You shot my husbamd!"  Strange plot twist there.  She certainly had a change of heart! 

 

WAIT now, MCannady! You say "Herbert Marshall" played a cuckold husband in somethin'???

 

Why...I simply can't BELIEVE that!!!

 

;)

 

(...Poor guy...I wonder why he always seemed to get that kind of role so often?)

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Here is some very good news indeed.  Network is releasing a restored print of THE NIGHT HAS EYES, aka, TERROR HOUSE.   If you're a Mason fan, it is an absolute must-see.  Made in 1942, it stars a 33 yr. old Mason, Joyce Howard, Mary Clare, and Wilfred Lawson.  Mason is honing his brooding, Byronic, sexual sadism thing in this movie, and he's already quite good at it.  To my knowledge, all of the currently available prints are beyond terrible - I should know, I bought three different ones from three different vendors, all bad.  Let us rejoice.

 

Could a restored print of ALIBI  be next?

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Here is some very good news indeed.  Network is releasing a restored print of THE NIGHT HAS EYES, aka, TERROR HOUSE.   If you're a Mason fan, it is an absolute must-see.  Made in 1942, it stars a 33 yr. old Mason, Joyce Howard, Mary Clare, and Wilfred Lawson.  Mason is honing his brooding, Byronic, sexual sadism thing in this movie, and he's already quite good at it.  To my knowledge, all of the currently available prints are beyond terrible - I should know, I bought three different ones from three different vendors, all bad.  Let us rejoice.

 

Could a restored print of ALIBI  be next?

That's great news!  I hope they will do Alibi next.  My print is dark and another I just ordered is all washed out.

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