Post by futuretrunks on May 11, 2020 21:30:05 GMT
TCM BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE: JAMES MASON (Friday, May 15 at 6am ET) On May 15, TCM is showing a program of six films to celebrate the birthday of James Mason, one of the most fascinating actors to ever step in front of a movie camera. The selection is rich, which is no surprise because Mason was extremely discerning in his choice of films and there's very little "filler" in his filmography. Like his fellow Yorkshireman Charles Laughton, Mason seemed to have an artistic temperament that was closer to that of a director than an actor. Both were very skilled actors, of course, and they were professionals who gave all of themselves to the pictures in which they appeared. But Mason and Laughton deepened and enlarged our sense of their characters, suggesting mysteries and intrigues that grew from their characters but went far beyond the action. That's why they made a deep impression no matter the size of the role they were playing, whether it was a starring role or a character part. Unlike Laughton, Mason had a lengthy stretch as a romantic leading man, albeit an extremely unconventional one. Mason brought a tinge of fatalism to every one of his performances. He seemed to carry it in his brow, and he conveyed it with his eyes and, of course, his voice, one of the great treasures of British and American cinema. Mason could make beautifully dark music out of absolutely anything, no matter the circumstances (that includes a series of television commercials for Thunderbird wine), from his first appearances in the 1930s to the final films released a year after his death in 1985. And it certainly enhances each of the six films in this tribute. Hotel Reserve is a striking Eric Ambler thriller set in pre-war southern France, in which Mason plays a man wrongfully accused of espionage. Carol Reed's Odd Man Out, from the F.L. Green novel, is a classic, and it is unimaginable without Mason's presence as a wounded IRA leader looking for shelter on the last night of his life. Mason's performance as Brutus in Julius Caesar is one of many high points in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's daring picture, one of the finest adaptations of Shakespeare to the cinema. George Cukor's 1954 musical remake of A Star is Born is certainly Judy Garland's film, but Mason gives it dimensions of tragic grandeur, and watching him and Garland working together is exhilarating in and of itself. In Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, Mason plays a supporting role but every single second of his time on screen counts, and his Vandamm is as formidable and vivid a presence as Cary Grant's Roger Thornhill. As for Lolita, Stanley Kubrick's controversial adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's novel is just as unimaginable without Mason as Odd Man Out. James Mason was a great actor, but he was also a great star: the chemical reaction between the camera and his presence is one of the most precious essences in movie history.