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James Mason was born in Yorkshire, England in 1909. He intended to become an architect, but while studying at Cambridge he did some theater, and after graduation he joined the Old Vic theatre. He performed on the stage, and was in many minor English movies in 1936 to 1939 (there was a law requiring a percentage of movies shown in English to be made there, so many "quota quickies" were filmed). He was a conscientious objector in WWII. During the early 1940s, he continued to make many movies, and the quality of his parts steadily increased. It was his performance in The Seventh Veil, as a handicapped musician involved in a bizarre romantic love triangle that made him a major star, and in 1947 he starred in Carol Reed's Odd Man Out, as an IRA member on the run from the law, and that made him an international star. He went to Hollywood, where he co-starred in Caught, as a doctor in another bizarre romantic love triangle. Despite his being 40, he was able to continue to play romantic leads, both because he had aged well and because of his beautiful speaking voice, and he starred in movies like Pandora and the Flying Dutchman and A Star Is Born (nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for this film), but he also took memorable supporting roles, including as Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In the late 1950s, it appeared his career might be winding down, and he began doing TV as well as supporting roles in movies. But in 1959 he was a most memorable villain in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, and that same year he starred as Professor Lindenbrook in Journey to the Center of the Earth! In 1962 he had one of the very best roles of his career, starring as Humbert Humbert in Stanley Kubrick's Lolita. He also was memorable in 1966 as the aging lothario pursuing "plain" young Lynn Redgrave in Georgy Girl (nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for this film). He continued acting through the 1970s and mid 1980s, playing Mr. Jordan in Heaven Can Wait and Dr. Watson in Murder by Decree. He was a delightful slimy lawyer in The Verdict (nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for this film) in 1982. He passed away from a heart attack in 1984 at the age of 75. James Mason was a superlative character actor who played many quirky leading roles over his long illustrious career. He took almost every role that was offered to him (he appeared in 150 movies!), and while they were not all "winners", I highly recommend all of the movies mentioned above!
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