James Mason Poster

Quotes (29)

  • [From Bill Fairchild] In a noisy world, he spoke quietly and, yet, his voice will be remembered by millions who never knew him.
  • How do I wish to be remembered, if at all? I think perhaps just as a fairly desirable sort of character actor.
  • I'm a character actor: the public never knows what it's getting by way of a Mason performance from one film to the next. I therefore represent a thoroughly insecure investment.
  • [on not showing up at the 27th Academy Awards, even though he had been nominated as Best Actor for A Star Is Born (1954) and had agreed to go] The Oscar show is always a little better when things go wrong, so I had no need to feel guilty about letting them down.
  • [1970 comment on Jean Renoir] He's my style. Renoir's good for actors. Renoir obviously loves actors and understands actors, and La grande illusion (1937), which I saw recently, is so modern that it could have been made this year - the acting and the staging of it are absolutely modern and true.
  • [on Sir Carol Reed] He was always a director who got as much out of actors as could possibly be gotten. And he could stage individual scenes as well as they could possibly be staged. If he had a weakness, which I admit he has, it was that he didn't have a sufficiently keen story sense.
  • I purposely would not go and see the old version of Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941). They told me my part was played by Claude Rains, for whom I have an infinite admiration, and I knew I would never be as good as him.
  • [on Joseph L. Mankiewicz] A Letter to Three Wives (1949) and All About Eve (1950) were marvelous films. I thought that the last good film he made was 5 Fingers (1952), because personally I have not seen a Mankiewicz film that appeared to be well-directed since then. For instance, Cleopatra (1963) was a hideous film but nevertheless you could see that it had some good, well-written scenes and the director had not served the writer well.
  • Having been fascinated by the Alan Ladd phenomenon, I now had the opportunity to study it at close quarters. It turned out that he had the exquisite coordination and rhythm of an athlete, which made it a pleasure to watch him when he was being at all physical.
  • [on Alfred Hitchcock] You can see from the way he uses actors that he sees them as animated props. He casts his films very, very carefully and he knows perfectly well in advance that all the actors that he chooses are perfectly capable of playing the parts he gives them, without any special directorial effort on his part. He gets some sort of a charge out of directing the leading ladies, I think, but that's something else.
  • [on Judy Garland] In some of her films she showed talent which was very comic and touching. Touching because she played with a bright smile and a great spirit, while the situation was rather dramatic, even tragic perhaps. She had in fact a quality which can only be compared to Charles Chaplin's heartbreaking quality: always optimistic, always gay, always inventive, against poverty, against desperate situations - and that's when Judy is at her best.
  • [on Bette Davis] The greatest actress of all time.
  • [on Max Ophüls] I think I know the reason why producers tend to make him cry. Inevitably, they demand some stationary set-ups, and a shot that does not call for tracks is agony for dear poor Max, who, separated from his dolly, is wrapped in deepest melancholy. Once, when they took away his crane, I thought he'd never smile again...
  • I loved Max Ophüls because he had a very unsuccessful career as far as America was concerned, but he had an irrepressible spirit. He was a brave, resilient man and a great man of theatre and he loved his work, he had an undying enthusiasm. He was a lovely man.
  • [on Raquel Welch] I have never met someone so badly behaved.
  • Walter Wanger was a man who always wanted to be European. He didn't know how to be European but he wanted to be European, so The Reckless Moment (1949) was rather the kind of film - I suppose, like Brief Encounter (1945) - that he was trying to make, but it wasn't very good.
  • [on Rudolph Valentino] That Valentino was certainly a very splendid fellow. And his unique glamor was not entirely due to the fact that he was unhampered by banal dialogue. Modern dialogue is not always banal, and the screen hero who could match Valentino's posturing technique with an equally polished vocal technique has a perfectly fair chance of becoming his romantic peer. It was his magnetism and dignity that assured him a peak of magnificent isolation.
  • [on Louella Parsons] Not a bad old slob.
  • The trouble with Hollywood is that the producers and agents are the aristocrats... which made actors who make their living in Hollywood usually feel they are some sort of scum. They looked for other means of showing off and were great on rallies for political candidates.
  • [from his eulogy for Judy Garland] I traveled in her orbit only for a little while but it was an exciting while, and one during which it seemed that the joys in her life outbalanced the miseries. The little girl whom I knew, who had a little curl in the middle of her forehead, when she was good she was not only very, very good, she was the most sympathetic, the funniest, the sharpest and the most stimulating woman I ever knew. She was a lady who gave so much and richly, both to her vast audience who she entertained and to the friends around her whom she loved, that there was no currency in which to repay her. And she needed to be repaid, she needed devotion and love beyond the resources of any of us.
  • To be a successful film star, as opposed to a successful film actor, you should settle for an image and polish it forever. I somehow could never quite bring myself to do that.
  • Though it is hard for anyone familiar with the current television scene to imagine, the early days of television in the United States were really exciting.
  • [on his only meeting with Ronald Reagan] I only met Reagan once, at a time when I was just fading from Hollywood. I bumped into him at a jewelry store and took the liberty of introducing myself - under the guise of congratulating him on becoming Governor of California. He was very charming.
  • It has always seemed to me the height of audacity to write an autobiography unless, of course the author has made a contribution to history.
  • [on his independent production of "Charade"] I had hoped that this curiosity would be lost without trace.
  • [on Candlelight in Algeria (1944) in 1974] This film topped the popularity polls in Bulgaria one or more of the immediately post-war years. I, who saw the film, find this interesting.
  • [on The Seventh Veil (1945) in 1974] This was Sydney Box's and Ann Todd's film. But director Compton Bennett and I also profited from its success. 'Welcome' mats were spread out for us in Hollywood.
  • [on The Man in Grey (1943) in 1974] The great theatre critic James Agate, who was then writing in films, sensibly headed his review "Bosh and Tosh."
  • [on The Man Between (1953)] This film became very big on television in the U.S. In the cinema one demands of a thriller that the narrative thread be ever taut. The American televiewer makes no such demands since continuity is destined to be shattered by commercial interruption. Thus it often happens that what has been hitherto regarded as a failure in the cinemas will be a hit on the Late Late Show and vice versa.