Favourite dead not-American actors: an Advent Calendar
Day 1: James Mason
Oh, James James James. You could split James into his three glorious features - his voice, his face and his talent - and get three decent careers out of it. But no, he has to hog them all. I am not complaining.
On my seemingly unending quest to watch all the James Mason films ever (hey, everyone needs a hobby) I am yet to find a dud film. And there’s a LOT of films. He’s an actor of integrity; intelligent, dedicated, serious; he made decent choices, and he never gives even a half-arsed performance. He also never trades on his voice or looks, they’re just a bonus. Dear god what a bonus. But alongside these heavyweight qualities there is a lightness of touch, an underplaying, and - all too rarely - a humorous side, so that he can easily play against Cary Grant, or make you clap gleefully at a squashed pea. (The pea scene. OH LORD the pea scene.)
Favourite Role: Johnny McQueen in Odd Man Out (1947). A performance so good that you don’t notice the acting, in a beautifully shot, directed and acted film, and - hey I never said I was deep - he is so ridiculously handsome in it, even more so than usual.
Another good place to start: A Star Is Born (1954) because despite it being utterly heartbreaking it’s fantastic and you also get Judy Garland singing ‘The Man That Got Away’. On a lighter note, They Met In The Dark (1943) is a little gem, like Ealing-meets-Graham Greene. And James is super-handsome again.