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Lovely mystery
7 July 2007
It's a little quaint by today's standards, but the writing is witty and the cinematography is excellent. More than that, it's an opportunity to see a 36 year old James Mason acting in a role where he ages 25 years. This was the one Gainsborough film he actually wanted to make, although he had hit the top of the charts with other Gainsborough Gothics such as The Wicked Lady and The Man in Grey. I was rather astonished at his ability to transform his extraordinary brooding good looks into those of a kindly, elderly gentleman with a twinkle in his eye. His gait, voice, and body movements so fitted the role of the elderly man, I believe he could have fooled me without all the makeup.
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Child's Play (1972)
Not that bad!
2 July 2007
Chances are you will never have an opportunity to see this film as it hasn't been on TV for ages. However, I wouldn't say it is as bad as some of the comments. I thought it was well acted, but the ending left the viewer confused about exactly what had happened with the boys. The fates of two of the three major characters are also left to the viewer's imagination. Robert Preston and James Mason made interesting foils. Mason managed to make his character a man to be despised and pitied. Preston was also quite capable in his role - all sweetness and light with increasingly malevolent undertones.

If it had been as dull as described in some of the other comments, I probably wouldn't have been able to stay awake since I watched it in the wee hours of the AM.
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Movie with an Identity Crisis
8 September 2006
There are many things to love about A Star is Born. Judy Garland's fabulous singing talent is on full display. The script is witty, clever, truthful, and in some ways very daring in its exposure of the Hollywood experience (particularly the studio experience). However, as much as I am bowled over by Garland's singing, it gets in the way of the story in several places. As the viewer is just beginning to suspend belief and think of Judy as Esther Blodgett or Vicki Lester, she lets us know that she's Judy Garland again through some show stopper of a number. I understand that Judy and her husband produced this movie as a comeback vehicle for her, but had they showed a little more restraint, it would have been a better movie, I think. The other part of the movie deals with two adults who fall in love. Both people are flawed, particularly Norman Maine (James Mason), but the depth and complexity of these two characters (particularly Mason's character) and their screen chemistry is something to behold. Off the screen, Mason and Garland became very close and Mason delivered the eulogy at Garland's funeral. In summary, I wish there had been more balance between Judy the star singer and Vicki/Norman, a couple desperately in love and doomed to fail, because it's the latter than brings the poignancy to the film. Mason did an outstanding job of keeping the "couple" story line compelling to the tragic end. He provided the romantic bitterness that's needed to keep this film on its tragic trajectory - although many of his scenes toward the end of the movie are so raw and emotional, they are hard to watch. I had to keep reminding myself, "it's just a movie".
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Charade (1954)
Better Than Expected
24 July 2006
I bought a video of this Charade months ago and was almost afraid to watch it after reading Sheridan Morley's comments about it in the biography he wrote about James Mason. (If Morley's account of Mason's life is to be believed, he threw opportunity for real Hollywood stardom away with both hands.) I was pleasantly surprised as it was a delightful film, perfect for the small screen. The stories were charmingly portrayed, the acting was fine, but I doubt Pamela would have had much of an acting career without James' coattails to ride on. I actually liked the last story the best. James as Jeeves was particularly funny to me. You could see him switch gears and Viola - there was Diello from Five Fingers.

Having said that, it is clear to me that James and Pamela really had a desire to be creative above any desire for James to be a Hollywood star. One of their early efforts was an independent film James and Pamela wrote, produced (with her ex-husband, Roy Kellino), starred in and distributed. It's called "I Met A Murderer" and despite the hokey title, it's very good.
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Not that Bad...!
18 July 2006
I can not go into a dissertation about the movie vs the novel. I can not write a comparative study of the The Mill on the Floss with other novels by George Eliot or her contemporaries. I do appreciate the other commenter's' reviews. However, I would like to correct a few factual errors. As a child, Tom Tulliver bullies his friend "Bob" (not Phillip) into giving him the shilling. Phillip, son of the elder Tulliver's nemesis, observes this act and chides Tom for his behavior in front of Tom's sister, Maggie. (PS - the wealthy family is not the Tullivers. Phillip and his father are wealthy and Tullivers are the working class.) As an adult, Bob and Tom become friends and business partners as Tom is not a bad person, but he certainly is a pigheaded one. However, Tom can not forgive Phillip and his father for the wrongs the old man brought onto the Tullivers and therein lies the basic conflict in the plot. All in all, I didn't think the movie was all that bad and the pace of the plot as well as the acting held my interest from beginning to end. If you are a James Mason fan, you will probably like it better than some of his other movies from that period.

This was Mason's first "serious" movie, and he was very good in it. And yes indeed it would have been glorious to see him have a turn at Heathcliff at that point in his career. Later, he should have had a crack at Mr. Rochester. Too bad...our loss.
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Fez up - it's a fun film
29 April 2006
You can get this film from Movies Unlimited. However, it is not 85 minutes long as advertised in IMDb and other places. It's about 63 minutes long, but the story seems complete enough. The interplay between the American heroine and her English secret agent boy friend is snappy and sassy. If you have ever wondered why James Mason was once considered the "Cambridge edition of Clark Gable", then look no further than this film. I particularly like the scenes where he is running around with a fez on his head for no apparently good reason. This was one of three films Mason did where he played the "good" guy (before the Brits figured out he'd be much more of a box office hit playing slightly sadistic anti-heroes). The other two are "Hotel Reserve" and "Secret Mission".
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"The Man Between" - Excellent film noir!
8 April 2006
This moody, atmospheric piece holds up extremely well (maybe even better than when it was first released). The two stars, James Mason and Claire Bloom, are fabulous and their chemistry is palpable, especially in the last quarter of the film. As other comments have mentioned, just the moral ambiguity coupled with the physical backdrop of Berlin shortly after the war enhances the story tremendously. Mason delivers another complex performance, by turns charming and sardonic, quickly turning to cynical and dark. Claire Bloom is lovely and her talent comes shining through, particularly in the last half of the film as she and Mason begin to heat up together. The music and the cinematography add immeasurably to creating an 'other worldliness' to this movie. If you find the plot drags a little at the beginning, stick with it because the intensity picks up as the plot unfolds. The suspenseful ending feels like a knife in the heart. Definitely a precursor to the The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.
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What a hoot!
26 March 2006
Wicked Lady is quite the racy little melodrama! For its time, I can imagine it was totally scandalous, but quite tame by today's standards. Margaret Lockwood is delicious as the "bad" Barbara Worth, and James Mason is totally sardonic and witty as her bad boy companion. The times when the two of them are together on screen are by far the most wicked fun (except, of course, when Barbara is contriving some plot to bend everyone around her to her silly will). Honestly, you can see the wheels turning in her head. Her performance and character was the prototype for that queen of all heroines, Scarlet O'Hara. At this time the film was made, English ladies were all atwitter about this genre of Rank Organisations films (of which The Wicked Lady might be the best). I suppose during the war, this type of escapism fantasy must have been just the ticket.
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Something the Lord Made (2004 TV Movie)
Beautifully acted and terrific story
11 June 2004
I didn't know exactly what to expect when I began watching this movie. Alan Rickman has always been a favorite actor of mine, but I have seen him get a little "lazy" from time to time. Well, he really pulled out his acting chops for this one. But Mos Def, whom I had never seen before, really blew me away with his nuanced performance of Vivien Thomas. The two of them together created the type of chemistry on screen one can only imagine must have existed between the men they portrayed. The magic they created is shattered by the reality of segregation, and the movie presents this as fact rather than making moral judgments. (That's left for the viewer to examine and judge internally for his or her self.) The movie's pacing, dialogue, and mixture of medical science, surgical "drama", and harsh reality of the times was excellent. All in all, I was amazed by the film, the acting, the story line -- it's worth watching again.
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