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Though trained in architecture at Cambridge University, James
Mason believed he could make more money acting, and after he became one
of Britain's most famous leading men, he moved to Hollywood where his distinctive
voice and frequent portrayals of men with a dark side brought him three
Oscar nominations and immortal star status.
A poster from FIRE OVER ENGLAND (1937), an adventure film about the
conflicts between Queen Elizabeth I of England and Philip II of Spain featuring
Laurence Olivier as one of the Queen's
bounty hunters and Vivien Leigh
as her lady-in-waiting. Mason had a small, unbilled role in this movie
as Hillary Vane.
Mason as Irish rebel leader Johnny McQueen who masterminds
the payroll robbery of a mill in Carol Reed's suspense thriller ODD MAN OUT
(1947), the film that established him as one of Britain's biggest stars.
Mason played the title role in this Hollywood biopic about Field Marshal
Rommel and his defeats in North Africa during World War II, THE DESERT
FOX (1951), also featuring Jessica Tandy. Incidentally, this was not the
only time Mason played Rommel. The second time was two years later in Robert
Wise's THE DESERT RATS (1953), featuring fellow British star Richard
Burton as Rommel's English enemy commander.
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