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James Mason: A Personal Biography Hardcover – 13 Apr 1989
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I must say that Diana presented Mason in a whole new light - he preferred Pamela to take care of the unpleasant negotiating and family finances, but he did have a sharp tongue when it came to directors, he was a hard worker, and stubbornly remained a conscientious objector even though it caused big problems with his family, so he obviously wasn't sheepish. He was definitely difficult to understand.
Miss De Rosso was the half sister of James' first wife Pamela and as such had an insight into the man denied to others, she maintained a close friendship with him throughout the rest of his life and is able to paint a very vivid portrayal of the man,
James Mason, never had a simple run at life and he was a man often at odds with himself and his career, though the public perception of him was an often cold, clinically detached loner, he was a very warm and social individual, sadly it was a side that few, certainly in the Hollywood circles would ever see or be able to fathom,
This book gives us that insight and we become privy to his hopes and fears through the many conversations that he had with Diana, his fraustrations with first the British film industry and later the Hollywood machine, which led him to make the first of several "uprootings" his sadness over a marriage that he simply couldn't maintain, a fallow period when everything was a pale shade of what he had already accomplished before a middle age resurgance which again had him attaining a happiness in both his private and public personas,
Many wonderful stories are recounted here, Mason himself admitted that his own bio (Before I Forget) though concise was a little "dry" certainly not an accusation which can be left at Miss De Rosso's door, perhaps it's the part Italian blood she carries but this is a heartfelt biography of a man who in addition to being the velvet voiced star of stage and screen was also the man she could call brother, a well recommended read and as I mentioned at the outset 'a tough act to follow' good luck to anyone willing to lift the baton.
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Even though the author is Pamela's half-sister, she is very fair and even leans towards James' point of view as the marriage began to crumble, and it is obvious that she and James got along well and she was very fond of him. The stories from the early days in England to the Hollywood tread mill of the 1950's are all here, as well as stories from James' life and career after he left California in the early 1960's to begin a new chapter in his life. The author writes very complimentary comments about James' second wife, Clarissa, and how his happiness with her in the last decade of his life seemed to fill a space in his heart that he had never been able to access before he met her. This is a lovely book, and if you are a fan of James Mason, it is a must-have for your collection. It has wonderful insight into this charismatic but enigmatic man from someone who truly knew him well and spent a lot of time with James and Pamela while they were married. You'll love this personal, affectionate look at a man who was far more insecure than his screen presence might suggest and who was far more talented than he ever gave himself credit for. This is a wonderful glimpse into the man who was James Mason. I loved it!
about James Mason excites me, his movies, books, anything! Reading this book was fantastic. I
had to make myself read it slowly, rather than devouring it in one day. It was very informative.
It was well written, has some great pictures I had never seen before. It was very interesting to
read how other actors and actresses thought about him. Sounds like he was everything I expected and more.
The highlights of the book are the chapters on first wife Pamela. Though Pamela Mason was a loud-mouthed and shrewish adulteress, she was also extremely witty and interesting in her own right. Anyone who recalls her appearences on L.A. TV shows from the 60's and 70's will still chuckle at her endless tirades, usually ending with the predictable sentence, "James was so dull."
This book actually provides convincing evidence that James *was* rather boring. Mason comes off as depressed, rigid, indecisive and inordinately unhappy. at least until he meets Clarissa, his second wife. He makes many poor choices and instead of getting over them and getting on with his life, he broods about the negative consequences of his actions. For example, he moves to Hollywood and instantly detests California and American life, yet he inexplicably continues to live in the States for another 15 years.
It is never explained why James stayed with Pamela for so many years, even when he was miserable in her presence and unhappy living in America. When he finally does divorce her, he ends up shilling out millions in alimony and making a succession of wretched movies in order to pay off Pamela.
Ultimately, the real tragedy is that a man as intelligent, urbane and handsome as James Mason (not to mention his stupendous voice!) handled his career in such a haphazard way. He was a marvelous screen actor, but wasted his talent in many potboilers. This book doesn't really explain these poor choices and doesn't reveal enough about Mason's inner life, probably because he was so unknowable. The chapters on his waning years and death were excellent, however. Because I love James Mason, I'll give this five stars, my bias showing outrageously.