- The 11 Best James Mason Movies
James Mason was a renowned actor who left an indelible mark on the film industry. His memorable performances in movies that span the entirety of his long career have earned him a beloved place in popular culture. Here we’ve compiled a list of Mason’s most popular films, those which have stood the test of time and are still celebrated today.
This list is based on ratings from film sites such as IMDB and Letterboxd, but it does not attempt to measure quality; rather, it accumulates the films that the public has found to be most successful. While we’ve included some excellent films from every decade that Mason worked in, note that many of his great works from the 1940s have sadly been excluded from this list. To get a full picture of Mason’s phenomenal body of work, those forgotten gems should also be explored.
We hope you find something intriguing in this selection that will inspire you to watch more of Mason’s amazing movies! If you’ve seen any of these gems or watched other ones starring Mason, please share with us your favorite performance in the comments below!
The 11 Best James Mason Movies
North by Northwest (1959)
- Genre: Adventure, Mystery, Thriller
- Starring: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Leo G. Carroll, Martin Landau
- Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
One of the best Alfred Hitchcock movies ever made — and one of the best movies ever made period — North by Northwest stars Cary Grant as the lead, with James Mason as a supporting star. It’s a wonderful thriller that never gets old, and today it is the most popular James Mason movie by far. North by Northwest follows an ad executive (Grant) who is mistaken for a spy and goes on a cross-country journey as he attempts to flee from the spy Vandamn (Mason) and all his associates.
- Genre: Drama / Romance / Crime
- Starring: James Mason, Shelley Winters, Sue Lyon
- Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
A controversial story, a controversial film, but also one of the most popular James Mason movies today. From 1962, Lolita is the first screen adaption of the previously banned book by Vladimir Nabokov (who actually wrote the screenplay himself!). The film follows a middle-aged European professor (Mason) who moves to an American suburb and subsequently becomes obsessed with a young adolescent girl.
The Verdict (1982)
- Genre: Drama
- Starring: Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, James Mason
- Directed by: Sidney Lumet
A later movie in James Mason’s career, The Verdict is a wonderful movie starring Paul Newman and Mason (both of whom give phenomenal performances). The film follows an alcoholic lawyer (Newman) who attempts to redeem himself and his reputation by taking a high-stakes case against a powerful attorney. James Mason was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his great performance!
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
- Genre: Drama, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
- Starring: Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Paul Lukas, Peter Lorre
- Directed by: Richard Fleischer
A wonderful sci-fi film from 1954, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea tells the story of a sea captain who uses a technologically advanced submarine to attempt to force peace on the world. With an all-star cast and a great story, this movie is still one of the most popular James Mason movies today.
The Boys from Brazil (1978)
- Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
- Starring: Gregory Peck, Laurence Olivier, James Mason, Lilli Palmer
- Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner
The Boys from Brazil is an absolutely wild movie — but aren’t those the best kinds? The movie stars a bunch of Old Hollywood stars, which is always fun. In the film, Gregory Peck plays a mad scientist who is attempting to clone Hitler 95 times and raise the boys up just as Hitler was brought up — and then form the Fourth Reich. Laurence Olivier is a Nazi hunter who is attempting to hunt the scientist down and put a stop to this plan. Mason plays the mad scientist’s principal contact.
Cross of Iron (1977)
- Genre: James Coburn, Maximillian Schell, James Mason, David Warner
- Directed by: Sam Peckinpah
Another very interesting film made later in James Mason’s career. Cross of Iron tells the story of class conflict between two ranking members of Germany’s military in World War II. The men quickly start a rivalry over jealousy over one’s Iron Cross, the military’s highest honor. Mason again is a supporting role here, but this is still one of the most popular James Mason movies today!
Heaven Can Wait (1978)
- Genre: Fantasy / Comedy / Romance
- Starring: Warren Beatty, James Mason, Julie Christie, Jack Warden, Dyan Cannon
- Directed by: Warren Beatty and Buck Henry
Considered a 70s classic, Heaven Can Wait is a fun fantasy comedy. The film follows a Los Angeles Rams quarterback who is killed in a car accident. However, he soon learns that his guardian angel accidentally took him from his body too early. To make up for this, he is put back on Earth in a crooked industrialist’s body. It’s a lot of chaos — and a lot of fun!
A Star Is Born (1954)
- Genre: Drama / Musical / Romance
- Starring: Judy Garland, James Mason, Jack Carson
- Directed by: George Cukor
One of the most iconic movies of all time, A Star Is Born has been redone many times, though 1954’s version may be its best (depending on your own opinion, of course). Starring Judy Garland and James Mason, the film follows an alcoholic actor with dwindling fame marrying a newcomer he helps bring to the top. It’s heartbreaking and sad — and James Mason at his best!
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)
- Genre: Fantasy / Adventure / Sci-Fi
- Starring: James Mason, Pat Boone, Arlene Dahl
- Directed by: Henry Levin
Journey to the Center of the Earth is another very interesting sci-fi film James Mason did in the 1950s. A classic book and a classic movie, this film tells the story of a geologist/ professor (Mason) who travels with his colleagues down an extinct Icelandic volcano to reach the center of the earth. A lot of drama and adventure ensues throughout the film, making it a classic. Plus, it’s one of the most popular James Mason movies today!
Evil Under the Sun (1982)
- Genre: Drama / Mystery / Crime
- Starring: Peter Ustinov, James Mason, Maggie Smith, Jane Birkin
- Directed by: Guy Hamilton
Based on the novel of the same name by Agatha Christie, Evil Under the Sun is a Hercule Poirot film that is so very fun. The film tells the story of a stage star who dies on her honeymoon on an exclusive island in the Adriatic. Hercule Poirot takes on the case and finds himself trying to solve her murder while surrounded by the very, very rich — and nobody else, really, on this island. It’s fun!
Julius Caesar (1953)
- Genre: Drama / History
- Starring: Louis Calhern, Marlon Brando, James Mason, Greer Garson, Deborah Kerr
- Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
An epic with an all-star cast, Julius Caesar is inspired by real-life events that occurred towards the end of the ruler of Rome’s life. This film follows Shakespeare’s take on the story of what happened when Julius Caesar was assassinated — and everything that went down after. James Mason plays Brutus, Caesar’s close friend who is convinced by the others that killing Caesar is the only way. It’s a marvelous movie, also starring Marlon Brando as Mark Antony, and is definitely one of the most popular James Mason movies today!