Raymond Massey : Raymond Massey 1896-1983

Raymond Massey 1896-1983

Since we are a nation of immigrants it is altogether fitting and proper that the
most famous portrayal of our greatest President should be given by a Canadian.

And not no ordinary Canadian, Raymond Massey came from a distinguished family,
his brother Canada's Governor-General Vincent Massey.

Born into a prominent Canadian industrial family, Raymond Massey eschewed business and politics for a great career as a player. First in London, then in
Hollywood, Massey's characters whether good or bad were usually singleminded
and shrewd.

He gave life to a lot of real people in history. In Fire Over England, he plays
the dour and serious Philip II of Spain who's life was lived only for the work
of his country. And shrewd, watch the scene where he unmasks Laurence Olivier as an English spy.

He essayed the role of John Brown twice for the screen. Better in Seven Men From Now then in Santa Fe Trail. The real John Brown would never have left a
barn full of runaway slaves to burn as in Santa Fe Trail. Bit Massey's performance was spot-on as to the character of Mr. Brown.

He played General Claire Chenault in God Is My Co-Pilot and to complete the yin
of Lincoln, he played Junius Brutus Booth the father of his assassin in Prince
of Players as the yang.

But he's best known as Abraham Lincoln in Abe Lincoln of Illinois. Both on
stage and on the screen, he's the man most people in America will identify as
Lincoln. Contemporary accounts say Lincoln's voice was not the deep one of
Massey's, it was a highpitched midwestern twang. But you won't think that
watching Massey. He was Oscar nominated in 1940 for that but lost to James
Stewart that year.

Not too many people make a knave out of John Wayne, but Raymond Massey sure did in Cecil B. DeMille's Reap the Wild Wind. In that flawed film, he's the best
thing in it besides the giant squid.

And Massey has a good following for playing Gale Wynant in Ayn Rand's The
Fountainhead among people who follow her philosophy. Destroyed by compromise, how fitting because Massey's film characters rarely compromised.

Because of television, he's probably best known for taking over the role of
Doctor Gillespie from Lionel Barrymore in the television adaption of the Doctor Kildare series. Richard Chamberlain records in his memoirs that Massey was a
generous and considerate man to work with.

Raymond Massey, RIP, a real Prince among Players.

Re: Raymond Massey 1896-1983

I count myself among his "good following" for his role of Wynand in "The Fountainhead". In fact, I find him - to paraphrase his alleged words (Massey's, not Wynand's) about himself - supremely interesting. I cannot, and don't want to, imagine anyone else in that role.

Re: Raymond Massey 1896-1983

I'm not crazy about The Fountainhead, but Raymond Massey was the best thing in
that film.

Bureaucrats need love

Re: Raymond Massey 1896-1983

I'm not crazy about The Fountainhead, but Raymond Massey was the best thing in
that film.

I wasn't crazy either about "The Fountainhead", the dialogue I found was too contrite but I do agree, Raymond Massey was the highlight of the whole film, even though Gary Cooper was meant to be (and as much as I love Cooper, this film was not his strongest imho).

Love Massey's scene's with the lead actress though.

Me and him have something in common, he was Canadian and I'm Canadian!

"I promise you, before I die I'll surely come to your doorstep"

Re: Raymond Massey 1896-1983

Many great performances on both stage and screen, marvellous actor. Has anyone read his two autobiographies?.

Re: Raymond Massey 1896-1983

I think Raymond Massey would have made a great Matthew Harrison Brady in INHERIT THE WIND. I'm only saying that would have been the case if Fredric March was unavailable.

Re: Raymond Massey 1896-1983

What a great idea! I liked Fredric March as Brady the first time I saw Inherit The Wind, but as the years went by when I watched the film a few more times, March strikes me as overplaying Brady, drawing too much attention to himself and his character.

Raymond Massey would have killed as Brady; and Spencer Tracy, in the Clarence Darrow role, might not have liked that. Maybe they could have meshed and made a good show of it. Massey as Brady would have made for a very different film.

The one thing that would have worked against Massey: his innate refinement, his aristocratic demeanor and bearing. I've seen Massey able to overcome that quality on occasion, but it drew attention to his "acting a role", and didn't feel as natural as when he played "gentleman" sorts.

Re: Raymond Massey 1896-1983

I like March as Brady. I think he was playing the character to illustrate that he was a dogmatic and extremist character. I've come across a few [not too many, but a few] like Brady.

As for Raymond Massey, I think he could have pulled it off. I think his refinement and aristocratic manner would have worked because Brady [Bryan] was supposed to have a "silver tongue." Massey had such a voice that made you think he could speak in a Chataqua tent.

Massey had also played some overzealous religious characters before.

Re: Raymond Massey 1896-1983

Yes, Massey was super casting for a zealot, however, he always seemed to have a sophisticated quality that made him stand out. Some actors, even excellent ones, such as Edward Arnold, can't seem to wholly shed their urban personas. I felt that Arnold, fine actor that he was, had a smarminess in his voice that he couldn't restrain, which made him miscast for Daniel Webster. He did have a beautiful voice, though.

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Re: Raymond Massey 1896-1983

He was one of the greats all right. He deserves respect.