Film legend James Mason’s look back at his home town Huddersfield to be screen in centenary of star’s birth
A POIGNANT look back into Huddersfield’s history comes to the town’s university next week.
And it’s in the hands of one of the town’s most famous sons.
A special free screening of a rare documentary Home James will enable local people to see a vision of a Huddersfield that was about to change for ever, seen through the eyes of Hollywood film star James Mason.
It was part of an attempt by Mason to rediscover his roots and make peace with his home town.
It was in 1972 that the star teamed up with Yorkshire Television to make a 50-minute feature. He was filmed revisiting and rediscovering Huddersfield, the town of his birth, in 1909.
The programme is now a fascinating historical document, and the University of Huddersfield’s Prof Paul Ward – who has been researching James Mason – decided that it deserved a public showing during the centenary of the star’s birth.
Home James will be shown at the University’s Canalside West lecture theatre on Thursday March 26 at 6pm. Prof Ward will introduce the screening by describing James Mason’s complex relationship with his home town.
He said: "The documentary is a culmination of his attempt to reintegrate himself into the area.
"When he went to America in 1947 he had given an interview for Time magazine and when pressed about Huddersfield he said how much he disliked it, how he never wanted to see his parents again and never wanted to visit the town again.
"At one point in the 1950s, Mason threatened to take out American citizenship. But by the 1960s, after a messy divorce, he tried to re-establish himself as a British actor rooted in the North.
"He began to revisit his parents and he made Spring And Port Wine, filmed in Lancashire.
"Making Home James was a culmination of all these things.
"What he was seeking to do was show Yorkshire people that he was one of them. It was also his opportunity to make it up with his home town … but the Huddersfield he makes up with is very much the Huddersfield of the past."
During the documentary, Mason stresses the unique character of Huddersfield and its cultural and industrial heritage. But Home James concentrates on the town’s elite – the film is full of Rolls Royces and cocktail parties – and it celebrates the last hurrah of the old industrial Huddersfield.
"There is a sense of loss in the film," said Prof Ward. "He knows things are coming to end but he doesn’t want them to."
Attendance is free, but contact Prof Ward to reserve a place: email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01484 472452.