Freemasonry in Cinema

Freemasonry is a part of the material culture, as its membership is drawn in from those of us who live in it. With that in mind, it is no wonder that it would not seep into the most evident modern art form, the cinema. But with the new media, the craft has also made its way into the digital age. As the knowledge and ideas of the fraternity permeate deeper still, I’m sure we can come to expect an ever increasing role on the screen.

In this section, we will explore the presence of Freemasonry in both the digital age, and in the cinema.

Freemasonry in the Movies

10,000 B.C. (2008)

This fictional account of proto-history follows the story of a young prehistoric mammoth hunter’s journey through uncharted land to secure the future of his tribe.

The film takes the audience into a proto-Egypt and the construction of 3 great pyramids overseen by a proto Indian/Egyptian priest caste giving a faint nod to the Egyptian mystery schools, which would evolve into the later foundations of Freemasonry and other “secret” orders. In the film, this early iteration of the master builders as religious leaders fall prey to corrupt minds ruling by instilling a fear of sacrifice. In the film astrology was also heavily emphasized as the priest caste made use of a sort of an early telescope that they used to chart the sky and foretelling the destiny of their leader. It is in this part that an obvious emblem of Masonry appears with a brief glimpses of a compass atop a table (tracing board?) atop the plans to the temple.

Read a full review of the film here.

Across the Pacific (1942)

Humphrey Bogart is an American Army officer expelled on false charges of treason. In a shipboard scene, jujitsu exercises performed by Chinese sailors are compared to the initiatory nature of Freemasonry. Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet. Directed by John Huston. USA, English.

Affair of the Necklace (2001)

Christopher Walken plays Cagliostro, self-styled “the Grand Master of the Illuminati”, while Jonathan Pryce, as Bishop Rohen, hides his personal correspondence behind a panel in a desk decorated with masonic symbols. Hilary Swank, Jonathan Pryce, Adrien Brody, Brian Cox, Joely Richardson, Christopher Walken. Directed by Charles Shyer, written by John Sweet. Drama R 117 min., USA, English. Technicolor.

Anatomie (2000)

A student member of the Anti-Hippocratic Society “a cross between the Freemasons and a college fraternity with old rituals, a lodge, the whole thing” starts a killing spree that ends with the death of the Grand Master and the exposure of the society. Franka Potente, Benno Ffrmann, Anna Loos, Sebastian Blomberg, Holger Speckhahn, Traugott Buhre. Directed and written by Stefan Ruzowitzky. AKA: Anatomy. 103 min. Germany, German / Latin. Colour, Dolby. (Horror)

1915 silent film starring John BarrymoreAre You a Mason? (1915)

Based on a play by Leo Ditrichstein in which two non-masons attempt to convince others that they are masons. John Barrymore, Helen Freeman, Charles Dixon, Harold Lockwood. Directed by Thomas N. Heffron, written by Leo Ditrichstein (play) Eve Unsell. USA, English. Black and White, Silent. (Comedy).

Are You a Mason? (1934)

Sonnie Hale, Robertson Hare, Davy Burnaby, Gwyneth Lloyd, Bertha Belmore, Joyce Kirby. Directed by Henry Edwards, written by Leo Ditrichstein (play) Emanuel Lederer (play). 70 min. UK, English. Black and White, Mono. (Comedy).

Bad Boys II (2003)

Narcotics officers Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Bennett (Martin Lawrence) use a tile installer’s truck, with a square and compasses sticker over the back bumper [00:18:00]. Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Jordi Moll\’88, Gabrielle Union, Peter Stormare. Directed by Michael Bay, written by George Gallo, Marianne Wibberley. 150 min. USA, English, Colour (Comedy).

Big Fish (2003)

Ed Bloom, played by Ewan McGregor, is given the key to the city and a parade when he leaves his small hometown. The parade consists entirely of Ed, his travelling companion, Karl, and six Shriners in mini-cars [00:30:00]. Directed by Tim Burton, written by Daniel Wallace (novel) John August (screenplay) Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange. (Drama / Fantasy / Comedy). 124 min., USA, English. Colour, Dolby.

Bird (1988)

A biography of jazz musician Charlie “Yardbird” Parker. In a cemetery scene the camera pans across a row of monuments, one of which displays a square and compasses. Forest Whitaker, Diane Venora. Produced and directed by Clint Eastwood, written by Joel Oliansky. 160 min., USA, English. Color.

Bobby Bumps Starts a lodge (1916)

Young Bobby Bumps plays a trick on his friend who wants to be initiated into his lodge. When his friend outsmarts him and saves his life, they both agree to be initiated into the lodge together. Reference is made to a lodge apron, goat and third degree. Bray Productions, Inc. Paramount Pictures. Directed by Earl Hurd (d. 1940). Produced by J. R. Bray. piano score composed and performed by Philip Carli. 5:15 min/24 fps. Released September 28, 1916. 1 reel of 1 (ca. 615 ft.) : silent animation, b&w ; 35 mm.

Check and Double Check (1930)

Amos ‘n Andy’s lodge, the Mystic Knights of the Sea, plays a role in the only movie made by this popular 1930s radio comedy team. Members of the lodge wear fezzes and vote in a manner burlesquing that used in Freemasonry. Freeman F. Gosden, Charles J. Correll. Produced by William LaBaron. Story, dialogue and music by Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby. Directed by Melville Brown. RKO Radio Pictures. 85 min., USA, English, Black and White (Comedy).

Bruce Dickinson Presents: Crowley (2008)

The 2008 film Chemical Wedding is a fictional story about the resurrection of the 20th century occultist Aleister Crowley. Written by Bruce Dickinson and Julian Doyle. Best described as a low budget horror flick, Chemical Wedding fulfills every expectation that that description creates: the story line is kind of cheesy, the effects are mediocre, and it features numerous sexual situations.

The story of the film is fairly straight forward. A professor of theology at Cambridge University is involved in a virtual reality experiment which goes horribly wrong and becomes the reincarnation of Aleister Crowley. Crowley comes to rebuild the temple in three days and perform a virgin birth. Crowley’s objectives during the movie rely heavily on adaptations of Crowley’s interpretations of the Christian Gospels and the story of Osiris. He regards the impregnation of Isis by a reed as the greatest form of sex magick and seeks to recreate the event through a chemical wedding with a red-headed woman.

Read a full review of the film here.

Conspiracy Theory (1997)

Mel Gibson, as programmed assassin turned cabbie, Jerry Fletcher, says “I mean George Bush knew what he was saying when he said New World Order, you remember those fatal words, New World Order? Well he was a 33rd degree mason you know and an ex director of the CIA.” [00:01:40]. Sandra Bullock, as justice department lawyer, Alice Sutton, says: “I suppose they have a secret handshake.” [00:38:29]. Other references, if intended as such, are less obvious. Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart. Directed by Richard Donner, written by Brian Helgeland. Warner Bros. 129 min., USA, English, Colour (Drama).

Cremaster Cycle (1995-2002)

A set of five art films with numerous masonic references. Directed by Matthew Barney, written by Matthew Barney. Cremaster 1 (1995): Marti Domination, Gemma Bourdon Smith, Kathleen Crepeau. 40 min. USA, English. Colour, Mono. , Cremaster 2 (1999), Cremaster 3 (2002), Cremaster 4 (1994), Cremaster 5 (1997): Ursula Andress, Matthew Barney, Joanne Rha. 55 min. USA, Hungarian, Color.

Dolores Claiborne (1995)

Delores’ bank manager who is wearing a square and compasses lapel pin, tells her that her husband has emptied their joint savings account. Kathy Bates as Dolores Claiborne, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judy Parfitt, Christopher Plummer. Directed by Taylor Hackford, written by Stephen King (book), screenplay by Tony Gilroy. 132 min., USA, English. Dolby Digital, Technocolour.

Elmer Gantry (1960)

Edward Andrews as real estate agent, George F. Babbitt, says, “Do you realize that practically every American president was a mason and a Protestant?” He later exclaims, “I’m in business! I’m a thirty-second degree mason!” Burt Lancaster, Jean Simmons, Shirley Jones. Directed and written by Richard Brooks. Novel by Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951). Fox, MGM, 146 min. USA, English, Color.

End of Days (1999)

Arnold Schwartzenegger plays a former police officer who carries an amulet. At one point he says “Now this amulet is from a masonic order in the former sub-heredom of the Vatican Knights, the Knights of the Holy See. They await the return of the dark angel to earth.” Also, during the opening titles Elephis Levi’s baphomet can be briefly seen. Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollak, Rod Steiger. Directed by Peter Hyams, written by Andrew W. Marlowe.

Erin Brockovich (2000)

The cornerstone of the Barstow Courthouse displays a square and compasses. Although there is a report that in a later scene a friend of Erin tells her that her husband is out at a lodge meeting, your editor has been unable to find this scene in the DVD release. Julia Roberts, David Brisbin, Dawn Didawick, Albert Finney. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, written by Susannah Grant. 130 min. USA, English, Color.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Although there are no overt Masonic references in this movie, anti-masons and those unclear on the distinction between real-world Freemasonry and the iconography of the conspiracy mythos see a private club as representing a masonic secret society. In one scene a character is seen sitting in a throne-like chair, the back of which is surmounted by a globe over two eagles. Also, themes of secrecy, secret socities and an underlying sense of the Illuminaiti are deeply woven into the films subtexts. Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, written by Arthur Schnitzler. USA, English, Color

Flash Gordon (1980)

Ming’s chief henchman and torturer, Klytus, is shown wearing a square and compasses on the front of his uniform. Sam J. Jones and Melody Anderson, with Max von Sydow as Ming the Merciless. Directed by Mike Hodges. 111 min., USA, English. Color.

Forces Occultes – Au Coeur De La Franc-Maconnerie (1943)

Forces occultesForces occultes (Occult Forces – subtitled The mysteries of Freemasonry unveiled for the first time on the screen) is a French film of 1943, notable as the last film to be directed by Paul Riche.

The film tells the story of a young deputy who joins the Freemasons in order to reestablish his career. In the process he learns of how the Freemasons are conspiring with the Jews and the Anglo-American nations to encourage France into a war against Germany. The film was commissioned by the Propaganda Abteilung, a delegation of Nazi Germany’s propaganda ministry within occupied France in 1942. Directed by Jean Mamy, written by Jean Marquès-Rivière, starring Maurice Rémy, Marcel Vibert, Auguste Bovério.Runtime: 43 min, Mono, Black and White. (propoganda)

The Freemason (2013)

thefreemason_movie_poster_small_webPresented as a modern day who-done-it, The Freemason is one part detective film, one part murder mystery wrapped in a cloak of mystery and secrecy. While the inclusion of Freemasonry in the film isn’t the sum total of the film, it does play a leading role in the telling of the story. This film does a tremendous service in expressing the meaning and association of being a mason in a classic film noir format.

From IMDB: A wealthy banker lies ritualistically and brutally murdered. The banker’s daughter and only heir, Rana (Alex McKenna), calls upon Cyrus Rothwell (Randy Wayne), a brilliant but eccentric freelance writer, to assist in the investigation. Teaming up with veteran homicide detective Leon Weed (Sean Astin), they suddenly find themselves thrust into the cryptic world of Freemasonry- pitted against a killer searching for a legendary relic, shrouded by hundreds of years of myth and mystery. Rothwell’s troubles multiply as he deduces the killer is one of the banker’s close inner circle.

Featuring Sean Astin, Randy Wayne, Alex McKenna, Richard Dutcher and Joseph James. USA, English, PG-13, 95 min., Color.

This film was the inspiration of filmmaker (and Mason) Joseph James – Teller of Masonic Murder Mysteries on Freemasonry and the Cinema.

From Hell (2001)

Implicates the Craft as being responsible for the Whitechapel murders in London. The many masonic images and references places this movie in the category of intentional anti-masonry. Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm. Directed by Albert Hughes, based on a graphic novel written by Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell. USA, English, 121 min., Color.

For a more in-depth look at From Hell, listen to a discussion on the film from Masonic Central – From HELL, Masonic Central by gas light.

The Gate (1987)

This 1987 camp cult classic follows a young Stephen Dorff in a backyard adventure that leads them to opening a literal gate to hell. To close it, he and his companions consult a heavy metal record album liner notes on how to close it, which is where we run across the square and compass as part of the ritual notes. What’s most interesting in the film is it’s connection to the Satanic Panic of the 1980’s, a subject that is explored more in a post on the film, When Masonry and Satanism crossed paths.

Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)

In a depiction of a true story, convicted murderer, Byron “Delay” De La Beckwith played by James Wood is shown driving a car with a Shriners symbol attached to his rear view mirror and, in several scenes, wearing a Shriners lapel pin. His victim, black activist Medger W. Evers, is shown in his coffin with his Order of Elks fez placed on his chest. Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg, James Woods. Directed by Rob Reiner, written by Leo Colick, Columbia Pictures & Castle Rock Entertainment. USA, Color

The Godfather Part III (1990)

This fictional film echoes several events of the 1981 Italian P2 scandal. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, written by Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola. Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, George Hamilton, Bridget Fonda, Sofia Coppola. 162 min / USA:169 min (video version). USA

Help! (1965)

Ringo Starr asks an Indian restaurant doorman, “You know what this ring means?” He replies, “Freemason?” Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Leo McKern. Directed by Richard Lester, written by Charles Wood, Marc Behm.

Hobson’s Choice (1954)

Submitted by reader John Whalley.

HobsonschoiceAt the beginning of the film, an inebriated Henry Hobson (Charles Laughton) returns home the worse for drink and his eldest daughter, Maggie, says:

“Good job your Masons meetings are only once a month”

Shortly after that the lodge is mentioned again when a business associate pays a visit and is told the owner is not down for breakfast yet by Maggie who says:

“…after the Masons meeting he’d had last night.”

Starring Charles Laughton, John Mills. Directed by David Lean. Written by Harold Brighouse, David Lean, Wynyard Browne and Harold Brighouse.

Hollywood Homicide (2003)

Keith David as Leon, Detective Joe Gavilan’s supervising officer, wears a masonic ring [00:55:50], clearly seen on the hand he’s holding the phone with. Harrison Ford, Josh Hartnett, Lena Olin, Bruce Greenwood, Isaiah Washington, Lolita Davidovich, Keith David, Master P, Dwight Yoakam, Martin Landau, Lou Diamond Phillips, Gladys Knight. Directed by Ron Shelton, written by Robert Souza, Ron Shelton. 116 min. USA, English. Colour, Dolby Digital (Action)

How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

When Betty Grable returns from what she had expected to be an Elks Lodge convention [00:50:04], she tells Lauren Bacall that she had got married. Lauren exclaims “Not to that Shriner!” [01:40:05] Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, David Wayne, Rory Calhoun, Cameron Mitchell, Alexander D’Arcy, Fred Clark, William Powell. Directed by Jean Negulesco, written by Zoe Akins, Dale Eunson. 95 min. USA, English. Technicolor, (Comedy)

In Cold Blood (1967)

During a police interrogation, accused murderer Dick Hickock says: “Everybody’s got a tattoo. Only you people call them clubs. Elks, Masons, Boy Scouts. Salute. High sign. Low sign. Secret this and secret that.” [01:29:00] A different line appears in the original book. Robert Blake, Scott Wilson. Directed and written by Richard Brooks, Truman Capote (book). 134 minutes. USA, English, B&W.

The Innocent Sleep (1996)

A drunken derelict in London finds himself being pursued by a corrupt cop after witnessing a murder and stumbling onto a high-level international conspiracy. Oliver Cotton, Tony Bluto Thorn, Paul Brightwell.

JFK (1991)

Kevin Costner as District Attorney Jim Garrison investigates Kennedy’s assassination. Although there are no obvious masonic references, conspiracy theorists who have done a frame-by-frame analysis of the video release claim to observe many masonic symbols and references. These seem to be limited to images of skulls and UFOs and depictions of “secret hand signs”, none of which are masonic. Costner is also, without citation, alleged to be a Freemason. It is an interesting bit of film trivia that the Oval Office scenes were filmed in the Dallas, Texas, Scottish Rite Temple. Directed by Oliver Stone. Warner Bros.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Although no link is made with Freemasonry, in this movie the Illuminati are perceived as a group of “devious dangerous men who seek to fulfil an ancient prophesy.” The Illuminati has no contemporary masonic link, and the eye in a triangle has no unique masonic significance. But their popular association with Freemasonry in fiction requires that their use in this movie be noted on this page. Directed by Simon West, written by Sara B. Cooper and Mike Werb. Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Iain Glen, Noah Taylor, Daniel Craig. 100 min. USA, English. Colour (DeLuxe), Dolby Digital. (Action).

League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

The square and compasses appear four times: twice in close-ups of an oversize masonic ring worn by the Phantom, a villain who tries to ignite a world war at the turn of the last century in order to create a market for his futuristic weapons and once on the office doors of the founder of the League, “M”, who is later revealed to be the same person. No other reference is made to Freemasonry. A shot of the square and compasses four big shiny ones that flash and sparkle in the light as the door on which they’re mounted closes also appears in the trailer. Sean Connery. Based on a graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore, who also gave us From Hell.

Like Water for Chocolate [Como agua para chocolate] (1992)

A masonic funeral is briefly seen through a window. Later, the young doctor shows the main character a drawing incorporating the square and compasses and an all-seeing eye [00:37:35] . Marco Leonardi, Tita Regina Tornn Martnez. Directed by Alfonso Arau, written by Laura Esquivel. Novel by Laura Esquivel. 123 min. Mexico : Spanish

Lion King (1994)

The head lion’s partner carries a cane with two balls attached to it. While not explicitely masonic, freemasons will recognize a common masonic pun. Animation: voices- Rowan Atkinson, Matthew Broderick, Niketa Calame, Whoopi Goldberg. Directed by Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff, written by Jim Capobianco, Irene Mecchi. English, 89 min. Disney animation.

Lone Star (1996)

Corrupt sheriff Charley Wade, played by Kris Kristofferson, is identified as a mason by his ring as the movie begins. Stephen Mendillo, Stephen J. Lang, Chris Cooper. Directed and written by John Sayles. USA, English, 135 min. (Drama/Mystery).

Lost Horizon (1937)

British diplomat Robert Conway and three others crash land in the Himalayas, and are rescued by the people of the mysterious, Eden-like valley of Shangri-la. Edward Everett Horton is interrupted, as he exclaims, “I’ve just finished translating one of the most interesting old tablets you can imagine. It told me all about the origin of the masonic symbols and science and….” Ronald Colman as Conway, Edward Everett Horton as Alexander P. Lovett. Directed by Frank Capra, written by James Hilton & Robert Riskin. 132 min., USA, English, b&w.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

Edwin Hodgeman as Dr. Dealgood, the announcer introducing the fight between Max and Blaster wears a square and compasses image on his shirt front. Frank Thring, as the Collector, wears a lapel jewel that may be from a concordant masonic body. Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Bruce Spence. Directed by George Millar. Australia/USA, English, 107 min. Colour, Dolby (Action/SF).

The Majestic (2001)

Unrelated to the story, the square and compasses symbol can be seen once on a mausoleum in the cemetery scene and once on a building on Main Street in the later half of the movie. Jim Carrey, Bob Balaban, Jeffrey DeMunn, Hal Holbrook, Laurie Holden, Martin Landau. Directed by Frank Darabont, written by Michael Sloane. 152 min. USA, English. Technicolor, Dolby Digital. (Drama / Romance).

The Man Who Would Be King (1975)

Based on a Rudyard Kipling story. Mercenary soldiers convince Kafiristan tribes people that they are gods after discovering masonic symbols on religious artifacts. Sean Connery, Michael Caine. Directed by John Huston. 129 min. UK/USA, English, Colour. (Drama/Action).

Listen to an interesting discussion on the film from an episode of Masonic Central at the Movies.

Magnolia (1999)

Just before gameshow host Jimmy Gator, played by Philip Baker Hall, goes on stage, Burt Ramsey, played by Ricky Jay, is wearing a masonic ring, asks him, “You with me, Jimmy?” Jimmy says, “The book says we may be through with the past but the past ain’t through with us.” to which Burt replies, “We met upon the level and we’re parting on the square.” While studying in the public library, game show contestant Stanley Specter, played by Jeremy Blackman, has a stack of books, one of which is Mackey’s History of Freemasonry. Almost masonic is the stage backdrop which includes a number of symbols one of which is a compasses over a laurel. Of no masonic significance, it is a curious piece of foreshadowing when a stagehand briefly flashes a cue card with “Exodus 8:12” written on it. The movie ends with a rain of frogs. Jason Robards, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Tom Cruise, Philip Baker Hall, Melora Waters, John C. Reilly, Jeremy Blackman, William H. Macy. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, written by Paul Thomas Anderson. 188 min. USA, English. Color (DeLuxe), Dolby Digital. R. (Drama).

Millennium (1996)

A former FBI profiler moves his family from Washington DC to Seattle, where he joins the Millennium Group, a mysterious organization of former law enforcement officers, committed to battling a crime wave which grows as the turn of the millennium approaches.

Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Seen on “Drop” Johnson’s apartment wall is a poster for a fight Saturday Night at the Masonic Hall [01:32:08]. Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, John Turturro, J.E. Freeman, Albert Finney, Mike Starr, Al Mancini, Steve Buscemi. Directed by Joel Coen, Written by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen. 115 min. USA, English/Italian/Gaelic. Color, Dolby SR . (Crime / Drama / Thriller).

Monty Python’s And Now for Something Completely Different (1971)

Michael Palin, Hosting the game show “Blackmail”, at 17333 on DVD counter. Script Reads: Thank you Onan! And now a letter, a hotel registration book, and a series of photographs, which could add up to divorce, premature retirement, and possible criminal proceedings for a company director in Bromsgrove. He’s a freemason, and a conservative M.P., so that’s 3,000 pounds please Mr. S… thank you… to stop us from revealing: Your name. The name of the three other people involved, The youth organization to which they belonged, and The shop where you bought the equipment! Monty Python’s And Now for Something Completely Different (UK) (complete title), Runtime: 85 min, Country: UK, Language: English, Color: Color (Eastmancolor), Sound Mix: Mono (Comedy)

Skits on Freemasonry also appeared on other Monty Python productions:

Monty Python and the Freemasons – The Architect Sketch

and How to Recognize a Mason, both from The Complete Monty Pythons Flying Circus.

The Mummy Returns (2001)

The question is asked by a protector of man and a servant of God, “If I were to tell you that I was a stranger travelling from the East, what would you say?” Brendan Fraser’s character replies, “I would tell you that I was a traveller coming from the west to meet you.” Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo. Directed by Stephen Sommers, written by Stephen Sommers. USA, English, Color.

Murder by Decree (1979)

Sherlock Holmes investigates London’s most infamous case, Jack the Ripper. As he investigates, he finds that the Ripper has friends in high places, implicating freemasons. Christopher Plummer, James Mason. Directed by Bob Clark.

Nashville (1975)

While Ronee Blakley sings at an outdoors concert the camera pans across the audience, several of whom are Shriners. David Arkin, Barbara Baxley, Ned Beatty, Karen Black, Ronee Blakley, Timothy Brown, Keith Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Robert DoQui, Shelley Duvall, Allen Garfield, Henry Gibson, Scott Glenn, Jeff Goldblum, et al. Directed by Robert Altman, written by Joan Tewkesbury. 1975. 159 min. USA, English, Metrocolour, Stereo (Drama).

National Treasure (2004)

Benjamin Franklin Gates, played by Nicholas Cage, descends from a family of treasure-seekers who’ve all hunted for the same thing: a war chest hidden by the American founding fathers. This movie is a fictional attempt to link the Freemasons, the Knights Templar and the founding of the USA through the use of various symbols.

Nicolas Cage, Justin Bartha, Sean Bean, Diane Kruger, Harvey Keitel, Christopher Plummer, Jon Voight. Directed by Jon Turteltaub, written by Ted Elliott, E. Max Frye. USA, English. Colour, Stereo. (Adventure).

National Treasure – Book of Secrets (2007)

Nicolas Cage returns as Benjamin Gates, this time on the trail of the Presidential Book of Secrets, which includes mentions of the Scottish Rite’s Albert Pike, and the American founding fathers. The pre-release advertising of the film leaned heavily on the Masonic connections of its predecessor film National Treasure, while the film itself focused on another “fraternity” in the Knights of the Golden Circle.

Once a Mason (1919)

Sidney Drew, Mrs. Sidney Drew. Directed by Mrs. Sidney Drew, Sidney Drew, written by Mrs. Sidney Drew, Sidney Drew. USA, English. Black and White, Silent. (Comedy).

Overboard (1987)

In the beginning of the movie, as Dean (Kurt) is driving into town, the camera pans past the “Welcome to “Elk Cove” sign. Attached is a very obvious large blue masonic emblem. Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Edward Herrmann, Katherine Helmond, Michael G. Hagerty, Roddy McDowall. Directed by Garry Marshall, written by Leslie Dixon . 106 min / 112 min (TCM print). USA, English. Metrocolour, Dolby.

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Neared its end, there came a scene that made me chuckle and find a thread to pull with a link to Freemasonry. In the films transition from a faux cinéma vérité into a DIY shaky camera aesthetic, a la Blair Witch Project, we catch a glimpse of the why the activity is so paranormal. This is the last 15 minutes of the film that Derrick Deane of says “.. will ‘Mess You Up For Life’” which is right about where we find the Masonic connection.

Read more on the Masonic connections in the film here.

Piratene (1983)

The Internet Movie Database lists this film under the keyword “freemason” without giving details. Trond Peter Stams\’bf Munch, Kristian Figenschow, Guri Johnson. directed by Morten Kolstad, written by Bj\’bfrn-Erik Hanssen. 93 min Norway / Denmark, Norwegian. Color.

Prisoners (2013)

The plot focuses on the abduction of two young girls in Pennsylvania and the subsequent search. Hugh Jackman stars as a man facing every parent’s worst nightmare. His six-year-old daughter is missing, together with her young friend — and as minutes turn to hours, panic sets in. Detective Loki, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, wears a Masonic ring throughout the entire movie, perhaps a reference of his being a “good man” in light of the actions of Jackman’s actions.

Revelation (2001)

The Knights Templar are searching for an ancient relic, the Loculus, so that they can resurrect Christ. Lord Martel tells the story of a masonic order called the Knights Templars (sic); a Knights Templar ceremony, several all-seeing eye symbols and pentagrams are depicted. A TV newscast mentions an illegal masonic order called the P2 CIA; the camera then pans to the word “Masonic” on a newspaper headline. The overall theme of the movie is anti-masonic. Terence Stamp, James D’Arcy, Natasha Wightman, Liam Cunningham, Heathcote Williams, Derek Jacobi. Directed by Stuart Urban, written by Frank Falco (idea) Stuart Urban. 111 min. UK, English, Colour (DeLuxe), Dolby Digital. Romulus Films, Overseas Filmgroup (Drama/Fantasy).

Rosewood (1997)

Based on an actual incident in 1923, this movie has played fast and loose with the historical facts but none-the-less presents a scathing and realistic indictment of the times. While there is evidence of a masonic angle, the movie gives it far too much prominence. Masonic symbols are prominently displayed in several scenes. Jon Voight, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle. Directed by John Singleton, written by Gregory Poirier. 140 min. USA, English. Technicolor, Dolby Digital. R. (Action/Drama).

Listen to a lively discussion on Rosewood with Masonic Central at the Movies from 2008.

Season of the Witch (2011)

In this film Nicolas Cage plays Behman, a long standing (Templar?) Knight of the crusades who grows weary of the holy Catholic Church’s work in slaughtering innocent people, only to be pulled into one last mission to save an innocent girl possessed by the spirit of a powerful demon.  In the film, the knight rely’s on an obscure text on how to slay the demon and its ilk is a Latin reading of the “Wisdom of King Solomon”, a powerful spell that destroys witches and demons.

The Searchers (1956)

In a scene where Wayne rides into a Camanche camp after a battle, one of the dead Camanches is lying sprawled face up, wearing a blue cloth apron, similar in size to a masonic apron, with white ribbons sewn in the shape of a square and compasses. John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Ward Bond, Natalie Wood. Directed by John Ford, Script by Frank Nugen. USA. English, 120 min., Colour (Western).

Secrets (1982)

A group of girls at a boarding school re-enact a masonic ritual based on one girl’s deceased father’s ritual book. Helen Lindesey, Anne Campbell-Jones, Daisy Cockburn, Directed by Gavin Millar. British.

The Shop on Main Street (1965)

In 1943 Czechoslovakia a police officer warns a nightclub crowd that they will have no mercy on “Jew-Bolshevists, Freemasons, plutocrats and other riff-raff.” [01:43:20] (Obchod na Korze) Id Kaminsk, Josef Kroner. Directed by Jn Kadr & Elmar Klos, screenplay by L. Grosman, Jn Kadr & Elmar Klos. 1965. 125 min. Czechoslovakia, Czechoslovakian, Filmov, Studio Barrandov. b&w, mono.

Slacker (1991)

A montage of interconnected conversations and monologues, one is a rant on UFO conspiracies, one is on Kennedy assassination conspiracies and one later conversation is about the freemasons: ” The reason these guys are being forgotten though, is that they’re not freemasons. The masons are the one’s that control history. Look at it, every… every president but one: mason. Every man that’s walked on the moon… thirty-third degree mason. I mean, look at the Warren commission, a Shriner convention without go-carts.” ” Exactly. The slate of American history needs to be wiped clean. We need to start all over again. Let’s put Larry Fieman in the history books. Let’s put Squeaky Fromme on the one dollar bill.” ” Least we ought to get that masonic pyramid bullshit off the back.” [01:14:40]Directed and written by Richard Linklater. Espresso Czar/Masonic Malcontent played by Dan Kratochvil. 97 min. USA, English. Color.

Laurel and Hardy: Sons of the Desert (1933)

Fezz-wearing Stan and Ollie go to a convention styled after the Shriners, returning home to learn that honesty is the best policy. Stanley Laural and Freemason Oliver Hardy, Charley Chase Directed by Lloyd French & William A. Seiter, written by Frank Craven. 73 min. b&w (Comedy).

Laurel & Hardy – Sons of the Desert(B&W) by herbert-hueller

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)

A remake of the animated Disney film of the same name, Apprentice tells the story of  Balthazar Blake, played by Nicolas Cage, as a sorcerer trained by Merlin who’s magic is akin to Alchemy and the power of the mind, a theme prevalent in Rosicrucian and New Thought circles and similar to the ideas of the Kybalion, that everything is mental – the power of the mind. A strong theme in the film links the ideas of magick to modern physics and the science behind energy.

Take Me Out To The Ball Game (1948)

The lyrics in the closing number, a reprise of Strictly USA, end with: “Like the annual Elks convention / Like masonic halls or firemen’s balls / Like honeymooning at Niagara Falls / They’re really here to stay / Cause it’s strictly USA.” Directed by Busby Berkeley, produced by Arthur Freed, written by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. Frank Sinatra, Esther Williams, Gene Kelly, Betty Garrett. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Loew’s Incorporated. 93 min. USA. English, Technicolor. (Musical / Comedy)

Things to Come (1936)

In the year 1936 a global war begins. This war drags out over many decades. Raymond Massey as John Cabal/Oswald Cabal makes a reference to “The brotherhood of efficiency. The freemasonry of science.” [00:36:00] A later reference to “our children’s children” and the framing of many shots by pillars or arches is not necessarily significant. Edward Chapman as Pippa Passworthy/Raymond Passworthy, Ralph Richardson as The Boss, Margaretta Scott as Roxana/Rowena. Directed by William Cameron Menzies, Writing credits: H.G. Wells (also novel-The Shape of Things to Come) AKA: The Shape of Things to Come. UK, English, 100 min., b&w, Mono.

Time Bandits (1981)

A time traveling epic fantasy. One of the band of dwarfs is seen wearing a heavy medallion possibly incorporating a square and compasses. John Cleese, Sean Connery, Shelly Duvall. Directed by Terry Gilliam, written by Michael Palin. UK, English, 110 min., Colour , Stereo. (Sci-Fi).

The Time Machine (1960)

Based on H. G. Wells’ 1895 novel. David Filby, played by Alan Young, says to George Wells, played by Rod Taylor: “George, I speak to you as a friend, and even more, as a brother….” although the characters are not related. This line does not appear in the novel. Filby and his four friends all wear watch fobs but none are seen in enough detail to determine if they are masonic. Referring to a hypothetical time traveller, George alludes to another H. G. Wells novel when he says, “Can he change the shape of things to come?” [See Things to Come, above.] Rod Taylor, Alan Young, Yvette Mimieux, Sebastian Cabot. Directed by George Pal, written by H. G. Wells (novel), David Duncan. 103 min. USA, English. Metrocolour, Stereo (Drama).

Tombstone (1993)

A retelling of the gunfight at the OK Corral and its aftermath. Jon Tenney, as John Behan, Cochise County Sheriff wears a square and compasses watchfob. Buck Taylor, as Turkey Creek Jack Johnson, wearing a square and compasses pendant responds to Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday saying he has no friends by saying, “Hell, I’ve got lots of friends.” Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer. Directed by George P. Cosmatos, written by Kevin Jarre. USA, English. 130 min. Dolby, Technicolor (Western).

Topsy-Turvy (1999)

After reading a luke-warm review of Princess Aida W. S. Gilbert, played by Jim Broadbent, exclaims: “So mote it be!” While both Gilbert and Sullivan were freemasons, and the expression “So mote it be” is common to freemasonry, there are no real masonic references in this movie. Directed and written by Mike Leigh. Allan Corduner (Arthur Sullivan), Jim Broadbent (Sir William Gilbert). 160 min. UK, English. Colour, Dolby Digital.

True Grit (1969)

Kim Darby’s character, Matty, on viewing her recently deceased father in a coffin in a funeral parlor, tells the farm hand, “When you get home, you put him in a better coffin and you bury him in a mason’s apron.” [00:13:12] This line is based on the 1968 novel by Charles Portis. John Wayne, Glen Campbell, Robert Duvall. Directed by Henry Hathaway. USA, English. Color (Western)

U-Turn (1997)

A married real estate salesman, Jake McKenna played by Nick Nolte, in Superior Arizona later married his daughter by his Apache mistress then hires a gambler on the run to kill her. He wears a masonic ring, seen in a close-up [00:41:05]. Directed by Oliver Stone, written by John Ridley. Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Lopez, Powers Boothe, Claire Danes, Joaquin Phoenix, Jon Voight, Billy Bob Thornton. 125 min, France / USA, English. Technicolor, Dolby Digital. (Drama).

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

A masonic ring is worn by Ken Carver [01:07:06];, a small-town Insurance salesman trying too hard to be an attentive father. Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis. Directed by Lasse Hallström, written by Peter Hedges. 118 min. USA, English. Color, Dolby. (Drama).

What Planet Are You From? (2000)

Garry Shandling plays Harold Anderson who is an extraterrestrial working as a loans officer in a bank. His manager, Don Fisk played by Richard Jenkins, wears a masonic lapel pin. He is also wearing a wedding band and claims to be having an affair with one of his employees. Directed by Mike Nichols, Written by Garry Shandling, Michael Leeson. Garry Shandling, Annette Bening, John Goodman, Greg Kinnear, Ben Kingsley. 104 min. USA, English. Colour (DeLuxe), Dolby Digital / SDDS. R (Comedy).

The Wicker Man (2006)

A remake of the film of the same name, The Wickerman, has stars Nicolas Cage playing Edward Malus, an American policeman who goes on the search for his missing daughter, when he inadvertently finds himself in the middle of an English Wiccan/Pagan Society to become the Burning Wickerman himself at the end. The link to Masonry, though less obvious in the film, is that modern Wiccan/Paganism was founded by Freemason Gerald Gardner who popularized its reemergence in the 1950′s.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Roger hides out in a theatre house, and sees a news reel highlighting a Shriners parade. Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy, Charles Fleischer, Kathleen Turner (uncredited). Directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Gary K. Wolf (novel) Jeffrey Price. 103 min. USA, English. Colour (DeLuxe), Sound Mix: 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) / Dolby (35 mm prints). (Animated)



Adapted  from the original list compiled by Trevor W. McKeown for the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon. Have a suggestion or spot a Masonic element in a film, let us know.


  1. In the 2009 movie “State of Play” starring Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck; Russel Crowe has a thermos with a compass and square on the side of it.

  2. Shoot ’em Up : Paul Giamatti plays a man by the name of Hertz who is the “bad” guy in the movie and you can see him wearing a Square and Compass lapel pin.

  3. In “Sons of the Desert” you correctly point out that co-star Oliver Hardy was a Mason. However you did not remark on the Masonic membership of these actors: John Wayne in “The Searchers” & “True Grit” and Michael Caine in “The Man Who Would Be King”.

  4. I caught the last half of the 2008 remake of The Women with Jada Pinkett-Smith, Meg Ryan, Cloris Leachman, Bette Midler, Candace Bergman, etc and in a scene after the main character decides to open her own fashion studio, she is seen in a majestic room with columns and the checkerboard floor. It is obviously a masonic lodge, but there is no reason for the scene in the movie. She doesn’t do anything or see anyone there, she simply enters the room from an outside door and stands looking. Again, there’s really no reason for the scene at all,logically. Weird.

  5. The pendent (mistakenly identified as a watchfob) in Tombstone worn by Buck Taylor is an older design without the letter “G”. Commonly displayed in this fashion in England, the jewelry is reported to be his father’s.

  6. For many years, it was thought that the Masons in Iran were the key of the 1979 revolution. Well, it was partially true! Because 7 brothers were also members of the Roshaniya Lodge in Afghanistan who with the help of the CIA and MI6 helped with the overthrowing of the Shah.
    The movie “The Golden Veil” made by a fellow mason shows the tip of the iceberg of that incident.
    It would be great if you added it to your list.

  7. “The Man Who Would Be King” is a wonderful movie that has Freemasonry an an underlying theme throughout the film.

  8. Thank you for the research & efforts undertaken in bringing this information to the WWW.
    As a result, I have ordered movies, many of which I have not seen prior.
    I look forward to making the fraternal connection.
    Allen Howes
    Past Master – Half Moon Bay/St Leonards Lodge #634, Melbourne, Australia

  9. “Prisoners” 2013, the detective played by Jake Gyllenhaal wears a Masonic ring throughout the entire movie.

  10. In the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock icon, North by Northwest, there is an unmistakable image of a masonic square and compasses on the black necktie of the auction clerk in the memorable auction scene in which Cary Grant’s character disrupts the auction so that he may be ushered out by police, versus getting killed by the villans.

  11. In “The Millionairess” (1960), Peter Sellers character Dr. Kabir can be seen wearing Royal Arch regalia in a painting.

  12. Re: Flash Gordon and square and compass. I noticed this the last time I watched it but came to the conclusion that it only resembled the square and compass but was not accurate enough to be considered the actual thing. I have heard people say certain lines in the film allude to masonry – “I love initiations’ .. ‘level with me’… he came as a free man of his own will’ etc.

  13. ‘My Dinner With Andre’; has an anecdote about Andre engaging in a ceremony where he buried alive, this is a masonic ritual.

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