Sunday, February 10, 2008
Roy Scheider, R.I.P.
Dammit, one of my favorite actors died today. I've seen just about every major film Roy Scheider was ever in, and he was in some of the greatest Hollywood films of the 1970s. JAWS, THE FRENCH CONNECTION, THE SEVEN-UPS, ALL THAT JAZZ, SORCERER, LAST EMBRACE, KLUTE, MARATHON MAN. THE FRENCH CONNECTION and ALL THAT JAZZ earned Scheider Academy Award nominations.
Although STILL OF THE NIGHT, BLUE THUNDER and 2010 continued Scheider's string of solid leading-man roles, he somehow fell off the tracks during the mid-1980s, and finished the decade in Cannon potboilers (the entertainingly sleazy 52 PICK-UP) and barely released thrillers (COHEN & TATE, NIGHT GAME, THE FOURTH WAR).
After his contentious two-season run as the star of NBC's SEAQUEST DSV, a series Scheider publicly derided for its poor scripting, he became busier than ever as a respectable and dignified supporting actor in major studio films (THE RAINMAKER), low-budget direct-to-video features, and television movies and series. You'd be hard-pressed to wander through a video store and not find something bearing his name on every shelf.
According to his New York Times obit, Scheider was 75 and in poor health. I saw him on a LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT last year as a convicted serial killer, and he seemed healthy and sharp as a tack. As I mentioned above, I've seen just about every major film he ever did, except ALL THAT JAZZ oddly, but let me also recommend:
* SOMEBODY HAS TO SHOOT THE PICTURE, an HBO movie that's one of the most powerful anti-death penalty dramas I've seen (Frank Pierson directed it)
* Jonathan Demme's Hitchcockian LAST EMBRACE, which insanely isn't on DVD yet
* the obscure TV pilot ASSIGNMENT: MUNICH, in which he lost the role in the TV series to Robert Conrad
* THE FOURTH WAR, a competent reunion with director John Frankenheimer, for whom he made 52 PICK-UP
Only SOMEBODY HAS TO SHOOT THE PICTURE was ever on DVD, and it's long out of print.
Something else interesting about Scheider: I believe he may be the only actor to portray three different Presidents of the United States. He did it in EXECUTIVE TARGET, CHAIN OF COMMAND and THE PEACEKEEPER.
Click here to check out Netflix's collection of Roy Scheider movies on DVD. I guarantee you'll find one (or ten) you'll like.