Takaisin

FAREWELL TO SCHELL AND HOFFMAN

   

   Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Capote"; Maximillian Schell in "Nuremberg."

For Hicksflicks.com, Feb. 7, 2014

You've no doubt seen several stories about the tragic death of 46-year-old Philip Seymour Hoffman, referred to by a number of commentators as the greatest actor of his generation.

I don't know if that's true, or if such a thing can even be measured, but he was obviously talented and delivered some fine film performances, winning an Oscar for playing Truman Capote in the 2005 film "Capote."

His death at such a young age and the circumstances surrounding it have kept his name in the news, and with four films yet to be released (including one that just played at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as the last two "Hunger Games" pictures), he'll remain on the celebrity radar for awhile.

But I must admit to being a bit saddened that the death of Maximilian Schell the day before was barely acknowledged.

This is not to play down Hoffman's death, of course, but Schell was also an Oscar-winner (best actor for 1961's "Judgment at Nuremberg"), as well as a writer, director and producer, and when he died at the age of 83, he was still making movies. (His last appearance will be in a French film still in post-production.)

Born in Vienna, Austria, and raised in Switzerland, Schell went to the University of Munich after World War II, then served in the Swiss Army before attending two universities in Switzerland. It was during this period that he began acting on the stage.

After appearing in some German films, his ability to speak both German and English landed him a role in his first Hollywood movie, "The Young Lions" (1958) opposite Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift and Dean Martin. In 1959 he was in an American TV production of "Judgment at Nuremberg," which led to his playing the same role in the film, part of a huge all-star cast led by Spencer Tracy.

Among Schell's other U.S. films are "The Odessa File" (1974), "The Man in the Glass Booth" (1975), "A Bridge Too Far" (1977), "Julia" (1977) and "The Chosen" (1981). He was also in the caper comedy "Topkapi" (1964), the Disney sci-fi flick "The Black Hole" (1979), the Marlon Brando-Matthew Broderick comedy "The Freshman" (1990), "Deep Impact" (1998) and many more.

As an independent filmmaker, Schell churned out several documentaries, including one about his sister Maria Schell, who was also an acclaimed actor.