R.I.P. Roy Scheider

I am greatly saddened by the news of the passing of Roy Scheider.

I was about to say that the first time I saw Mr. Scheider was in the police thriller The Seven-Ups, but that’s not quite true. I first saw Roy Scheider in the Mad magazine parody of The French Connection, which was entitled What’s The Connection?

In any case, by the time Jaws came out in 1975 I was looking forward to it almost as much as a Roy Scheider vehicle as a Steven Spielberg movie. I enjoyed his work in Marathon Man, Sorcerer, Still of the Night, Blue Thunder, Naked Lunch, The Punisher and especially, of course, All That Jazz.

Few people probably know about his work as the voice of Japanese author Yukio Mishima in Paul Schrader’s Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. That movie blew me away — I was working at a theater it was playing at when it was released and would watch it several times a day for weeks. When the DVD was released, I was shocked and dismayed to find that Scheider’s precise, measured readings of Mishima’s texts were gone, replaced with voiceovers by Paul Schrader. They’re not the same, and to me the movie is greatly diminished because of the change. I’ve never figured out why that change was made (I have read somewhere that there was a rights issue with the translations used), but it is definitely a loss.

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23 Responses to “R.I.P. Roy Scheider”
  1. gdh says:

    Dammit, that’s the first celebrity death that’s really hit me in a while.

    As great as All That Jazz was, the role I most strongly associate Scheider with is Dr Heywood Floyd in 1984’s 2010: The Year We Make Contact which I must have seen 100 times as a kid. (And to this day I can’t see Helen Mirren without half-expecting her to speak sternly in Russian.)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow — I hadn’t heard about this, so I was a little shocked to refresh the screen and find this waiting for me.

    Jaws is my all-time favorite movie and Scheider is one of the primary reasons. He’s perfectly cast, but it’s the small moments that I love. I’ll always think of him fumbling for paint brushes, half-listening to some local jabber at him about the “cats” on his property, pouring a huge glass of wine, and the way he lets that cigarette dangle from his lips after he sees Bruce for the first time. A damn fine actor. He’ll be missed.

    — Kent M. Beeson

    • Todd says:

      Everyone raves about Robert Shaw’s performance in Jaws, but he’s almost in a different movie from Scheider — a movie where actors put on elaborate accents and ham it up. Whereas Scheider has the harder job and plays his character simply, elegantly and with a great grounded realism.

  3. Anonymous says:

    He was a great actor.

    The first thing I remember seeing him in was SeaQuest, which for those of you who don’t remember, was basically Star Trek underwater. Even on a show with a talking dolphin, Scheider’s greatness could not be diminished.

    The last thing I remember seeing him in (as in last new thing I saw, I just recently re-watched French Connection and Jaws) was an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent where Scheider played a serial killer. He was amazingly chilling in that role.

    • black13 says:

      I watched SeqQuest *only* because of Scheider.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ditto. He gave a largely light show considerable weight (@ least TREK was about something).
        When I heard of Mr Scheider’s unfortunate passing last night, I instantly & instinctively played the final musical number, “Bye, Bye, Life” from “All That Jazz”. For probably the grillionth time I marveled @ his all around ability to render me unable to take my eyes off of an incredible presence.

        I also believe he uttered 1 of the (top 10) greatest lines ever spoken in film.

        • Todd says:

          Would that be “We’re gonna need a bigger boat,” or “It’s showtime, folks!”?

          • Anonymous says:

            (Eureka moment)
            Exactly! While I’m more partial to the former, both would suffice.
            Or even (though, to a lesser degree), “Catcha later!”

  4. greyaenigma says:

    That makes me very sad. I need to watch Jaws again post-haste. (Especially the dinner table scene.) And get hold of a copy of Marathon Man. I’ve been meaning to re-watch that for years. Holy cow — that was Helen Mirren in 2010

    Sorceror failed to live up to the hype, sadly, because the hype was my friend ranting for weeks about how it was the best movie ever.

    Maybe I should get Blue Thunder and re-watch that, just to be safe.

    Rest in peace, Roy.

    • Todd says:

      I enjoyed Sorcerer a lot when it first came out, although I had not seen Wages of Fear at that point. I’m not sure how it holds up these days.

  5. 55seddel says:

    Friend told me.

    He gave his all!

  6. teamwak says:

    Sad news indeed!

    I, of course, was brought up with Jaws, but 2010 is a personal favourite movie of mine, with a cast to die for! (in my humble opinion).

    The scene where the spaceship is decelerating at a tremendous rate, and he and a Russian female crew memeber are hugging each other for dear is quite amazing!

    I wonder what your views of 2010 are, Todd? For some people to even mention it in the same breathe as 2001 is heresy, but I LOVE the film and think it has a powerful message, and some really cool special effects!

    “All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landings there! Use them together in peace!

    • Todd says:

      While I wouldn’t say that mentioning 2010 in the same breath as 2001 is “heresy,” per se, I will say that they are extremely different movies and if one sits down to watch the former with the expectation of a cinematic experience anything remotely like the latter, one will be profoundly disappointed.

      Still, major huevos on the whole team of people for taking on the job of making a movie in the shadow of such a monument.

      • gdh says:

        I find in interesting how a Science Fiction film that’s had its predictions proven so conclusively wrong in so many ways (it’s 2008 and we’re not in space yet, computer graphics are light years ahead of the predictions, computer AI is light years behind, and who would have thought that the cold war would end? ) still manages to stand up so well.

  7. catwalk says:

    blue thunder.

    even now, i find myself trying to time out 60 seconds without looking at the clock. i still picture scheider with his eyes closed, the seconds on his digital watch ticking off, and he opens one eye…

  8. craigjclark says:

    I thought I read somewhere that Criterion was putting out a special edition of Mishima. If so, maybe they’ll be able to restore the original voiceover.