Rehearsals of Marathon Man in New York. Dustin Hoffman and Roy Scheider are about to rehearse their first scene together. Hoffman has the vehicle role and is the more important of the two, but Scheider, coming off the lead in Jaws, is not chopped liver.
In the story, they play brothers. Hoffman is a graduate student. Scheider, whom he adores and thinks is in the oil business, actually works for the government as a killer and a spy.
Hoffman has just been brutally mugged in the park. He has written this to Scheider. Scheider suspects it was not an accident--bad guys are trying to get at him by threatening his kid brother. So he comes down from Washington to visit.
It's night, and Hoffman is asleep. Suddenly, he realizes he's not alone in his apartment, so he grabs a flashlight from his bed table and points it around the room, trying to catch the intruder. As he does this, he has a line of dialog:Hoffman:(very James Cagney)I got a gun, you make a move, I'll blow your ass to Shanghai.
Okay, rehearsal. A mock set is prepared. Hoffman lies down, closes his eyes. Scheider mimes opening a door, bangs his foot down to indicate the closing of the door, and Hoffman springs awake, mimes getting the flashlight, and says his Shanghai line.
Then rehearsals stop.
Hoffman says to hold it and he turns to the director, John Schlesinger, and tells him that he thinks it is wrong for his character to have a flashlight in his bed table.
Schlesinger tells him we'll get to it later, let's continue rehearsing the scene, please.
Hoffman shakes his head...
A lot of people have flashlights by their bed tables, Schlesinger tries.
Hoffman isn't playing a lot of people, he is playing Babe and Babe wouldn't have a flashlight by his bed table.
Schlesinger makes another attempt: You've just been mugged, you're upset, you're taking precautions.
Through all this, silent and waiting, stands Scheider.
And that is probably my strongest memory of the situation--it took an hour, by the way--Scheider, waiting quietly, a perfect gentleman through it all.
--William Goldman, Adventures in the Screen Trade
The Siren mourns the passing of perfect gentleman and great actor Roy Scheider. She will treasure his performances as long as she is able to prop herself up in front of a screen, including Marathon Man, The French Connection and the unavoidable, permanent classic Jaws. But her favorite Scheider role will always be Joe Gideon in All That Jazz, the greatest movie musical of the past 30 years.
Edward Copeland has a tribute up. So does Greencine Daily, with accompanying links. Some time ago Bob Westal had a fabulous Bob Fosse blogathon in which he discussed All That Jazz at some length; Bob now has an appreciation up, with a great clip. Nathaniel R also went into great detail on Scheider's fine performance. Kim Morgan also has a tribute post on Scheider, written with her trademark verve and passion. Siren faves Ivan at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear and the Cinephile also have memorials up. And, via the fabulous Sheila, an incredible series of Roy Scheider-themed posters from the 1970s at Harry Moseby Confidential. Finally, a wonderful personal reminiscence by LowerManhattanite at the Group News Blog. And check the comments for another charming story, from Gerald Howard. And one more, the most thorough of all, from Ferdy on Films.