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May 12, 2007

Roy Scheider Day: The Russia House

roy scheider.jpg

Fred Schepisi - 1990
MGM Region 1 DVD

Above is a screengrab of Roy Scheider literally phoning it in, in The Russia House. I had read about James Wolcott's declaration of Roy Scheider Day, this coming Monday. I do have All that Jazz, but my DVD is in storage. There wasn't much to choose from at the Miami-Dade Public Library system, and I wasn't about to go buy any more DVDs for now. Having found out that my one job that paid me pocket change to write about films was ending, I have to be more frugal. I also justified getting The Russia House because I hadn't seen the ending of the movie. I was at a preview screening, and with about ten minutes more to go, the house lights went up, attributed to some technical glitch in the theater.

In spite of being third billed after Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer, Scheider doesn't do much. As a C.I.A. officer, Scheider is never seen outside his office, either talking in person or the phone to operatives. Watching the film again, I wondered what had happened to the guy who starred in the biggest movie in the world fifteen years previously, and was one of the top stars of the Seventies. Maybe Scheider mouthed off to the wrong person, but his career took a steep dive after the box office failure of 2010. Whatever happened, there is still the legacy of films Roy Scheider starred in from The French Connection through All That Jazz, a span covering almost exactly the last extended period of consistent creativity from mainstream Hollywood.

Posted by peter at May 12, 2007 04:49 PM


I really like Scheider and he's been in some great movies. It's funny, but when I caught a commercial for his appearence on Law & Order during The Office I wondered out loud what had happened to his acting career. I can remember him being a huge star when I was a kid, but he seemed to dissapear in the 90s. The last movie I can remember seeing him in was Cronenberg's Naked Lunch which was about 15 years ago.

Posted by: Kimberly at May 12, 2007 11:29 PM

The number of good films Sheider was in since playing William Burrough's Dr. Benway in 1991 can be counted on with one hand. I probably should have taken advantage of re-seeing The Rainmaker which was on a couple of nights ago.

Posted by: Peter Nellhaus at May 13, 2007 06:57 AM

i always liked Scheider in THE RUSSIA HOUSE, especially when he knows he's lost and says, "Honor is due. Honor is due."

Posted by: the shamus at May 13, 2007 04:03 PM