To err is human. To forgive, divine.
Maximilian Schell, the Austrian born/Swiss actor died at 83 in Innsbruck, Austria on Feb. 1.
Joe knew him decades ago, and had interviewed him for a major story. In the piece Joe stated that Schell had won an Academy Award several years earlier for Best Supporting Actor in 1961’s Judgement at Nuremburg.
When Joe ran into Schell the morning after the article appeared the actor was furious with him. He had won the BEST ACTOR Oscar he quickly pointed out.
Joe hadn’t caught the mistake, but then his editors hadn’t either. There was no use apologizing. Schell was inconsolable.
Joe’s thought about it for years. Why the mistake? Perhaps because even then everyone thought of Maximilian Schell — despite his imposing looks — as a character actor, not a leading man.
In the early Sixties, Schell had starred opposite Marlon Brando in 1958’s The Young Lions. He was determined to get out of the shadow of his then more famous sister, actress Maria Schell (pictured with her brother below), who died in 2005.
Later in life, Schell turned director, receiving Oscar-nominations in the process.
One was for 1984’s Marlene, a documentary “reconstruction” of Dietrich’s life and career. The film is interesting in that it includes audio of the great diva — then an early Eighties recluse holed up in her Paris flat — but no video. That is, Dietrich had determined that no one should photograph her. Despite Schell’s heartfelt and repeated importuning through the firmly closed front door of her apartment (all shown in Marlene), she stuck to her guns.
For those who prefer a more mellow Schell — who could in his younger years outshout the best of them — try Henry Jaglom’s whimsical inside look at France’s biggest annual movie get together, 2001’s Festival in Cannes. The movie features a polyglot cast including the late Ron Silver and French actress Anouk Aimee. Schell is amusing as Aimee’s world-weary, seen-it-all ex-husband giving advice on how to navigate the treacherous waters of the international film business.
Back to where we started: even though far more famous stars appeared with him in Stanley Kramer’s film, Judgement at Nuremberg — Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift — it was Schell who had snared the Oscar.
And Joe (and the editors) had stupidly forgotten.