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People like to say that bad things come in threes. [View All]

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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-04-14 05:08 AM
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People like to say that bad things come in threes.
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If you are talking about your own immediate family, maybe talking in those terms makes some sense, whether the underlying superstitution is true or not. Otherwise, it's just incredibly silly and self-centered to assume that we know all the bad things that are happening all around the globe. Only that would allow us to say that only 3 bad things did or did not happen during any specific unit of time. Then again, probably no one observant and sane at the same time ever claimed that we humans are not incredibly silly and self centered.

All of which is to say that we lost three celebrities recently, two of whom overshadowed the third, namely: Seeger, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Maximillian Schell. Pete Seeger was an icon. Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of this era's very best and most versatile actors, who died before he could become an icon, except that I think he was already an icon among his fellow actors, unless they were too small to acknowledge that.

During the last day or so, many of Hoffman's fellow actors mentioned how they had praised him privately, in emails or letters to him or in conversation with him. Others mention having meant to do so when they met him for the first time, but regretted that he died before they met. (Will we ever learn that we do not have forever to tell even a relatively young person what they mean us, before they may die suddenly?)

Maximillian Schell, though? I don't know. He died quietly at age 83, after having remarried only in 2013 (please, no jokes). I know only that I saw him in a couple of couple of old movies, and remember him mainly for his having been in Judgment at Nuremberg. Nazi defense attorney, no less.

In the movie, Schell reprised the role he had played in a Playhouse 90 presentation of Judgment at Nuremberberg. WW II ended (for the USA and Japan) in September 1945. The trials ended a year later. I don't know when filming of the the Playhouse 90 version began, but it aired in 1959. I imagine it may have taken some professional and personal courage in 1959 for a German-speaking native of Austria to portray the defense that soon, but I don't really know. IOW, sheer speculation.

I have to pause here to credit the casting for not bowing to the temptation to cast only physically repulsive people as the Nazis, something that struck me as done almost to slapstick degree in V for Vendetta. For me, that smacked of heavy handed amateur hour. Hell, even Biblical writers knew better, specifying how physically beautiful Satan is.

AFAIK, Schell did not spend most of his adult life trying hard to change the world, as did Pete Seeger. Schell was not taken dramatically and decades too soon, like PSH. But, IMO, Judgment at Nuremberg was a hell of a movie that I do believe did try to change the world (while trying to make money, of course).

Some of the performances were excellent, notably, I thought, Burt Lancaster's, which was less melodramatic than some of the other actors. (Acting styles, like so many things, change and evolve over time; and I believe Lancaster's interpretation was ahead of its time. If we look at a continuum of silent movies to the present, we can see that acting even in silent movies, was much more exaggerated than it needed to be, which is why they make us laugh today. In hindisght, I think Lancaster was highly underrated as an actor, maybe precisely because his style was ahead of his time. But, I digress. (Don't I always?)

I hope that Schell's death causes some TV network to re-air the movie. For one thing, I've forgotten most of it, except for the ending, but I can solve that via Netflix. More importantly, I think we, as a nation, have forgotten some of the lessons of the movie, so a network airing could be a very good thing.
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