Scheider passed away Sunday at age 75, after several years of fighting myeloma.
Scheider always will be linked with Steven Spielberg's "Jaws," in which he played a small-town police chief trying to deal with Bruce the killer shark.
The actor fretted that "Jaws" somehow would appear on his tombstone. Today's (online) New York Times headline says "Roy Scheider, Actor in 'Jaws,' Dies at 75." Somebody slap them.
I'll always reach for two other Scheider films: "Sorcerer" and "All That Jazz." Two of my favorite movies, even if they are borderline guilty pleasures.
In "Sorcerer" (1977), the actor was reunited with director William Friendkin ("The French Connection"), who was following "The Exorcist" with a remake of Henri Clouzot's action-thriller "The Wages of Fear." The studio thought the title "Sorcerer" would bring in confused crowds looking for more demons and green vomit. It didn't.
Scheider, in the Yves Montand role, plays the smartest of four fugitives paid to drive unstable nitro across a nightmarish South American landscape. Scheider does some of his best work as the last man standing, defiant and elegant as he staggers toward a sloppy death. Too bad the actor never saw another Bogart-like part like this.
Universal tossed off "Sorcerer" as an indifferent DVD in 1998. Seeing as so many of today's Scheider appreciations feature this underrated film, perhaps we'll finally see a decent DVD edition. The backstory must be great. (Duly noted: "The Wages of Fear" is a classic and by far the better film; Criterion did it justice with a rerelease a few years back.)
Scheider returned two years later in his greatest role: singing, dancing and drugging in Bob Fosse's "All That Jazz" (for which he received an Oscar nomination). Scheider essentially played Fosse during the period he was editing the movie "Lenny" while trying to stage the bowler hat-and-leather musical "Chicago."
"It's showtime, folks!" Scheider/Fosse would declare after a night of sex, drugs and showtunes. No matter what, his long-suffering women (and the audience) end up forgiving the egomaniacal creep behind the devil's beard. Even if he does cheat on Ann Reinking. Lady Death isn't so kind.
Hard to think of Fosse without thinking of Scheider.
Twentieth Century Fox released "All That Jazz" in a "special music edition" last year. There are two hours of special features, including a profile of the late Fosse and an aptly named "Perverting the Standards" featurette. The Oscar-winning editor, Alan Heim, does the commentary track. The razzle-dazzle unspools in widescreen (1.85:1) with 5.1 Dolby Surround. Scheider did commentary for some of the scenes on the previous DVD, in 2003. Neither of these DVDs is considered all that.
Criterion's double-disc "Naked Lunch" (1991) captures a fine late-period Scheider performance, of which there were too few.