Roy Scheider died yesterday and I am sad.
Most folks think of JAWS when they think of Roy Scheider. And while he had memorable turns in such films as THE FRENCH CONNECTION, THE MARATHON MAN, and ALL THAT JAZZ, two other films are the ones for which I will remember him. They are BLUE THUNDER and 2010.
In 1983, Blue Thunder was the coolest damned thing. Laughable by today's standards, but back in the day it had some sweet helicopter dog fights. A film about an armored military helicopter ostensibly tasked for urban assault in far away lands, but actually intended to be employed right here on American soil against law abiding citizens. LAPD chopper pilot Frank Murphy, Scheider's character, is the conscience of the story. He identifies what the government is up to and takes matters into his own hands. Murphy is a flawed hero, still tormented by his tenure in Viet Nam. He overcomes his limitations though... to do the right thing.
In his role as Dr. Heywood Floyd in Peter Hyams' 2010: The Year We Make Contact, the vastly under rated sequel to Kubrik's 2001: A Space Odyssey, Scheider shined. His Dr. Floyd is a thinking man's hero. He questions. He fears. He is open to new ideas. And he faces his fears, risking all to learn the truth. I love this movie. I actually prefer it to the high art of Kubrik's film. I cherish it for the very accessible performance of Mr. Scheider.
I never get tired of watching either of these two movies. That's a testament to Mr. Scheider. It occurs to me that I do not own Blue Thunder on DVD. Must remedy that oversight.
2010 is in my DVD player right now.
"I'll be scared enough for both of us."
- Dr. Heywood Floyd