Maximilian Schell


  1. Van Heflin, Sotto dieci bandiere (UK/US: Under Ten Flags, Italy-US,1959.     Change of Captain Reger, commanding and continually disguising his German surface raider vessel, Atlantis, for 665 days  while sinking 22 ships (treating all captives humanely), until the surface raider  was finally blown out of  the water by (Charles Laughton’s) Royal Navy November 21, 1941. Reger (actually, Rogge) later became  a NATO Commander in the Territorial Allied Naval Forces.
  2. Richard Burton, Becket, 1963.    Finchey and Albie joined the  Henry II mix with Laurence Harvey, Christopher Plummer, Maximilian Schell, when Burton showed scant interest in sharing the billing with the new firebrand, Peter O’Toole. Why, held even studied the play in Paris with the playwright, Jean  Anouilh. Burton had  his mind changed for him by Elizabeth Taylor, and a bromance was born. “Nobody could play Becket like he did – as a sort of sacred coal-miner,” said O’Toole. They both won Oscar nods. But the award went to the Rex Harrison  that nobody wanted for My Fair Lady.  Laurence Olivier and Anthony Quinn played the roles on Broadway; Eric Porter and Christopher Plummer in London.
  3. Clint Eastwood, Per un pugno di dollari/For A Fistful of Dollars, Italy-Germany-Spain, 1964.       Early choices for Italian director Sergio Leone’s as The Man With No Name – included James Coburn, Henry Fonda and apparently, Schell… although this is disbelieved in some German quarters as “a really far-out idea.” 
  4. Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music, 1964.    Shooting started on my birthday, March 26.   Although everyone thought it too saccharine to bother with. Certainly, Germany’s Oskar Werner refused to have anything to do with such a soft  treatment of Nazis was way too soft – a match for The Young Lions! “Yul Brynner was one of several people wanting to be The  Captain,” recalled director Robert Wise.  “I told  his agent his  name  would  be at the bottom of my list. He’d have been better on the other side!” Driven to drink by it all, Plummer hated everything. The film  – he called it S&M or The Sound of Mucus.  The co-star –  working with  Julie Andrews  (or Ms Disney as he called her)  – was akin to “being hit over the head with a big Valentine’s Day card, every day.”   So maybe Brynner, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Bing Crosby, Peter Finch, Rex Harrison, Walter Matthau (!) and Maximilian Schell were lucky to lose Captain Georg Von Trapp. Keith Michel was first reserve if Plummer proved (as he soon wished) unavailable. Despite all his badmouthing, Plummer and Andrews became good friends.  Critic Pauline Kael famously tried to bury “the sugar-coated lie that people seem to want to eat” but it  saved Fox from the near bankruptcy  of the Cleopatra debacle.
  5. Oskar Werner, Ship of Fools, 1964.  Among the packed 12-star passenger manifest, producer-director Stanley Kramer found room for two of his Judgment at Nuremberg stars three years before. However, neither Schell, nor Marlene Dietrich, proved available  for Dr Schumann or La Condesa.
  6. Dirk Bogarde, Darling, 1965.      Fell out when the film was being hit by a legal threat by a woman who insisted “the script is based on me.”
  7. Maurice Ronet, Lost Command, 1966.      US director Mark Robson did not seem to think there was anything untoward about offering a French Army captain… to a German.
  8. Gene Barry, Maroc 7, 1966.         First choice of British actor-producer Leslie Phillips.
  9. Fabrice Luchini, Lancelot de lac (US: Lancelot of the Lake),France-Italy, 1974.    Part of realisateur Robert Bresson’s plan for his scenario in 1965.
  10. Gert Fröbe, Bloodline, 1979.         Max had disappeared into Disney’s Black Hole.

  11. Rod Steiger, The Chosen, 1981.     The UN debates the Palestine partition. And two Orthodox Jewish pals in Chaim Potok’s best-seller suffer their fathers.  An immigrant Rabbi and Tzaddic (a messenger from God) and a college professorand Zionistactivist. Director Jeremy Kagan gave the roles to Schell and Steiger. And Schell agreed when Steiger asked to swop roles!
  12. Frank Finlay, Lifeforce, 1984.  
  13. Timothy Dalton, The Doctor and The Devils, 1985.     Michael Redgrave and director Fritz Lang had no luck with the Dylan Thomas project in 1948. Nor Hollywood helmer  Nicholas Ray – not even when dropping James Mason for Schell. Nor indeed, Laurence Harvey in 1965. The sole scenario of Swansea’s self-styled “Rimbaud of Cymdonkin Drive” remained unmade for the next 37 years  – a record delay between the completion and shooting of a script.
  14. Derek Jacobi, Dead Again, 1990.        Schell and Donald Sutherland were early selections for the stuttering antiques dealer-cum-hypnotist Franklyn Madson. Jacobi, of course, was the definitive stutterer – as the Roman emperor in I, Claudius, TV, 1976. The film still had as German star Hanna Schygulla was Madson’s (or Mad-son’s) mother…a kind of Frau Danvers.




 Birth year: 1930Death year: 2014Other name: Casting Calls:  14