The things you find on Youtube! Yesterday my wife and I watched the film Counterpoint (1968), one of the more off beat, I couldn’t resist, of the many World War II flicks made in the Sixties. Charlton Heston is the head of an orchestra making a USO tour, captured during the Battle of the Bulge. Maximilian Schell, who made a good living playing Nazis although he was from a family of refugees from the Third Reich, plays a German General obsessed with having the orchestra perform, before shooting them, as he is under orders to shoot all prisoners. Leslie Neilsen plays the assistant conduct giving a subdued, almost somnabulant, performance. This was years before he made his comedic turn, and one can almost hear him thinking: I used to be a leading man. Now I’m reduced to playing second banana to Chuck Heston. I’ve got to make a change!
I hadn’t seen the film since the early seventies. It was notable in my life since it was one of the first times I heard classical music outside of Bugs Bunny cartoons, my parents not being fond of “long-hair” music as they called classical music. Maximilian Schell plays his role as more than half insane, as Heston chews up every scene he is in. It is not necessarily a good film, but it is a memorable one. It also harkens back to a time when most actors had either served in World War II or at last lived through it, a time which is now long passed. More’s the pity. Go here to see it before it is pulled down.