In 1968, Charlton Heston, Maximilian Schell, and Leslie Neilsen made a movie called, COUNTERPOINT, in which a 70-piece orchestra and its world famous conductor (Heston) are captured by the Germans in Belgium while on tour for the USO during WWII. The patrol commander has instructions to shoot every prisoner, an order that is countermanded by a music loving general (Schell) who demands the captives give a concert. The stubborn conductor refuses, risking his life and all those in his troupe. Leslie Neilsen played the 1st violin (or concert master) in a completely serious role. I love this photo, which hangs near my piano in our living room, along with other music-related photos. Most folks don’t notice that it’s actually Charlton and Leslie in the picture until they look closely at it. This movie has been a favorite of mine since I was in High School. I loved watching Charlton conduct Beethoven’s 5th, and some of the other classics. The music in the film was spectacular and the story was great, in my opinion. I’m just sorry that it’s still unavailable on DVD or even VHS. Perhaps one day, we will be able to view all of the Heston films on DVD. I’ll be especially happy to see this one when it comes out.
One of the best quotes is when Heston confronts the Officer (Schell): “Now we’re not just a bunch of itinerate fiddlers, do you understand? We’re a highly respected, internationally known symphony orchestra, and if you make the mistake of shooting one of us, you’ll be a lieutenant for the rest of your life, LIEUTENANT!”
We will certainly miss Leslie Neilsen, who graced the stage with so many different characters---especially his role in AIRPLANE! Another of our great actors gone---it makes me feel so old to see these actors disappear…but their films will live on and so will they!