Maximilian Schell, unforgettable as the volcanic attorney defending Nazi war criminals in the film "Judgment at Nuremberg," is returning to that material -- albeit on the other side of the barbed wire fence. In Abby Mann's stage adaptation of his screenplay, to be mounted on Broadway late this year or early next by National Actors Theatre, Schell will play one of the accused (the role played by Burt Lancaster in the movie), a calm, intelligent man who should have known better than to just follow orders.
An N.A.T. office spokesperson confirmed Schell's casting, which had been floated in the trade publication Theatrical Index for several weeks and then reported in Variety (Aug. 31). Variety mentioned that Schell is currently recovering in a Munich hospital after collapsing at the Latvian Film Festival, but he won't require surgery and will apparently be well enough to star in Nuremberg.
The N.A.T. spokesperson noted that more information about the show, to be directed by John Tillinger, would be expected in two-to-three weeks. For now, no specific dates or even theatre have been announced, and no there's no further word on casting. Mann is apparently still working on revisions to the script.
Judgment at Nuremberg began life at a television production. It was subsequently made into a film starring Spencer Tracy, Montgomery Clift, Lancaster, Judy Garland, Schell and Marlene Dietrich. The NAT commissioned Mann to adapt his own script for the stage. (The play has no connection, by the way, to another television piece: "Nuremberg," a four hour docudrama by David W. Rintels, which premiered July 16 on Turner Network Television.)
Judgment will mark the NAT's first venture since Night Must Fall, which closed on Broadway in spring 1999. Since its first two seasons, in the early '90s, the NAT has operated in a more casual manner, presenting a play whenever the needed elements and talent were brought together. Past productions have included The Gin Game and Inherit the Wind. Tillinger, whose most recent credit was the short-lived Suite in Two Keys Off Broadway, has almost become the house director for the NAT. For the company, he has mounted Inherit the Wind, Night Must Fall, The Sunshine Boys and Three Men on a Horse.