Austrian-born actress Romy Schneider went from playing Bavarian princesses in frothy historical dramas to working with some of the most influential and daring European filmmakers of her era during the 1960s and 1970s. I’ve always wondered were this picture of hers came from. Turns out it comes from the one film with three names: Das Mädchen und der Kommissar, Max et les Ferrailleurs, and Max and the Junkmen. A great film. Max is a Paris detective, aloof, independently wealthy, and frustrated by gangs of robbers whom he cannot catch. To re-establish his stature and save face, he decides to inveigle a group of petty thieves (led by an old acquaintance) to rob a bank. A reluctant captain provides Max intelligence and Max starts spending evenings with Lilly, a prostitute who’s the girlfriend of the group’s leader. He poses as a rich banker with money to burn and encourages Lilly to think about her future. He hints at a payroll that comes through his bank. The plot works, the petty thieves think they’re ready for a big score, and the cops are in place. What could go wrong with Max’s cold plan? Who’s entrapped?
Born on September 23, 1938, in Vienna, Austria, Romy Schneider began her own career at age 15.
Mädchenjahre einer Königen was written and directed by veteran Austrian filmmaker Ernst Marischka, and its success led to Schneider being cast in 1955’s Sissi, the first in a trilogy of films about Elisabeth, the wife of Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef. The film was a huge success in West Germany and Austria at the time and was quickly followed by two sequels that chronicled the beloved princess’s 1854 wedding and subsequently tragic personal life.
She was cast in a 1958 movie Christine, about romantic intrigues at the 1906 Viennese court, which co-starred her with Alain Delon, one of France’s top leading men at the time. The pair fell in love, and upon their engagement Schneider left Germany and settled in Paris with him. The German tabloid press was outraged, as were the studios, directors, and producers who depended on her box-office allure. Despite her fame, she later recalled in an interview with the magazine Life, she instead felt like “an orange that must be pressed to the last drop. Nobody ever thought of me, or ever asked me to shout or be a real human being. People thought, ‘How sweet, how lovely, how kind she is!’ I wanted to be modern and hard, to be a grown-up woman. I had to run away.”
Settling in France in the 1960s, Romy became one of that country’s most respected actresses, winning Cesar awards for her performances in L’Important C’est d’Aimer (1975) and L’Histoire Simple (1978).
In her last years, she was beset by several personal tragedies, including the accidental death of her 14-year-old son. She was on the road to emotional and professional recovery when, in May of 1982, Romy Schneider was found dead in her Paris apartment; the official cause of death was heart failure, though many believe that she committed suicide.