It shouldn’t be hard to imagine that if you’re a kid seeing the movie Jaws as I did on the big screen in 1975 or maybe a rerelease in ’76 or perhaps even on a network television debut that you’d agree with me in stating that “Roy Scheider was the coolest man on planet Earth” at the point in time. Such is the power of movies.

So with Jaws being one of two films I always refer to as my all time favorites it should come as no surprise that I became a life long fan of the actor who played Chief Brody. He not only braved his fear of the ocean and Robert Shaw’s crazed Capt. Quint but he heroically faced off with the Great White Shark in the final moments of Spielberg’s classic.

Later in his career Roy seemed to get special billing “and Roy Scheider” as movie credits rolled to a conclusion in plenty of titles that worked there way into the straight to video era of the 90’s and early 2000’s before the actor’s death in 2008. Did you know he played the President of the United States three times in quick succession in those later years making him a three term man? Let’s have a look at these action themed trio of titles.

*** Presidential Term #1 : Executive Target (1997) Madacy DVD.

Roy kicks off this film making a Presidential speech in which he amusingly points out, ” Star Wars belongs in the movies and it should be financed by Hollywood not Washington and the American People.” Yes Roy is a people’s President who has made some wealthy enemies during his is time in office. More on that later.

Michael Madsen (aka Mr. Blonde) takes the lead in this Joseph Merli directed actioner. While being transported on a prison bus, Madsen, is sprung in a fiery shootout which leaves multiple police officers and mercenaries for hire dead on the streets of D.C. The breakout morphs into a high speed chase where we’ll see just why Madsen is being sprung. He’s a former stunt driver for the movies who wound up in prison on a questionable offence and his racing skills are in need.

It’s sexy Angie Everhart leading the mercenaries who catches up with Madsen and using his kidnapped wife as leverage takes him in to meet the mastermind behind his escape and a would be Bond villain played by the always entertaining Keith David.

Let’s make a long story short. David plans on hijacking a Presidential convoy and use Madsen’s driving skills to whisk Roy the President away so that he can be held for a major ransom. Or sold off to his enemies who want him dead. Madsen is in over his head and trying to find a way to keep his wife alive AND do the right thing with President Scheider. After all, he did vote for him and he’s no traitor to his country.

Watching all these high speed chases one might have thought that Blues Brothers’ director John Landis helmed this one when you consider how many police cars on crashed on camera. Paging Jake and Elwood!

We all know this isn’t going to end well for David so it’s just a matter of how Madsen is going to save the day and get his lady back. Miraculously he even has Roy’s blessing in the final shootout and the Prez is in his corner as far as his prison sentence is concerned. Yeah it’s all a bunch of foolishness but it does entertain and isn’t that the whole point of the exercise in the first place?

Now it’s back to the Oval Office so Roy can get on with his ….

*** Presidential Term #2 : The Peacekeeper (1997) Image Entertainment DVD

This action packed effort hits the ground running with Dolph Lundgren’s heroic flyboy being assigned to President Scheider’s personal staff. Roy gets to meet his new giant sized Secret Service agent while delivering a speech to Desert Storm veterans at a Chicago gathering.

Dolph’s job is simple. Be within reach of Scheider if needed. Strapped to his wrist is a metal briefcase. Within it? A computer that serves as a launch pad for government held nukes. Just in case Roy ever needs to launch them and the world into WW3.

While Roy is sampling a lady of the night under guard at a swank hotel, Dolph is under attack in an adjoining room from a group of terrorists. End result? This film is quickly heading to Die Hard territory. Dolph loses the suitcase. Survives what looks to be a ten story fall. Manages to evade his assassins in a high speed chase atop the roofs of city buildings. (No fooling) He’ll ultimately overtake one of the assassins and take his place on a helicopter ride.

Destination? A launch silo under the command of Montel Williams that has been overtaken by the lead terrorist, Michael Sarrazin, long removed from the young boyish looking men he played in the late 60’s and early 70’s. While Dolph will quickly go John McClane running amok in the underground missile compound and finding an ally in Mr. Williams, it’s Sarrazin who gets to chew the scenery by bringing President Scheider to his knees.

It’s at this point the film began to remind me of the underrated Robert Aldrich thriller, Twilight’s Last Gleaming.

Cutting to the chase, Sarrazing launches a nuke which lands atop Mt. Rushmore serving to let Scheider know he means business. Part of his demands are for Roy to go live on TV to admit his past transgressions against an operation Sarrazin led and furthermore to prove he’s willing to give his life for his country. Sarrazin has launched another nuke and it’s headed right for D.C. All Roy needs to do to stop it is take his own life on live TV. If he can do that then Sarrazin will disarm the nuke and surrender himself to the authorities. Maybe.

Nothing is that easy and thankfully we have Dolph and Montel lurking in the shadows and crawling their way through ventilation shafts as they seek to put a stop to the crazed Sarrazin and take out his army of mercenaries.

Another fine example of the made for cable and straight to video action flick with Dolph who by this time was a veteran of the genre.

Now let’s get Roy back to the Oval Office once again for ….

*** Presidential Term #3 : Chain of Command (2000) VHS Copy.

Finally top billing and plenty of screen time for the man who knows how to say “Smile you son of a bitch.”

Borrowing the plot point of the suitcase that can arm the nukes, Scheider, plays a newly elected President with a penchant for women on the side and making enemies fast. Instead of The Mighty Dolph handling the suitcase this time it’s a cooperative team with one man figuring to be the John McClane of our story, Patrick Muldoon.

Due to political stress and the House looking into his campaign funds, Scheider is off to rendezvous with the leader of Taiwan, played by the always recognizable Ric Young. Admittedly I had to look up his name as he’s one of those faces I’ve known for years but not his handle. The meeting takes place on a full sized yet abandoned cruise ship. The only people on it are Scheider and his team of secret service agents and Young with his own team led by gun for hire, Michael Biehn.

Scheider has found himself right in the middle of a spider’s web. After all, Biehn, has played plenty of bad guys and Young to my knowledge has done nothing but. Time for Biehn’s crew of professional mercenaries to take out the secret service. It’s also time for Muldoon to turn into Bruce Willis or maybe Steven Seagal is a better match since we’re on a ship ala Under Siege.

There are some high pressure moments coming at us when Young verbally spars with Scheider over his plans. He intends to launch a U.S. nuke into the heart of China triggering WW3 if necessary. As long as he moves over to China to take control of the Country and possibly the world.

There are some really solid action sequences in this one even if the laws of probability are stretched beyond believability. With Roy officially off the grid as far as U.S. Intelligence is concerned it’s time to bring in the Vice Prez to take over and I must say that one of the film’s highlights is seeing Maria Conchita Alonso assume the role playing tough from a military installation fencing with both her lead General, John Beck and the ruler of China over the firing of nukes and doomsday upon them. She’s getting my vote if she decides to run for the top job.

I’ve no idea as to the reason why but John Beck who has been making movies since the late 1960’s with stops in films like Rollerball (1975) and TV shows like Hart to Hart goes unbilled despite a fair sized role. Anyone have an insiders knowledge as to why an actor sometimes does this or perhaps accepts this?

As for Roy? It’s a finale with some punch when the four main figures collide. Can Muldoon take out the heavies, Young and Biehn?

Can he save the President? Can Roy somehow stop the nukes in mid flight before they launch us all into the world of Mad Max?

I’ll leave it up to you to find out but will say that despite it’s flaws I kind of liked Roy’s third term in office the best overall.

While Roy never played the President again during the final years of his career he continued staying busy. He appeared as a Cardinal, a Governor, a Professor, an Agent, a Colonel and a Mayor among other titles. No matter the title or position of his character I’ve always enjoyed seeing Roy on screen but when he’s suited up to play Chief Brody in the town of Amityville, there’s nothing better to be found on screen.