First Love (1970): Maximillian Schell’s Oscar Nominee

Producer-director Maximillian Schell, better known as a performer (he won the 1961 Best Actor Oscar for “Judgment at Nuremberg”), acting as producer and director, adapted the screenplay of “First Love” from a story by the famous Russian writer, Ivan Turgenev.

John Moulder Brown plays Alexander, a teenager around 16 who falls in love withan “older” woman,  Sinaida (the highly photogenic Dominique Sanda, who starred in Bertolucci’s masterpiece “The Conformist”), who’s 21.

The tale depcits the ups and downs and emotional turmoil, made worse the fact that Sinaida was also the lover of Alexander’s father (played by Schell).  Even so, Alexander pursues the relationship, and the rest of the story (which is more compelling on page than on screen). Depcts his sexual and emotional coming-of-age, set against the context of pre-World War II Europe.

The movie is nice to look at due to the great cinematography by Sven Nykvist.

Nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar as a Swiss entry, the film was originally released as “Ein Leibe.”

The international cast includes the great Ialian actress Valentina Cortese (“Day for Night”) as the mother, Marius Goring as Dr. Lushin, and  Dandy Nichols as Princess Zasekina.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Best Foreign Language Film

Oscar Award: None

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Best Foreign Language Oscar was the Italian entry, “Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion.”


Running time: 90 Minutes

Directed by Maximilian Schell.

Released: October 7, 1970.