Sidney J. Furie – The Boys (1962)

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Four teenage teddy boys are tried in the Old Bailey, charged with the “murder in the course of theft” of a garage night watchman, a conviction for which carries an automatic death penalty. Although initial evidence from the prosecuting counsel seems damning of the youthful gang, their unorthodox defence lawyer’s skilful arguments soon throw the jury into confusion and disarray.
An innovatively flashback-structured courtroom drama from the kitchen-sink era, starring Richard Todd and Robert Morley as the legal eagles who go head to head. This gripping period piece exploits the media controversy that engulfed capital punishment at that time (it was abolished in 1965), and was one of the first British social melodramas to acknowledge the rise of teenage gangs and the juvenile delinquency resulting from them. Continue reading

Sidney J. Furie – The Entity (1981)

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This big budget entry from the early ’80s horror boom is one of the most underrated of that genre. The Entity succeeds despite potentially exploitative subject matter because it tells its story in a serious, respectful style. Frank de Felitta’s script devotes as much time to building three-dimensional characters and detailing the inner workings of psychology and parapsychology as it does creating shocks. As a result, the horrific parts of the tale are more effective because they are couched in a compelling reality. That said, The Entity never feels like anything less than a horror movie, thanks to forceful direction by Sidney J. Furie, who uses moody cinematography from Stephen Burum and an obsessive, minimalist score by Charles Bernstein to create an edgy, off-kilter atmosphere guaranteed to keep the audience tense between the set pieces. Finally, and most importantly, The Entity hooks the viewer thanks to phenomenal performances. Barbara Hershey gives a warm, totally credible performance as a decent, strong woman thrust into a bizarre situation, and Ron Silver adds excellent support as a well-meaning psychologist whose desire to find a rational explanation harms the situation as often as it helps. On the downside, a few of the makeup effects aren’t very convincing (especially when compared with strong physical and visual effects) and the open-ended coda might turn off some viewers, but the overall craftsmanship of the film is too strong to be denied. In short, The Entity is worthy of rediscovery by horror fans who want a little substance with their shocks. — Donald Guarisco (AMG) Continue reading

Sidney J. Furie – The Entity (1982) (DVD)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

This big budget entry from the early ’80s horror boom is one of the most underrated of that genre. The Entity succeeds despite potentially exploitative subject matter because it tells its story in a serious, respectful style. Frank de Felitta’s script devotes as much time to building three-dimensional characters and detailing the inner workings of psychology and parapsychology as it does creating shocks. As a result, the horrific parts of the tale are more effective because they are couched in a compelling reality. That said, The Entity never feels like anything less than a horror movie, thanks to forceful direction by Sidney J. Furie, who uses moody cinematography from Stephen Burum and an obsessive, minimalist score by Charles Bernstein to create an edgy, off-kilter atmosphere guaranteed to keep the audience tense between the set pieces. Finally, and most importantly, The Entity hooks the viewer thanks to phenomenal performances. Barbara Hershey gives a warm, totally credible performance as a decent, strong woman thrust into a bizarre situation, and Ron Silver adds excellent support as a well-meaning psychologist whose desire to find a rational explanation harms the situation as often as it helps. On the downside, a few of the makeup effects aren’t very convincing (especially when compared with strong physical and visual effects) and the open-ended coda might turn off some viewers, but the overall craftsmanship of the film is too strong to be denied. In short, The Entity is worthy of rediscovery by horror fans who want a little substance with their shocks. — Donald Guarisco (AMG) Continue reading