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Sidney J. Furie

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Sidney J. Furie
Born (1933-02-28) February 28, 1933 (age 91)
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter, film producer
Years active1959–present
Known for

Sidney Joseph Furie (born February 28, 1933)[1] is a Canadian film director, screenwriter, and producer best known for his extensive work in both British and American cinema between the 1960s and early 1980s. Like his contemporaries Norman Jewison and Ted Kotcheff, he was one of the earliest Canadian directors to achieve mainstream critical and financial success outside their native country at a time when its film industry was virtually nonexistent.[2][3] He won a BAFTA Film Award and was nominated for a Palme d'Or for his work on the acclaimed spy thriller The Ipcress File (1965) starring Michael Caine.

He is considered by some an auteur director, elevating otherwise unremarkable genre films through strong, creative visuals, and atmospheric direction.[4][5] His horror film The Entity (1982) was declared by director Martin Scorsese as one of the scariest movies of all time,[6] and his Vietnam War film The Boys in Company C (1978) was a major influence on Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket (1987).[7] He is also the co-creator of the Iron Eagle[8] action film franchise which began in 1986, and directed three of its four entries.

Early life[edit]

Furie was born as Sholom Joseph Furie[9] to a Jewish family[10] in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1933. He attended Vaughan Road Collegiate[11] and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Furie worked as a writer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, where, in 1957, he wrote and directed a feature-length drama, A Dangerous Age. A dark variation on the Romeo and Juliet story, it starred Ben Piazza and Anne Pearson as teenage lovers on the run from the authorities, unable to legally elope and get married. A cash-in on the trend of "juvenile delinquent" films, it was nonetheless something of a landmark in Canadian cinema, one of the first times the country had seriously marketed a film overseas.[12] Despite the support of popular producer and distributor Nat Taylor, it failed to find a following in its native country, but was critically acclaimed by British critics, who saw the young Furie as a fresh talent.[2]

A year later, Furie again tried his hand at gritty adolescent drama, writing and directing A Cool Sound from Hell. Shot on location in Toronto, the film followed a young, jazz-obsessed hipster wandering aimlessly through the city's streets and metro stations, who finds himself plunged into the world of illicit drug smuggling while pursuing a femme fatale. A direct refutation of his home town's squeaky-clean self-image, the film suffered the same fate as his previous one, failing to find a proper distributor and falling into obscurity. The film was long thought lost, until it was rediscovered decades later by Furie's biographer Daniel Kremer in the vaults of the British Film Institute, mislabelled as The Beat Generation. The restored film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2016.[13]

Unable to find success or recognition in his native country, Furie relocated to England, where he had received critical acclaim, in hopes of pursuing more successful ventures. He dabbled in various genres, including horror (Doctor Blood's Coffin), comedy (Three on a Spree), and musicals (The Young Ones). His brief dip into the kitchen sink realism movement produced The Leather Boys, which in addition to showcasing the period's rocker subculture, is considered groundbreaking due to its latent homosexual themes.[14] It has since become recognized as a key entry in the queer cinema subgenre.[15][16] His major breakthrough came in 1964 when he directed the spy film The Ipcress File. Intended as a direct response to the popularity of the James Bond franchise, the film showcased a darker, and more downbeat portrayal of espionage. Its lead character Harry Palmer (played by Michael Caine) has become iconic, and the film was widely acclaimed, winning a BAFTA Award for Best British Film, an Edgar Award for Best Screenplay, and was nominated for a Palme d'Or at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. The film showcased Furie's unique visual style, utilizing multiple cameras, long-take master shots, and dynamic camera movement in lieu of fast cutting. Furie worked closely with director of photography Otto Heller to shoot through and around foreground objects, creating a "refracted" view of the action and an all-encompassing sense of paranoia. The film proved very successful, and spawned five sequels.

Furie relocated again, this time to Hollywood, where he began his American directing career with The Appaloosa, a Western film starring Marlon Brando and John Saxon.[17] He revisited the spy genre with a follow-up to The Ipcress File; The Naked Runner. Both films feature Furie's signature visuals and directorial style.[18] In 1972, he directed Lady Sings the Blues, a biographical drama about the life of jazz singer-songwriter Billie Holiday, for which lead actress Diana Ross was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Furie was later attached to direct the similarly-themed remake of The Jazz Singer, but was replaced by Richard Fleischer halfway through principal photography. He was originally offered to direct The Godfather by producer Albert S. Ruddy, but he left the job early in pre-production due to budget disputes, being replaced by Francis Ford Coppola due to the producers' desire to keep the film "ethnic to the core".[19] The film would go on to become a massive critical and financial success, winning the Best Picture Oscar and spawning two sequels. Furie's 1981 horror movie The Entity was declared by Martin Scorsese to be one of the "scariest movies of all time".[20]

Furie wrote and directed the 1986 action war film Iron Eagle, adapting a screenplay by writer Kevin Alyn Elders based on the real-life 1981 Gulf of Sidra incident. The film was overshadowed by the release of the similarly themed Top Gun later that year,[21] but proved successful enough on home video to warrant three sequels, two of which Furie directed. His 1987 superhero film Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was marred by last-minute budget cuts, forcing Furie to resort to cost-cutting tactics that included relocating the production from New York City to Milton Keynes; scaling-down or outright cutting planned set-pieces; and using cheaper, sub-standard visual effects.[22][23] The film also suffered from numerous re-edits in post-production, with multiple sub-plots, characters, and a total of 45 minutes of footage being cut.[24][22] The film was a critical and commercial failure.[25]

Since 1991, Furie has mostly directed direct-to-video action and genre films. He has also directed television series like Pensacola: Wings of Gold, Lonesome Dove: The Series, and V.I.P.

He and his early film A Cool Sound from Hell were given retrospectives at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival,[26] and in 2010 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of Canada.[27]



TV movie[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ancestry Library Edition". search.ancestrylibrary.com.
  2. ^ a b Beard, William. "Sidney Furie". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  3. ^ "AN INTERVIEW WITH SIDNEY J. FURIE (PART 1 OF 2)". www.money-into-light.com. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  4. ^ Kremer, Daniel. "Sidney J. Furie is Alive and Well and Living in Pictures: An Appreciation of an Unjustly Maligned and Marginalized Director". ConFluence Film Blog. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  5. ^ "Sidney J. Furie, Forgotten Genius of Film? | I Hate Hollywood | Shepherd Express". Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  6. ^ Scorsese, Martin (2015-10-31). "Martin Scorsese's Scariest Movies of All Time". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  7. ^ "The Boys in Company C (1978)". All About War Movies. 2014-05-27. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  8. ^ Mann, Roderick (1986-02-02). "Sidney Furie Leads The Cheer For 'Iron Eagle'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  9. ^ Sidney J. Furie: Life and Films by Daniel Kremer
  10. ^ Haaretz: "Superman, Man of Schlemiel? - Superman, the invention of two U.S. Jews, is a profoundly Jewish character whose film history is entwined with that of American Jewry" by Nathan Abrams June 16, 2013
  11. ^ Daniel Kremer (9 October 2015). Sidney J. Furie: Life and Films. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 12–. ISBN 978-0-8131-6598-1.
  12. ^ WISE, WYNDHAM. "A Dangerous Age". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  13. ^ a b Portrait: Sidney J. Furie, TIFF The Review, Aug 31, 2016 . Accessed November 13, 2016
  14. ^ "The Leather Boys". BFI. Archived from the original on February 22, 2016. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  15. ^ Murray, Raymond (1996). Images in the Dark: An Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Film and Video. Plume. ISBN 9780452276277.
  16. ^ "The Leather Boys (1964) - Moto Movie Review | RideApart". RideApart. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  17. ^ "Movie Review - - The Screen: Marlon Brando in 'The Appaloosa':A Western Directed by Furie Has Premiere - NYTimes.com". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  18. ^ "Appaloosa, The Review (1966)". www.thespinningimage.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  19. ^ "The Godfather Wars | Vanity Fair". Vanity Fair. 2014-07-14. Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2017-09-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  20. ^ Pulver, Andrew (2013-11-12). "Martin Scorsese names his scariest films of all time". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  21. ^ "11 Pairs of Damn Near Identical Movies That Were Released at the Same Time". 11 Points. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  22. ^ a b "What happened to Superman IV's Nuclear Man?". Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  23. ^ "36 Things We Learned from the 'Superman IV: The Quest for Peace' Commentary". Film School Rejects. 2014-07-24. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  24. ^ Lentz, Harris M. (February 1989). Science fiction, horror & fantasy film and television credits supplement: through 1987. McFarland. ISBN 9780899503646.
  25. ^ Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, retrieved 2017-09-20
  26. ^ "Portrait: Sidney J. Furie". TIFF. 2016-08-31. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  27. ^ "DGC honors Furie with lifetime achievement". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  28. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Ipcress File". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
  29. ^ "Tyler Perry to Host Film Life's 2006 Black Movie Awards - A Celebration of Black Cinema: Past, Present & Future, Premiering Wednesday, Oct. 18, on TNT". Time Warner. Retrieved 2010-11-03.
  30. ^ Directors Guild of Canada 2010 DGC Awards. Retrieved August 13, 2010.

External links[edit]