• Still not yet 40 years old, The Fury, is already Brian De Palma’s eleventh (11th) film- fourth (4th) in the archives.
  • John Williams (year after Star Wars, and the same year as Superman) does the music. The Fury is also notable as being the debut film for a young Daryl Hannah.
  • De Palma’s camera is active of course- early on during the Israel sequence De Palma pushes the camera on a pendulum back and forth. De Palma does this a half dozen times throughout the film for some lovely stylistic/formal consistency. However, when and where to deploy this stylistic touch does not always work- the ice cream Sunday scene is very weak—but later when Amy Irving channels the Robin character, it works perfectly.

when The Fury is at its best, De Palma is showing off his depth of field prowess…

…but the film is inarguably uneven. There are at least 15-20 minutes that needed to be left on the cutting room floor.

  • I get a kick of out the idea of Kirk Douglas’ (62-years old in 1978) character disguising himself as an old man to hide. Douglas always took care of himself and is in great shape jumping around the city like spider man in some action sequence.

Telepathy as a weapon is the premise. It feels like a cousin to Carrie– but also related to say Scanners and The Dead Zone from David Cronenberg (The Fury is before both). Amy Irving comes off very well as Gillian. Poor Andrew Stevens struggles to come off as Robin- the role is just too much for him as he furrows his brow when angry. This also has a bit of Hitchcock’s wrong/wanted man on the run to it (39 Steps, North by Northwest) with Kirk Douglas’ portion of the narrative.

  • Dennis Franz (before his mustache here) appears in five De Palma films. In The Fury he plays comic relief- and it just does not work.
  • Speaking of sequences that do not work—there is a montage of Irving playing video games and eating pizza- the film just needs to be tightened up. There is a fair amount of fat on this 118-minute running time.

At the 53-minute mark De Palma uses his trademark split diopter shot. Amy is in the foreground right in profile. The lamp shade is in the middle of the frame and the middle depth of field—and Carrie Snodgress is background left.

There is a masterful composition at the 67-minute mark. John Cassavetes (very good as a villain) is foreground left. Middle depth right is Charles Durning with some stooge in the background center out of focus.

  • Old Chicago, the first inside theme park, is the kind of massive set piece Hitchcock (used The Statue of Liberty in Saboteur and Mount Rushmore in North by Northwest among many others) would have loved. The park was built in 1975 and closed in 1980.
  • Another beautiful split diopter at the 98-minute mark with Robyn’s hand in the foreground with a head low angle in the background. Yet one more diopter later- this time of Irving’s hand (and a convincing Cassavetes).

For every wrong note De Palma hits (and there are a few here)- there is an inspired or even breathtaking sequence (including this composition) to buoy the film. Late in the film, the slow motion action sequence of Irving escaping to John Williams’ score is a one of the highlights.

  • Douglas’ character certainly deserves a better ending then the one De Palma gives him.
  • Recommend / Highly Recommend border