Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Don’t get ahead of me on this.  It will diminish your enjoyment of what I am about to deliver, and in the context of this narrative there is little enjoyment to waste.  I am cutting it close here.  I know it and I admit it.  Which makes me – at least to me – a commendable individual.

I ask you to consider not the content of the following narrative but the underlying emotion experienced by yours truly in relation to that content.  That’s the story.  And its implications, I think, are reverberating.  Making the journey, I think again, worth the effort. 

Or at least it’s close.

I do not recall when, but I had a… I wouldn’t call it a dispute… more of a friendly disagreement with a cherished acquaintance concerning movie director Sidney J. Furie.

A Brief But Unnecessary Digression

When I lived in England, I was visited by Steve Posen who I did not know but someone I know heard he was going to England and they told him to look me up so he did. 

Steve Posen was the nephew of Aaron Posen, my erstwhile orthodontist, who even followed me to camp, to tighten my braces.  Dr. Posen’s father made false teeth.  His partner in that dubious enterprise was the father of movie director Sidney J. Furie.

It was through this “Steve Posen ‘Our-Relatives-Make-False-Teeth-Together’ Connection” that I met Sidney J. Furie, then riding high as an “A-List”, or at least “B+-List” director.  The three of us dined at London’s Ritz Carlton Hotel, where poor and hungry, I ordered a steak, unaware that the word “tartare” to the right of the word “steak” meant “uncooked.” 

It was a less than auspicious experience, beyond my consuming exotic dog food for dinner and pretending, with some difficulty, that it was exactly the dish I had intended to order.  Further raining on the proceedings, my humorous interjections throughout the evening earned a remonstrative response from the celebrated director, who repeatedly told me, “I know you’re funny.  Stop it.”  

End of Brief But Unnecessary Digression (though not without retroactive regret.)

In my mind, I suppose, having met film director Sidney J. Furie in person made me some kind of a “Sidney J. Furie” expert.  So when my cherished acquaintance said that Sidney J. Furie directed the first “Harry Palmer” movie The Ipcress File (1965) starring Michael Caine, I immediately corrected him, asserting that Sidney J. Furie directed the second “Harry Palmer” movie Funeral in Berlin (1966), also starring Michael Caine.  (There was no dispute that Michael Caine was in both of them.)

(Note:  This is the place where it’s best not to get ahead of me.  The actual answer is of secondary importance.)

Lacking sufficient interest in pursuing the matter further, we simply left it at that, agreeing the respectfully disagree, and getting on with our fascinating lives. 

I departed the encounter believing that Sidney J. Furie directed Funeral in Berlin, not The Ipcress File.

FLASH FORWARD:  A number of weeks later, or an approximation thereto.

I am watching Turner Classic Movies, which at that fortuitous moment is screening the original “Harry Palmer” trilogy “back-to-back-to-back.”  (The third entry being Billion Dollar Brain (1967), also starring Michael Caine, although by now… I mean, if you can’t strike the same match twice, try striking it a third time.)  

I decided to watch all of them, making it through the first two, but hailing a cab half way through Billion Dollar Brain. 

The opening credits were rolling on The Ipcress File.

Music by John Barry

Casting by Weston Drury Jr. (aka: Weston Drury Jnr.)

Location Management Ross MacKenzie (aka:  Ross Mackenzie; these people are sticklers.  I had to look real close to notice the difference.)

I knew that the last credit at the beginning of a movie – or the first credit at the end of it – was contractually reserved for the Directed By credit.  As the Ipcress Files credits continued, my heart beat progressively faster.  Vindication was at hand.  Soon I would read:  Directed by...

Not Sidney J. Furie.   

The moment arrived.  The credit appeared.

Directed by

Sidney J. Furie. 

(I wish I could write that in smaller print.  To lessen the embarrassment.  And make it harder for other people to read.)

I was totally alone.  No smug superiority to submit to.  No one to tell me “So there!”  or, more elaborately, “So there, Mr. Sidney J. Furie expert…. not.”  Being alone, it turned out, offered little relief from my humiliation and shame.

Triggering the Question of the Day:

What’s so terrible about being wrong?

And by the way, Sidney J. Furie…

What’s so wrong about being funny?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

"dog food for dinner", that was funny. There is a scene in Wall St. where a waiter brings the Micheal Douglas character a plate consisting of an uncooked steak with a raw egg yoke on top. I always wondered what that was, I guess it was steak tartare.

Okay since Earl brought him up in his excellent post let's talk about Micheal Caine. Great actor? Yes! Nice guy? Seems to be. Opportunistic in respect to providing for himself, his family and his retirement, absolutely nothing wrong with that. But holy shit Caine every time I sit down to enjoy a movie you're in it! Doesn't matter what genre - action, adventure, musical, sci fi, drama, comedy, porn - if you don't make an appearance I return it and tell them there's something wrong and I want my money back. You even had roles in those westerns Earl talked about on Tuesday. I swear I caught a glimpse of you in my buddy's wedding video the other day.

From "Alfie" to "Selfie" if there's a camera around you'll find it. Go to those celebrity hand prints in cement at Grauman's Chinese Theater and you'll see Micheal Caine's....holding a script! It's not just the quantity Caine, it's the quality. Jaws 4? Come on man, an Englishman in the Caribbean fighting a great white shark? I know the Brits love fish and chips but that was one time you should have said "no thanks". When you read a script Caine try educating yourself, not Rita! Try following some Cider House Rules when making a decision about a script, like not following up an Oscar nominated role by agreeing to a Muppet movie. After starring in "The Swarm", a movie about an Englishman chasing killer bees, say no to the aforementioned Jaws flick. My God how many killer animals can one Englishman chase? And Caine, if another one of your movies bomb blame yourself, not Rio!

Sorry Earl, got carried away with my own Caine Mutiny there.