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The Sentinel (1977)

Not ready for marriage, a fashion model moves into an unbelievably cheap Brooklyn Heights apartment, where weird occurrences turn into a much more frightening turn of events.


Michael Winner


Jeffrey Konvitz (novel), Michael Winner (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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4 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chris Sarandon ... Michael Lerman
Cristina Raines ... Alison Parker
Martin Balsam ... Professor Ruzinsky
John Carradine ... Father Halliran
José Ferrer ... Robed Figure
Ava Gardner ... Miss Logan
Arthur Kennedy ... Monsignor Franchino
Burgess Meredith ... Charles Chazen
Sylvia Miles ... Gerde
Deborah Raffin ... Jennifer
Eli Wallach ... Detective Gatz
Christopher Walken ... Detective Rizzo
Jerry Orbach ... Film Director
Beverly D'Angelo ... Sandra
Hank Garrett ... Brenner


A fashion model moves into a house inhabited (on the top floor) by a blind priest. She begins having strange physical problems, has trouble sleeping at night, and has some nasty flashbacks of her attempted suicide. She complains to the real estate agent of the noise caused by her strange neighbors, but finds out that the house is only occupied by the priest and herself, and ultimately discovers that she has been put in the house for a reason. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


There Must Forever Be A Guardian At The Gate From Hell... See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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English | Italian | Latin

Release Date:

21 April 1977 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Centinela de los malditos See more »


Box Office


$3,700,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$4,000,000, 31 December 1977
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Universal had hoped to sign on Don Siegel as director, but Siegel ultimately bowed out due to his discomfort with this particular movie genre. See more »


(at around 36 mins) While Allison and the landlady are having coffee, the coffee cup is in the landlady's hand, then when the camera changes angles it's on the table, then back in her hand when the camera angle goes back. See more »


Det. Gatz: Well, well, well. You have an ill effect on your women, Mr. Lerman.
Michael Lerman: This isn't police business.
Det. Gatz: A girl running through the streets at 4:00 a.m. saying she's knifed her father, blood on her... that's police business.
Michael Lerman: You know the girl, Gatz. You know how she is.
Det. Gatz: I haven't seen her, not since your wife Karen's... "suicide".
Michael Lerman: Don't get in too deep.
Det. Gatz: [sarcastic] Closed, closed. closed. The case is closed.
See more »

Alternate Versions

In the theatrical version, there is no voiceover in the final scene while the camera orbits the new Sentinel. The effect of seeing Alison transformed is startling, unsettling, and frightening. For the TV version, a voiceover has been added which diminishes this effect by implying that Alison is much happier in her new life than she was before. See more »


Referenced in 31 Horror Movies in 31 Days: "Hysterical" Women (2018) See more »

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User Reviews

Fun 70s trash!
25 December 2004 | by jgeppersonSee all my reviews

Oh, what "Rosemary's Baby" hath wrought! The successes of the book and movie versions of the compelling Ira Levin story about a woman impregnated by the devil, couldn't keep Hollywood and the publishing industry away from the subject of demonology, so they came up with "The Exorcist" a few years later. That was another monster hit and the rip-offs kept on coming, including "The Omen," "Abby," etc. "The Sentinel" is another of those trashy copies, and it's loads of guilty fun.

Chris Sarandon is the male lead, after having had a great role in the Al Pacino hit "Dog Day Afternoon." Sarandon was hot, but unfortunately the movies he made soon after "Dog Day..." didn't click. "Lipstick" was one of them, and, in fact, "The Sentinel" is sort of "Lipstick" and "Mahogany" meet "The Exorcist." Sarandon is, of course, a fine actor, but his co-star Cristina Raines, try though she may, comes across as expressionless and her voice is flat. She plays a fashion model, so you could argue that her lack of range is appropriate, but it's hard to get worked up about her, especially when she's surrounded by lots of great character actors like Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Eli Wallach and a very young Beverly d'Angelo as a mute but sexually active lesbian ballet dancer (you won't believe her first scene or her last!). Raines is also up against a real bona fide movie star from The Golden Age - Ava Gardner. The divine Ava doesn't have much to do, but she makes the most of it (apparently post-dubbed).

The director Michael Winner is certainly prolific and he does have some effective and jolting visuals in this film. But he is also careless and sloppy. For instance, a professional safe cracker (played by William Hickey who I used to see in the video rental store a lot) would definitely wear gloves to keep his fingerprints anonymous.

Oh, well, who cares? The creepy movie is confusing and messy, especially the Grand Guignol finale (or two), but it's loads of fun and manages to conjure up some of the 1970s Manhattan glamor and almost innocent hedonism that seems so naive in retrospect (see the aforementioned Diana Ross vehicle "Mahogany" for more 70s glamor and amusement).

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