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Sharky's Machine

By Jeff Shannon

Burt Reynolds was getting restless with the good ol' boy screen image he cultivated in Smokey & the Bandit and numerous car-chase flicks of the mid-to-late 1970s, and this brutal 1981 thriller presented the actor with an interesting change of pace. Reynolds directed the film as well, and there was a lot at stake for him both personally and professionally, so Sharky's Machine--based on a gutsy novel by William Diehl--has an urgent, no-nonsense quality that lifts it above most comparably sleazy thrillers. The plot may be sordid, but Reynolds's handling of it is not. This adds another element of freshness to the story of a demoted Atlanta vice cop (Reynolds) who pursues a personal vendetta against a crime boss (Vittorio Gassman) after falling in love with a stunning beauty (Rachel Ward) from the mobster's stable of high-priced prostitutes. The climactic shootout is violent and bloody in keeping with movies of the period (when jarring brutality was beginning to be commonplace in Hollywood films), but Reynolds doesn't go overboard. Sharky's Machine doesn't pretend to be anything more (or less) than a tough-as-nails crime movie, and it's one of Reynolds's most unusual and intelligent films.

 

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Burt Reynolds

Stars: Burt Reynolds, Rachel Ward, Vittorio Gassman, Brian Keith, Charles Durning, Bernie Casey, Henry Silva, Earl Holliman, Richard Libertini, John Fiedler, Darryl Hickman, Hari Rhodes

Released: December 18, 1981

Availability: DVD VHS


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