Sharky's Machine (1981)

R | 119 mins | Drama, Mystery | 18 December 1981

Director:

Burt Reynolds

Writer:

Gerald Di Pego

Producer:

Hank Moonjean

Cinematographer:

William Fraker

Editor:

Dennis Virkler

Production Designer:

Walter Scott Herndon

Production Company:

Deliverance Productions
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HISTORY

       According to an item in the 10 Jan 1979 DV, Orion Pictures purchased film rights to William Diehl’s book, Sharky’s Machine, for a reported $400,000. The 27 Sep 1978 DV reported that Diehl was negotiating to adapt his book for the screen, however, as stated in the 26 Jul 1979 DV, Gerald Di Pego was hired to write the screenplay.
       The 25 Oct 1978 Var announced that Burt Reynolds would star in the film, and speculated that Reynolds might also direct. The 26 Jul 1979 DV reported that John Boorman would direct, marking the first time Boorman had worked with Reynolds since 1972 when they filmed Deliverance (see entry). However, the 16 Oct 1980 DV stated that Boorman left Sharky’s Machine due to the “elaborate” post-production work required on his film Excalibur (1981, see entry). Reportedly, Boorman suggested that Reynolds should direct.
       An item in the 22 Dec 1980 HR reported that Reynolds planned to test actress Stephanie Beacham for the film, and the 10 Feb 1981 HR stated that actress Clio Goldsmith was considered for the co-starring role. However, neither Beacham nor Goldsmith appeared in the film. The 23 Feb 1981 HR announced that actress Rachel Ward had been cast as the romantic lead.
       A 13 Mar 1981 HR brief reported principal photography began 2 Mar 1981 in Atlanta, GA.
       An article in the 15 Dec 1981 DV stated that Sharky’s Machine was the only film to be released ... More Less

       According to an item in the 10 Jan 1979 DV, Orion Pictures purchased film rights to William Diehl’s book, Sharky’s Machine, for a reported $400,000. The 27 Sep 1978 DV reported that Diehl was negotiating to adapt his book for the screen, however, as stated in the 26 Jul 1979 DV, Gerald Di Pego was hired to write the screenplay.
       The 25 Oct 1978 Var announced that Burt Reynolds would star in the film, and speculated that Reynolds might also direct. The 26 Jul 1979 DV reported that John Boorman would direct, marking the first time Boorman had worked with Reynolds since 1972 when they filmed Deliverance (see entry). However, the 16 Oct 1980 DV stated that Boorman left Sharky’s Machine due to the “elaborate” post-production work required on his film Excalibur (1981, see entry). Reportedly, Boorman suggested that Reynolds should direct.
       An item in the 22 Dec 1980 HR reported that Reynolds planned to test actress Stephanie Beacham for the film, and the 10 Feb 1981 HR stated that actress Clio Goldsmith was considered for the co-starring role. However, neither Beacham nor Goldsmith appeared in the film. The 23 Feb 1981 HR announced that actress Rachel Ward had been cast as the romantic lead.
       A 13 Mar 1981 HR brief reported principal photography began 2 Mar 1981 in Atlanta, GA.
       An article in the 15 Dec 1981 DV stated that Sharky’s Machine was the only film to be released in a 70mm format during the 1981 Christmas season. Due to the success of several pictures such as Star Wars (1977, see entry) and Apocalypse Now (1979, see entry), the use of 70mm, widescreen technology had been growing for several years in U.S. film exhibition, primarily among “big pictures.” However, during 1981, only six films had been released in 70mm, compared to thirteen films in 1980. The “surprise” of the 1981 Christmas season was that “epic” films, such as Reds (see entry), were released in “monaural, 35mm versions,” while Reynolds’ action film, Sharky’s Machine, was released in “70mm/six-track Dolby stereo.”
       The 13 Aug 1981 DV announced that the film’s premiere on 12 Dec 1981 in Atlanta would benefit the police widows and orphans fund. The 31 Dec 1981 HR noted the film opened on 18 Dec 1981 in more than 1,000 theaters. The 23 Feb 1982 Village Voice listed the “Last Releases of 1981,” terming Sharky’s Machine as a “hit” with a box-office gross of $20 million.
       An item in the 25 Feb 1981 Var stated that Lynn Stalmaster and Associates filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Deliverance Productions Inc. in Los Angeles, CA, superior court. The suit claimed that the casting director was hired in Jul 1980 to provide “all Screen Actors Guild (SAG)” actors for Sharky’s Machine for a fee of $25,000, but only received $10,000 before his services were terminated in Nov 1980. Stalmaster wanted the remaining $15,000 payment, plus $924 in expenses. The outcome of this suit is unknown as of Feb 2015.
       The 2 Apr 2004 DV reported that Warner Bros. and producer Basil Iwanyk planned to remake Sharky’s Machine and hired Jerry Stahl to write the screenplay. The remake has not been produced as of Feb 2015.

      End credits include the following statement: “The Producers gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the State of Georgia, the City of Atlanta and the Georgia State Film Commission in the making of this film.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Sep 1978.
---
Daily Variety
10 Jan 1979.
---
Daily Variety
26 Jul 1979.
---
Daily Variety
16 Oct 1980.
---
Daily Variety
13 Aug 1981.
---
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1981.
---
Daily Variety
2 Apr 2004
p. 1, 22.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Feb 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Feb 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Mar 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 1981
p. 3, 16.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Dec 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Dec 1981
p. 6.
New York Times
18 Dec 1981
p. 10.
Variety
25 Oct 1978.
---
Variety
25 Feb 1981.
---
Variety
16 Dec 1981
p. 16.
Village Voice
23 Feb 1982.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Deliverance Productions Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Elec gaffer
Key grip
Elec best boy
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Set des
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Standby painter
Painter foreman
COSTUMES
Men's ward supv
Men's costumer
Women's ward supv
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus arr and cond by
Mus ed
Addl arr
Scoring mixer
Mus coord
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
A.D.R. ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and opticals by
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Asst to prod/Prod coord
Asst to Burt Reynolds
Asst to Burt Reynolds
Admin asst
Admin asst
Admin asst
Admin asst
Planning consultant
Asst to Terry H. Liebling
Dominoe's portrait by
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
First aid
Transportation coord
Transportation co-capt
Transportation co-capt
Security supv
Security supv
Craft service
STAND INS
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Sharky's Machine by William Diehl (New York, 1978).
AUTHOR
SONGS
“My Funny Valentine,” performed by Chet Baker, by R. Rodgers and L. Hart, courtesy Liberty Records, a division of Capitol Records
“Street Life,” performed by Randy Crawford, by J. Sample and W. Jennings, courtesy Warner Bros. Records
“Sharky’s Theme,” performed by Eddie Harris, by C. Crofford, J. Durrill, B. Troup and S. Garrett
+
SONGS
“My Funny Valentine,” performed by Chet Baker, by R. Rodgers and L. Hart, courtesy Liberty Records, a division of Capitol Records
“Street Life,” performed by Randy Crawford, by J. Sample and W. Jennings, courtesy Warner Bros. Records
“Sharky’s Theme,” performed by Eddie Harris, by C. Crofford, J. Durrill, B. Troup and S. Garrett
“Let’s Keep Dancing,” performed by Peggy Lee, by C. Crofford, J. Durrill, B. Troup and S. Garrett
“My Funny Valentine,” performed by Julie London, by R. Rodgers and L. Hart
“Route 66,” performed by The Manhattan Transfer, by B. Troup, courtesy Atlantic Records
“Dope Bust,” performed by Flora Purim, by A. Capps, B. Florence, D. Pell, and S. Garrett
“Sexercise,” performed by Doc Severinsen, by B. Florence
“High Energy,” performed by Doc Severinsen, by B. Florence
“After Hours,” performed by Finis Tasby, by R. Bruce, B. Feyne and A. Parrish
“Before You,” performed by Sarah Vaughan and Joe Williams, by C. Crofford, J. Durrill and S. Garrett, Miss Vaughan courtesy Pablo Records
“Love Theme From Sharky’s Machine,” performed by Sarah Vaughan, by C. Crofford, J. Durrill, B. Troup and S. Garrett
“8 To 5 I Lose,” performed by Joe Williams, by C. Crofford, J. Durrill, B. Troup and S. Garrett.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Sharkey's Machine
Release Date:
18 December 1981
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 18 December 1981
Production Date:
began 2 March 1981
Copyright Claimant:
Orion Pictures Company
Copyright Date:
27 January 1982
Copyright Number:
PA127233
Physical Properties:
Sound
Presented in Dolby Stereo in select theaters
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panflex Cameras by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
119
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Sgt. Tom Sharky is working an undercover drug deal when another officer, Smiley, unexpectedly arrives. The drug dealer takes off with Sharky in pursuit. The dealer takes a woman hostage, forces his way onto a crowded city bus and shoots the bus driver as Sharky reaches the bus and kills the dealer. However, since a civilian was shot, Sharky is demoted from Narcotics to the Vice division. Joe Tipps, Sharky’s Narcotics partner, is angry that Sharky has been demoted while Smiley, who ruined the drug bust, remains in Narcotics. Friscoe, the Vice supervisor, welcomes Sharky to the squad’s basement offices and acknowledges that he ran a good “machine” of officers in Narcotics until Smiley arrived. Sharky is assigned to work with fellow Vice officers, “Arch” and “Papa,” at a rally for gubernatorial candidate Donald Hotchkins. Meanwhile, a killer named Billy Score sneaks into a mansion and murders an undercover agent and a high-priced Asian prostitute. En route to the rally, Sharky hears about the murders, but his new co-workers remind him that their current assignment is to arrest prostitutes in the park at the rally. Later, they return to Vice with several prostitutes and Sharky interviews Mabel. She is irate when Sharky tosses her into the “cage” and complains that Friscoe is treating Percy St. Claire, a pimp who handles high-priced prostitutes, with more respect. While Percy is processed, Sharky, Arch, Papa, and Friscoe look through his belongings and discover a list of seven prostitute’s names. Arch notices each name is seven letters and Sharky realizes they are telephone numbers. When Sharky requests ... +


Sgt. Tom Sharky is working an undercover drug deal when another officer, Smiley, unexpectedly arrives. The drug dealer takes off with Sharky in pursuit. The dealer takes a woman hostage, forces his way onto a crowded city bus and shoots the bus driver as Sharky reaches the bus and kills the dealer. However, since a civilian was shot, Sharky is demoted from Narcotics to the Vice division. Joe Tipps, Sharky’s Narcotics partner, is angry that Sharky has been demoted while Smiley, who ruined the drug bust, remains in Narcotics. Friscoe, the Vice supervisor, welcomes Sharky to the squad’s basement offices and acknowledges that he ran a good “machine” of officers in Narcotics until Smiley arrived. Sharky is assigned to work with fellow Vice officers, “Arch” and “Papa,” at a rally for gubernatorial candidate Donald Hotchkins. Meanwhile, a killer named Billy Score sneaks into a mansion and murders an undercover agent and a high-priced Asian prostitute. En route to the rally, Sharky hears about the murders, but his new co-workers remind him that their current assignment is to arrest prostitutes in the park at the rally. Later, they return to Vice with several prostitutes and Sharky interviews Mabel. She is irate when Sharky tosses her into the “cage” and complains that Friscoe is treating Percy St. Claire, a pimp who handles high-priced prostitutes, with more respect. While Percy is processed, Sharky, Arch, Papa, and Friscoe look through his belongings and discover a list of seven prostitute’s names. Arch notices each name is seven letters and Sharky realizes they are telephone numbers. When Sharky requests wiretaps for the numbers, they learn that “Siakwan” is the murdered prostitute. They are given permission for wiretaps on five of the remaining numbers, but are refused one for “Dominoe.” Sharky wants a wiretap on that number too, and insists he will get help from his friend Nosh, a wiretap expert who works in Personnel. Later, they recognize Donald Hotchkins’s voice on a wiretap recording from Dominoe’s telephone. Sharky notes that the married candidate is seeing the prostitute whose number was excluded from the wiretap list by someone in the police department. Suspicious, Sharky wants continuous surveillance on Dominoe and offers to be the point person, backed up by his new “machine.” They ask Friscoe to remain silent about the surveillance operation. Sharky and Nosh sneak into Dominoe’s apartment and rig it with surveillance equipment. She returns early and they rush to the elevator, pretending to fix it as she reaches her floor. They watch from an apartment in a nearby building as Dominoe meets her friend, Tiffany, and Sharky follows the women to their dance class. As Sharky’s surveillance operation continues, he becomes increasingly attracted to the beautiful Dominoe. Later, Donald Hotchkins arrives at Dominoe’s apartment and reveals he bought a house for her. Their rendezvous is interrupted when Dominoe receives a call from a man named Victor, who orders her to have Hotchkins leave. Later, Sharky watches as Victor arrives at Dominoe’s place. She discloses that Hotchkins bought a home for her and announces she is quitting. Victor agrees to let her quit after they have sex one more time, and Sharky gets Victor’s license plate as he leaves. While Sharky continues his surveillance, the killer, Billy Score, also watches Dominoe from an apartment in the same building as Sharky. Score snorts cocaine and takes a handful of pills before going to Dominoe’s building. He rides the elevator to her floor and fires a sawed-off shotgun through the door, shooting the woman in the face. Sharky races to Dominoe’s building and hears Billy Score in the stairwell, but the killer eludes him. Later, Sharky, Arch, Papa and Nosh work with the coroner and Barrett, a forensic officer, but do not contact Homicide, fearing the case will be buried. Sharky realizes the killer watched Dominoe from his building, and a search of the killer’s apartment unearths fingerprints and drugs. Arch and Sharky go to the bar where a drug dealer named “Kitten” operates, and Sharky waits while Arch grills Kitten outside. Kitten admits that someone bought 1,000 pills recently, but refuses to reveal the buyer’s name. Arch threatens him, but the drug dealer sees Billy Score standing in the alley. Kitten knocks Arch down and runs away, but Score’s two Asian henchmen beat the drug dealer to death, disappearing before Sharky and Arch reach the body. Sharky approaches Donald Hotchkins at a fundraiser with the news of Dominoe’s death. Later, Hotchkins confronts Victor, who insists Dominoe would have destroyed his political career. Victor offers Hotchkins the choice to continue his ascent with Victor’s help or lose the election, and Hotchkins remains on board. The next day, Friscoe demands an update from Sharky’s team. Fingerprints reveal Billy Score is the killer and they can tie him to the murders of Dominoe, Siakwan, and the undercover agent. For years, Score has trafficked young girls, who are raped, drugged and sold. Friscoe gives Sharky’s team another day to work the case before turning it over to Homicide. Sharky returns to Dominoe’s apartment and is surprised when she returns. When they realize that her friend, Tiffany, was killed instead of Dominoe, Sharky insists on getting her to safety. Nosh calls to inform Sharky that the surveillance tapes are missing. Nosh has some copies at his home, but the others are missing, and they realize someone in the department cannot be trusted. Sharky takes Dominoe to his childhood home, which he recently purchased and is renovating on weekends. Dominoe is stunned that surveillance photos of herself cover a wall in Sharky’s home. He demands to know Victor’s last name, but Dominoe refuses and they argue. The next morning, they get to know each other better and make love. Meanwhile, Sharky’s former narcotics partner, Joe Tipps, declares Sharky is right about a “fink” in the department. Joe plans to speak to the district attorney, but Score’s henchman run Joe over, killing him. That night, Sharky threatens Victor at his penthouse. Victor laughs that Sharky has no evidence; the surveillance tapes are missing and Dominoe is dead. Sharky asks if Victor has spoken with Tiffany lately, and reveals that Dominoe is alive. Sharky heads for Nosh’s home, where he is attacked by Score’s two henchmen and knocked unconscious. He wakens on a boat where he is confronted by Smiley, the police department “snitch.” Smiley reveals that Joe and Nosh are both dead, and demands to know Dominoe’s location. When Sharky refuses to answer, Smiley orders the henchmen to cut off two of his fingers. Despite the pain, Sharky rams the table at Smiley, grabs his gun and shoots him, then kills the henchmen. Sharky and Dominoe appear at the rally celebrating Hotchkins’ victory, shocking the politician into silence before he is taken into police custody. At his penthouse, Victor packs to leave and gives $20,000 to Bill Score, ordering him to lay low. Score snorts more cocaine, and insists he will not be sent away by his brother after years of working together. When Victor accuses him of being a “stupid junkie,” Score shoots his brother. Sharky, Papa and Arch arrive to arrest Victor, find his body and search for Billy Score. As they track Billy Score through the building, Papa is killed. Arch and Score badly wound each other in a gunfight, but Score keeps moving. Sharky finds Score standing in front of a window, ready to shoot himself. Sharky fires first, and Score crashes through the high-rise window, plummeting to his death. Later, Sharky and Dominoe relax in the park near his home. +

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Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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