The Deep (1977) – Peter Yates

The next big recommendation from DK Canada’s The Movie Book is my all time favorite movie Jaws, which I’ve talked about more than a couple of times on the blog, so I moved right along to the What Else To Watch list, and dug into the other Peter Benchely novel that was made into a feature film. The Deep.

Starring Nick Nolte, Jacqueline Bisset (who can forget the opening dive sequence and that white tee), Louis Gossett Jr., Eli Wallach, and Robert Shaw, the film, in large part was shot on location in Bermuda.

And that, right there, is a fun reason to watch this one, at least for me. The film was shot released in 77, and seven years later that’s where I was living. In fact, as odd as it seems, no sooner had we moved there, and gotten our first VCR, than this is the movie my parents had rented.

The plot follows two amateur divers, with aspirations of treasure hunting, Gail (Bisset)and David (Nolte) who discover a secret cargo on a submerged World War II shipwreck. Upon its discovery, problems arise with some of the shadier local elements.

Featuring some lovely underwater sequences, and some familiar locations to those of us who love the island, the film also highlights a score by John Barry, and Nick Nolte’s mustache. The film itself feels steeped in melodrama, and while it does show off the island, it doesn’t quite do it justice.

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The film isn’t lit well, the island doesn’t look anywhere near as warm as it is. There’s no heat, or vibrant colors to the film, which is sad, because of the prevalence of color on the island.

Shaw is famed treasure hunter, Romer Treece, who feels like a slightly less salty version of Quint, and his residence is much nicer. Gossett plays Henri Cloche who seems intent on not only getting his hands on what Gail and David have already uncovered, but the rest of it as well.

There’s a lot of silliness going on in the film, especially with some strange voodoo work surrounding Cloche. It just doesn’t work within the context of the story, and should have been adapted as something else. Sorry Benchley.

In the end this one is a bit of a miss, the adventure side of the story doesn’t have enough oomph, and how do you go to a gorgeous location to serve as the backdrop of your movie, and then not highlight the location? As both adventure and travelogue The Deep comes in a little shallow.

Still, it’s fun to see how cinema, and adventure films have grown over the decades, and there are so many more films to come as I continue my way through DK Books’ The Movie Book.

Pick one up and find a new classic to watch tonight!

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