Judging by this publicity shot for The Deep, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a sequel to Deep Throat.
Jaws, as I have previously mentioned, was one of my earliest movie experiences, and left a lasting impression on me. It also made a major impact on the movie industry in the late seventies, who fell over themselves to produce big budget action-adventure films set at sea. Preferably involving lots of diving. This ranged from the low-budget (Piranha) to the silly (Orca: Killer Whale). Somewhere in the middle was The Deep. To ensure the connection to Jaws was strong in audience minds, they had Peter Benchley write the script and gave a starring role to Robert Shaw, aka. Quint. Also, in a forward nod to Jaws 3D the main villain is played by Louis Gosset Jr.
Robert Shaw gave such a mesmerising performance in Jaws that it is difficult to watch him in anything else. What struck me initially in The Deep was how young he looked, despite filming this two years later. He was only forty-eight in Jaws! He must have great make-up, something I’d never even considered before. Now my admiration for him in Jaws has gone up even more. He died only a year after The Deep was released, aged fifty-one, and he looks young and fit. He (and most likely a stunt double) spends a lot of time under water, and as I know nothing about the production of the film I assume it’s a combination of tank work and actual ocean shoots. It’s surprising he agreed to do another film on water after the nightmare shoot of Jaws.He is the backbone in this film as the diving, treasure-hunting hero of Bermuda. When he meets Nick Nolte and Jacquiline Bisset and discovers how hopeless Nolte is at making decisions, he takes over and guides the rest of the film.
The filmmakers throw in some blaxploitation nods, despite the fad having died out by the late seventies, and some voodoo straight out of Live and Let Die. Bisset is given little to do except be a woman in peril when the script dicates. Despite that she makes the most of it and manages to deliver a slightly less than wooden performance. What’s less than wooden? MDF?
Anyway, The Deep is an entertaining two hours as long as you don’t try and follow the plot too deeply. It has some excellent underwater action scenes which all look convincing. No plastic sharks here, and a nice cameo from a killer moray eel.