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|Index||14 reviews in total|
Contrary to the previous critic's statements, the end result of this film is not a reflection on Burt, the crew or the late great Samuel Fuller. This was a doomed project from the beginning. Fuller, recently returning from France, was all but blacklisted by American producers. His two previous films: Shock Corridor and Naked Kiss were too hard hitting and edgy for Hollywood producers. Almost completely broke, Fuller accepted an offer from two Mexican producers to adapt Victor Canning's 'Twist of the Knife'. Thus began "Caine", AKA "Maneater" AKA "Shark!", etc al. At the time, Burt Reynolds was only a television actor, with few if any real film credits. Silvia Pinal, who was great in Luis Bunuel's masterful, 'Viridiana' was terrific in Shark, as was Barry Sullivan as Mallare(who was also great in Fuller's, 'Forty Guns'). Ultimately, the Mexican producers/studio heads completely recut this film behind Fuller's back. Fuller denounced it, and with good reason. This film is bad, make no mistake. However, it was not Sam Fuller's fault, or Burt's, or Pinal, or Raul Martinez Solares, who provided the gritty, spooky cinematography for Shark. Shark is still enjoyable enough though. I would recommend Vodka or some aged Kentucky Bourbon as an accompaniment. Maybe some Bulleit on ice. Water-logged? I think not. This lil' stinker just requires a bit of booze and some willing cohorts.
It being said that Shark is far from being what co-writer/director
Samuel Fuller envisioned is right on the money. Or rather, lacking
money, because this film seems to have been made with change that fell
from the pockets of the producers. It's another film that looks and
feels like it was made with the grit and gusto of a man with a need to
tell a story, but unfortunately it's quite compromised. On the DVD- not
too unfitting released by Troma- the special features go to lengths to
explain what became of the film once it was completed, and taken out of
Fuller's hands to even include (at the START of the film) a real lethal
shark attack. That the film, ironically, is not the total disaster that
Fuller thought it was once he saw what the producers did, is a credit
to him and first-time movie star Burt Reynolds.
Now, as long as you're not a stickler for little things like, say, continuity (check out that beard, or how it withers scene to scene, for example), the film isn't a total waste. For one thing it still carries the memorably tough wit of some of Fuller's noir films of the 50s, and he still makes his mark on the film in spurts, as one can tell through its fractured, ultra low-budget qualities (i.e. made in Mexico with a shamble for Sudanese sets, if that's what they are). He also gets a little cool gusto out of Reynolds, who would later bloom, so to speak, as a major star in his own right. Here, however, he's still finding his feet some of the time, so it goes without saying that it's more machismo and presence than real 'acting' up on screen. He plays Caine, a mercenary gun seller with a predilection for wacky danger (i.e. tossing dynamite out of his car to thwart those on his tail at the start). He gets recruited by a tempting female who offers him a chance to dig up gold in a sunken ship...all in shark infested waters! When these scenes do finally come up after a lot of plot line subterfuge, it's hit or miss.
Then again, this is long before Jaws, so if the temptation to hear a really rousing score over the underwater scenes does strike you, it speaks to not just that film's strengths but how Shark! doesn't quite realize all of its potential. It wouldn't be 100% fair to blame just the producers for the bits of fiasco, because even through what is quite good that Fuller pulls off on screen (I liked the small chase in the village with the boy and the watch, and a few of the more blatantly exciting moments with Reynolds in his underwater garb), he doesn't have that much of a really terrific story to work with to start with. Maybe it's a combination of factors, but that it's Sam Fuller's weakest movie I've seen of his films is both a credit to what he could do with what could possibly have been a real Z-grade stinker and a tome to what he couldn't do with un-supportive, conniving producers. Probably worth a good, dumb time for drinking buddies, however.
Burt Reynolds (who never looked more homoerotic macho) plays an American
criminal/gundealer in the middle east. After losing all his guns and money
in a bust, he starts helping a beautiful blonde and her elderly sugardaddy
dive for gold in the shark-filled waters of Sudan. What saves this pretty
routine story is the "Fuller edge" put on the charcters: once again he is
dealing with cynical, greedy anti-heroes, actually more complex than the
lightweight story requires. Imagine a b-movie version of (the overrated)
John Huston movie "Treasure of Sierra Madre" set in Sudan and with a bunch
of hungry sharks thrown in for good measure, and you got a pretty good
of what to expect. Also, it's interesting to see a pre-Jaws (pre-Jaws
pre-lousy italian Jaws clone, pre-computer animated Jaws clone...)
shark-movie. It makes you realise just how groundbreaking Spielberg's
Conclusion: Director Samuel Fuller has made both worse and far better movies than this. If you're a fan of his, or simply want a REAL film in these days of plastic moviemaking, by all means check this out. You probably won't end up loving it, but you'll probably agree it's a perfectly acceptable way to spend 90 minutes of your life. Give it a try.
I've read some about Sam Fuller, and I derive that he is best known for
directing movies about WWII. However, "Shark!" is the first of his
movies that I've seen. Contrary to what the title may imply, it is not
really about people battling an elongate elasmobranch - although there
are some such scenes in the movie - but rather an incomprehensible
story of smuggling in a small Sudanese town with lost treasure off the
coast. Burt Reynolds plays his usual macho role as the man caught in
the middle of the imbroglio.
Does the movie make any sense? No, not really. It seems like the sort of movie where they had several different people writing the script, and none of them knew what the others were writing. It may be a pretty stupid movie, but believe me it's cool! Not only because of Reynolds's modus operandi, but because Silvia Pinal is REALLY hot! In fact, there's a "From Here to Eternity" moment (at least that's what I would call it). Why didn't they show her wearing less?! Anyway, it's basically a terrible movie, but pretty neat. Worth seeing as a historical reference
Based on a novel (which I've read) by Victor Canning. Mexico stands in
for a squalid town in the Sudan where a group of seedy characters are
stranded. Barry Sullivan is the grumpy honcho with the shady moves. A
fortune in submerged gold in a shipwreck in shark-infested waters is
the prize. Burt Reynolds, channeling the Wages of Fear, has reason to
sweat: he has to carry a long and boring sub-plot concerning his
"relationship" with a scroungy little street kid until the main plot
kicks in. Arthur Kennedy(I think he was supposed to be an Arab. He's
wearing a fez, anyway) shamelessly hams it up as the town drunk.Sure,
Burt Reynolds is trapped in the dead-end of the Sudan, yet shirtless in
some tight white pants he comes across as cocky as his chest is hairy.
Sam Fuller's hard-boiled sensibilities surface in the existential dialog: "Just getting up in the morning is a risk." The main trouble with the film, aside from the horrendous post-production hack-job performed upon it by the clueless producers, is the dull and draggy pace. With a few judicious trims and without the wholesale chop chop this could be a much better film. Also the old source print is so dark at times it is impossible to tell what is happening. As it stands it is a curiosity, worth watching at least once, but nothing more.
The majority of this Fuller film takes place in a little Sudanese village where Burt Reynolds can't seem to leave because of a little arms smuggling incident. He plays his usual tough guy role which is amplified ten times because this IS a Sam Fuller film. It all concerns a rather ridiculous plot involving sunken treasure in shark infested waters. What actually hat makes up 90% of this film is just a lot of macho, stupid and funny moments revolving around theft, fighting, drinking and romancing in a foreign land. Man Eater a.k.a. Shark! is an entertainingly mindless piece of celluloid that will probably go down better with a few drinks and some friends who can appreciate the trashier things in life.
Samuel Fuller was an acclaimed and highly respected director, so obviously when he himself thought one of his movies was pure rubbish; the public opinion got heavily influenced by that. Fuller completely disowned "Shark!", allegedly because the producers edited the finished product too heavily and used a tragic accident on the set as sensational promotion material, and hence it's widely regarded as a cinematic failure. Maybe if Fuller had stated that this was the personal favorite of his own repertoire, "Shark!" could have been a classic? In spite of its many, many shortcomings, this still remains an interesting film in my humble opinion. Fuller was right about one thing, though "Shark!" is really badly promoted. The film falsely raises the impression this is an adventurous underwater thriller with non-stop man vs. shark battles and treasure hunting, but it really isn't. This is merely a story about typical human greed, double-crossing and swindling, imaginatively set in the noticeably hot and dusty North-Eastern hell of Sudan. Burt Reynolds, cool as always even though not performing at his best, plays a cynical gun smuggler gone astray after he lost a shipment of merchandise in a truck crash. He becomes involved with an acclaimed doctor and his blond muse in a little seaside town. The doc supposedly researches a groundbreaking medical breakthrough and dives for specific substance. In reality, however, they're diving for sunken treasures and literally everybody in the little town attempts to bamboozle each other. The titular shark with exclamation mark attacks exactly two times; in the very beginning, even long before the opening credits, and once more near the climax. It's a ridiculously small animal (the monster from Spielberg's "Jaws" would devour it in one single bite) and the shark footage is completely irrelevant to the plot, in fact. There's a nearly unforgivably large amount of boring sequences to struggle through and many of the sub plots are thoroughly uninteresting; like Reynolds' character Caine developing a supposedly touching friendship with a local Sudan street kid who smoke cigarillos like a pro. The photography and editing are effectively raunchy and the script contains some unexpectedly hilarious one-liners, for example "We'll be like one happy family Happy sugar daddy, happy daughter and happy son-of-a-bitch!". The film is worth seeing for the downbeat character drawings and particularly to see how Fuller undeniably a gifted director conveys a very plausible atmosphere of greed, unbearable heat, selfishness and forlornness.
Fuller really fails in this strangely flat boating drama. It probably
has something to do with the really unattractive old crow who is
supposed to seduce young Burt into her and her husband's hare-brained
scheme to...well, it's all a little foggy, really. I guess they wanted
Burt to do all the heavy lifting and to fend off the shark on their
treasure hunt but seeing as there is nary a scene with a real maneater
anywhere near Burt (all of the big Shark footage is painfully obvious
unmatching stock material) you'll have to use your imagination. Arthur
Kennedy is actually interesting...given the horrendous standards of
everything else, he's probably the best thing in this soggy fish story.
One of the biggest mistakes of the story (perhaps necessitated by the non-existent budget) is that so much of the movie concerns the recruitment of Burt rather than the actual shark attack and undersea footage. Frankly, it's very boring to see all the lengthy and talky scenes in a bar and stunning to see it in the usually laconic and better-paced Fuller's work. Burt does have limited charm but somehow he's just wasted. Amazing to think that only three years later Reynolds would give the remarkably nuanced and charismatic performance of his life in the mind-blowing DELIVERANCE. He sure doesn't seem to have a clue here. There might be a certain level of camp value here but somehow even that doesn't quite come off. I guess I can't think of anyone I would recommend this to except for die-hard Burt fans. And are there any of those left after STRIPTEASE, etal? Skip this one and re-watch JAWS or THE NAKED KISS.
Considering this film's pedigree, it wasn't surprising that it wasn't very good. Despite having the very famous and economical Sam Fuller directing the film, he and the producers had a falling out and they finished and edited it without him. Naturally, Fuller was irritated with having his name on the film--and it's clearly not among his best work. But, what from this movie IS his and what isn't? The film is about a rich jerk (Barry Sullivan) who wants to excavate a treasure using scuba equipment. The problem is, that it's in a shark-infested area and it's VERY risky. So, he gets the assistance of the very macho gun-runner (Burt Reynolds) by not telling him the full extent of the danger. Despite being an undersea film, the scuba shots really aren't very good and the film is muddy and cheap looking. While the three male leads (Burt Reyholds, Sullivan and Arthur Kenedy) are decent, none of the three have much personality--at least not enough to make the plot more interesting. All in all, a rather listless film that had me wondering repeatedly 'is it over yet?!'. Not worth your time unless you are a Sam Fuller completist--even then, you may want to skip this one.
Stranded American with dubious origins takes a job as a deckhand aboard
the vessel of a marine biologist and his attractive assistant as a
means to escape the Sudan. Amid all the fisticuffs and double-crossing,
a few people are mauled by a rogue shark. Ostensibly a sunken treasure
picture, this film was notorious at the time of its release after one
of the stunt divers was fatally mauled by a supposedly sedated shark,
but this notoriety doesn't warrant any serious speculation into the
film itself, which lacks excitement.
Burt Reynolds as the gun-running Caine, while affable, isn't given the dialogue to make a memorable impression, while his supporting cast (some of distinction), also labour pointlessly with limited material. Mexican based actress Silvia Pinal is visually striking, but her characterisation is a muddled contradiction of sympathy and cruel indifference (that perhaps is not attributable to her interpretation, but the standard of the script).
The scenery is uninteresting, the minor players are obscure and hollow (with the exception of Runt, the cheeky, cigar smoking Mexican boy whom Caine befriends) and the sight and sound elements are amateurish. Director Fuller reportedly was so ambivalent about the movie, he distanced himself to the point of requesting his name be removed from the credits (which was declined). Despite this, Fuller's appreciation of film noir is evident in the characterisations, dialogue and staging, which at times, is strangely reminiscent of a film noir.
Though the title "Shark" bares some (scant) relevance to the plot, it's hardly a campaign of terror; three mangled corpses does not one shark movie make. Reynolds spends most of his time fighting, shaving and berating poor old Arthur Kennedy for being a hopeless drunk. In the end, everyone gets their comeuppance to varying degrees; some in the jaws of an unimpressive (in terms of threatening appearance, perhaps two metres at most) shark, others in more subtle fashion. Perhaps inspection of the novel on which this so-called film is based ("His Bones Are Coral" by Victor Canning) might glean some light on just why some distinguished film-makers elected to participate in such a mediocre picture.
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