Sharky's Machine (1981)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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A William Diehl novel was the source of the noirish nailbiter Sharky's Machine. Sharky (Burt Reynolds) is an undercover cop who fouls up an assignment and is kicked downstairs to the vice squad -- a rough-shod bunch of hellraisers who make life miserable. Soon, however, Sharky's life does a 180 when he encounters Dominoe (Rachel Ward) a prostitute seemingly in danger from her interaction with a number of very seedy thugs. To protect her, Sharky lines the high-rise apartment across from her residence with security cameras and surveillance equipment -- which only makes matters sticky as Sharky begins to fall in love with her. The film opened to a very warm critical reception (Janet Maslin observed that "Burt Reynolds establishes himself as yet another movie star who is as valuable behind the camera as he is in front of it"). It also features one of the most dangerous stunts on film, wherein the late stuntman Dar Robinson free falls from 16 stories off the ground. The "machine" of the title refers to Sharky's fellow cops, played by heavyweights Brian Keith, Charles Durning, Bernie Casey, and others.
Action & Adventure , Mystery & Suspense
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Burt Reynolds
as Sgt. Tom Sharky
Vittorio Gassman
as Victor Scorelli
Rachel Ward
as Dominoe
Earl Holliman
as Hotchkins
Henry Silva
as Billy Score
as Highball
Joseph Mascolo
as Joe Tipps
Hari Rhodes
as Highball Mary
John Fiedler
as Barrett
John Arthur
as Pusher
Joe Mascolo
as Joe Tipps
Val Avery
as Det. Ted Roper
Suzee Pai
as Siakwan
Arika Wells
as Tiffany
Tony King
as Kitten
Aarika Wells
as Tiffany
Dan Inosanto
as Chin #1
Weaver Levy
as Chin #2
Glynn Rubin
as Pregnant Woman
James Lewis
as Police
Scott Newell
as Police
Glynn Ruben
as Pregnant Woman
Bennie Moore
as Bus Driver
Alveda King Beale
as Bus Rider
Gayle Davis
as Bus Rider
Atim Kweli
as Bus Rider
Brenda Bynum
as Aging Hooker
Gus Mann
as Flasher
Elaine Falone
as Hooker
Wanda Strange
as Hooker
Johnny Arthur
as Pusher
Mary Beth Busbee
as Woman at Garden Party
J. Don Ferguson
as Rally Emcee
Monica Kaufman
as Newscaster
Dave Michaels
as Newscaster
Wes Sarginson
as Newscaster
Forrest Sawyer
as Newscaster
Colonel Beach
as Security Officer
Danny Nelson
as Man with Mabel
Sue Cockrell
as Victor's Girl
Lisa Marie Hall
as Victor's Girl
Pam Newman
as Victor's Girl
April Reed
as Victor's Girl
Susan Williamson
as Victor's Girl
Diana Szlosberg
as Girl with Kitten
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News & Interviews for Sharky's Machine

Critic Reviews for Sharky's Machine

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (1)

Violent noir crime drama.

Full Review… | May 30, 2016
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Would be laughable if not for its intensity of romanticism

Full Review… | April 1, 2010

A tough, gritty and occasionally sadistic police thriller with director/star Burt Reynolds in peak form.

October 9, 2005
Fantastica Daily

Burt at top of his game both in front of and behind the camera.

December 31, 2004
Nolan's Pop Culture Review

Better-than-average cop film with one legendary stunt at the end.

December 16, 2004
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Quote not available.

July 16, 2005

Audience Reviews for Sharky's Machine

Burt Reynolds stars and superbly directs this atmospheric, volatile cop thriller which is one of most engrossing and stylish of the early 80s, concerning a Atlanta cop named Sharky, played with a solid conviction by Burt Reynolds, who is at his charismatic best here. His gung-ho tactics on a narcotics case gets a civilian shot which gets him demoted to the Vice Squad, there he forms a colorful crew into a machine aimed at bringing down a powerful cimelord named Victor D'Anton, played with a silky elegance by the late Vittorio Gassman, who has his hooks into a gubernatorial candidate named Hotchkins, nicely played by Earl Holliman. The beautiful and super sexy Rachel Ward wonderfully plays Dominoe, a $1000 a night hooker that has enough dirt on both the crimelord Victor and his puppet Hotckins to put them away for good, which has put her life in danger. Sharky is staking out her penthouse apartment with his crew, he is protecting her but also slowly falling for her. The superlative supporting cast all deliver outstanding characterizations they include Brian Keith, the late great Charles Durning, Bernie Casey, Darryl Hickman, Richard Libertini, John Fiedler and Val Avery. Special kudos must be given to Henry Silva, for his truly creepy performance as Victor's psychotic, drug-addicted hit-man brother. Astute direction by Reynolds, with dazzling cinematography by the late William A. Fraker. There is a great amount humor along with some brutal and superbly-staged action sequences including shoot-outs, an all out fight with a pair of ninja assassins on a houseboat, and a hair-raising torture scene. The film also features a superb urban jazz soundtrack that includes songs and music by Sarah Vaughan, The Crusaders, Doc Severinson, Chet Baker, The Manhattan Transfer and Julie London. A gritty and riveting rollercoaster of a crime drama. . Highly Recommended.

Danny Rovira
Danny Rovira

Super Reviewer


This cop movie has a lot of action and excitement, and it's got good cinematography. I was surprised that Reynolds directed it himself. Did anyone else notice that they stole the love story from the movie Laura (1944)? That was the only thing that distracted me from the rest of the story. Reynolds does a pretty good job as a cop, but the performance I liked most was Silva, he is so creepy! Overall, this movie is pretty good, if you like action packed cop thrillers, see it.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


Burt Reynold's Direct's and star's in this great Cop film, Reynold's play's the Sharkey of the title, who is a tough cop whilst working in undercover a drug bust goes wrong, and is demoted to vice, The machine of the title refer's to the motley crew Reynold's's assemble's to bring down a crooked governor who is involved in high class prostitution Cocaine and contract murder, The motley crew is played by Brian Keith, Blackploitaion favorite Bernie Casey, Richard Libertini,(as alway's quirky as an ace sounds-man) Charle's Durning, as the chief, The beautiful English rose Rachael Ward play's Dominoe a $1000 dollar's a night hooker whom Reynold's's protect's and eventually fall's for, When staking out an apartment used by the governor. Italian actor Vittorio Gassman, play's the High stake's pimp, who has a deadly gang of triad's at his disposal, And Henry DeSilva, play's His psychotic brother hit man who is highly strung On prescription painkiller's and angel Dust, The action packed finale see's the remaining member's of the 'Machine' Engaged in a deadly shootout with Desilva, which culminate's in one the Most spectacular stunt's ever put to Celluloid, Alas Hollywood has ran out of idea's and is contemplating a remake of Sharky's Machine! Why bother a 25th Anniversary Special Edition DVD would be ideal, not a silly ass remake,

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

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