(director: Peter Yates ; screenwriters: Tracy Keenan Wynn/Peter Benchley novel The Deep and screenplay; cinematographer: Christopher Challis; editor: David Berlatsky; music: John Barry; cast: Robert Shaw (Romer Treece), Jacqueline Bisset (Gail Berke), Nick Nolte (David Sanders), Louis Gossett, Jr. (Henri Cloche), Eli Wallach (Adam Coffin), Robert Tessier (Kevin), Dick Anthony Williams (Slake), Earl Maynard (Ronald); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Peter Guber; Columbia Pictures; 1977)

The only thing deep about this thriller is the big budget.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The only thing deep about this thriller is the big budget. It’s adapted to the screen by Peter Benchley, from his 1974 novel of The Deep–a follow up of his debut novel Jaws. Tracy Keenan Wynn (Keenan’s son) was called in by producer Peter Guber to do a rewrite of the unacceptable script. It’s slickly directed by Peter Yates (“Bullitt”/”Eleni”), who makes it look too much like a commercial for Bermuda tourism and never gets to adequately explain the ridiculous plot. But I can’t blame Yates for this crappy film, when the screenplay is such a bummer. An unmarried young NYC couple Dave Sanders (Nick Nolte) and Gail Berke (Jacqueline Bisset) are on a scuba diving vacation in Bermuda. By accident they find the shipwreck of the Goliath and when telling others about it learn the World War II ship went down with a treasure of Spanish medallions and a cargo of morphine medicine. The sinister Haitian crime boss Henri Cloche (Louis Gossett, Jr.) threatens them and kidnaps Gail to find out details of their discovery. There’s also a voodoo ritual that goes with the kidnapping. But the gruff local treasure hunter Romer Treece (Robert Shaw) partners with the innocent couple and protects them from the drug traffickers. Unfortunately the old sea dog Adam (Eli Wallach), an old pal of Romer and the only crew survivor of the Goliath, is bought off by the Haitian and feeds him valuable info that puts the lives of Romer and the New Yorkers in danger. The plot is absurd, but the underwater photography by DP Christopher Challis is spectacular. Though the best thing about the movie for its male viewers was probably the opening scenes of Jacqueline Bisset in a wet T-shirt clinging to her bosom. For your music pleasure, Donna Summer croons the disco title song. For the thrill seekers, there’s that bit with the giant moray eel satisfying his hunger cravings on some bloke’s head. The trashy thriller was a success at the box office even though getting mostly poor reviews.