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CORNEL WILDE & YAPHET KOTTO SEEK THE 'SHARKS' TREASURE'

There's not one bikini babe in all of SHARK'S TREASURE Year: 1975
Cornel Wilde's SHARKS' TREASURE, a Neo Noir in the Ernest Hemingway tradition of the TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT style, centers on machismo verses elements of the sea...

The title killer fish seems to be intentionally guarding a treasure of golden coins at a location that takes over half the film led by Wilde's semi-famous fortune hunter boatsman, Jim Carnahan, along with the map's bearer, a young man played by TERROR HOUSE actor John Neilson. Although Wilde had been a very good actor since playing the talky inside-man to Humphrey Bogart's in HIGH SIERRA followed by the likes of LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN, ROAD HOUSE and THE DEVIL'S HAIRPIN, it takes a talented Yaphet Kotto, as Ben, along with his Vietnam vet buddy Larry, played by sporadic BONANZA guest star David Canary, to make the picture more believable and intense...

Big Box VHS Cover Sharks' Treasure
Well that's the ship's party, and before TREASURE hits the three-fourths mark, the villains arrive: a band of escaped convicts, five of them, though herein only two need naming: Cliff Osmond is a tall, mustached, balding Spanish Alpha Male, cursed within a creepy, bullying love affair with a young blond man you just know was his bitch in a Texas prison where they'd escaped.

As an actor, Osmond's turned up as a goofball heavy in Disney movies, which this is anything but... And taking two to tango, Ray Milland's passive, sheepish FROGS grandson David Gilliam plays the put-upon blond punk involving the most bizarre and sadistic homosexual anti-romance occurs (a hybrid of DELIVERANCE and SHORT EYES)...

Meanwhile, the main four players, who, minutes earlier, were so full of life having just succeeded in finally locating and funneling-up the treasure, are busy dodging sharks by either outsmarting or killing them with spears (in scenes so callus and calculated, it would not allowed on film today), and a good deal of suspense relies on how quick those creatures are...

"This Ain't No Asshead Gamble"
So Al Giddings, the underwater photographer, must be given credit as this particular shark picture, while feeling like a pulpy fortune hunting programmer, looks as good as any documentary on the legendary menace of the deep: A horde of Tiger Sharks as opposed to one menacing Great White. Never have so many sharks looked so pointed, feisty and mean, and all in their natural habitat as opposed to cheating with stock images...

From SHARK'S TREASURE
With a slash of their tails and a quick bunt of their very sensitive nose area, they guard their territory in rapid numbers while the men, harder to discern underwater where plot means little compared to the sport of "sharking," turn into intrepid harpoon wielding hunters, doing what some viewers may find cruel and pointless when it's really just plain necessary. Especially dark and morbid is gothic row of dead sharks hooked from ropes, hanging in a sort of underwater gallows from the floaty balloons above.

So, overall, this forgotten lost TREASURE is a decent yarn despite suffering through many overlong scenes to get to the proverbial gold. Unlike Steven Spielberg's request to never show land, during this Third Act, while the boys are hand-tied and threatened, stretches of land are visible so we don't really feel completely out there like in JAWS. Once a bizarre sadistic fight occurs between the head baddie and his abused boytoy, things get so bizarre it's up to the film's writer/director, Wilde himself, to make things watchable again, bringing back the lean energy from his Film Noir days, remaining cool and calm while playing the long game, getting inside the head of the only vulnerable convict. The man's acting peaks during these 11th hour moments.

Preemptive Shark Hunting in Shark's Treasure SCORE: ***1/2
A few scenes, using literal inserted photographs of the treasure hunt after the initial discovery has been established (to the cool yet campy song titled "Money, Money"), seems like a cop-out shortct but looks creative and moves the story smoothly forward despite hitting a dead calm once the antagonists board...

There's some adventure during the climax but the most fun for the viewer take place during the first half where SHARK'S TREASURE is a bonafide oceanic treasure hunting flick that, like TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, has the men getting more uptight and then at each other's necks... particularly Wilde and his bitter employee Kotto, forced not to smoke on deck. The tension is more palpable between the four cohorts than the nine or so captives and captors. And while it's the epitome of an uneven picture, after a few viewings the jigsaw pieces together, and you may just find it a fulfilling experience at sea, deeply rooted even while in shallow regions.
The sharks of Cornel Wilde's SHARKS' TREASURE
The sharks of Cornel Wilde's SHARKS' TREASURE
Cornel Wilde aims tough in Sharks' Treasure
Caesar Cordova and Gene Borkan in Sharks' Treasure with Dale Ishimoto
Cornel Wilde writes, stars and directs Sharks' Treasure
Yaphet Kotto and David Canary in Sharks' Treasure
Cornel Wilde andYaphet Kotto in Sharks' Treasure
Cornel Wilde andYaphet Kotto in Sharks' Treasure
Cornel Wilde and John Neilson in Sharks' Treasure
Cornel Wilde and David Gilliam in Sharks' Treasure
Cornel Wilde, Yaphet Kotto, John Neilson and David Canary in Sharks' Treasure
Cliff Osmond and Gene Borkan in Sharks' Treasure
David Gilliam and  Roxanna Bonilla-Giannini in Sharks' Treasure
The sharks of Cornel Wilde's SHARKS' TREASURE
The sharks of Cornel Wilde's SHARKS' TREASURE
The sharks of Cornel Wilde's SHARKS' TREASURE
The sharks of Cornel Wilde's SHARKS' TREASURE
The sharks of Cornel Wilde's SHARKS' TREASURE
The sharks of Cornel Wilde's SHARKS' TREASURE
The sharks of Cornel Wilde's SHARKS' TREASURE
The sharks of Cornel Wilde's SHARKS' TREASURE
Cornel Wilde, Yaphet Kotto, John Neilson and David Canary in Sharks' Treasure
Cornel Wilde and John Neilson in Wilde's treasure thriller SHARKS' TREASURE
 Cornel Wilde a real end-of-the-world nut gives product placement in Shark's Treasure
The sharks of Cornel Wilde's SHARKS' TREASURE
The sharks of Cornel Wilde's SHARKS' TREASURE
Cornel Wilde and John Neilson in Wilde's treasure thriller SHARKS' TREASURE

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