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BURT REYNOLDS STARS/DIRECTS THE NEO NOIR 'SHARKY'S MACHINE'

Title: SHARKY'S MACHINE Year: 1981 Rating: ****

Although Burt Reynolds' box office rival Clint Eastwood deemed SHARKY'S MACHINE "Dirty Harry in Georgia," it's actually a spiritual remake of the film noir LAURA where a cop falls for a mysterious woman who was supposedly murdered by a killer using a shotgun at her apartment door — but turns out being another dame entirely...

And before all that, Reynolds goes from a risky narc officer... whose opening drug deal turns into a solid city shootout... to one of several vice squad members in the shabby and neglected police headquarters-basement; and their first gig busting whores at a political rally with the two coolest characters, not including Burt, also the director... and with a skin-diver's cut instead of his usual distracting toupee, he hasn't been this legit since DELIVERANCE...

Bernie Casey in SHARKY'S MACHINE

His partners are philosophical black giant Bernie Casey and gruff yet affable Brian Keith, who both unfortunately get drowned-out by otherwise dependable Charles Durning's horrendous over-the-top turn as the cliche screeching captain who seems part of an actor's workshop... and also miscast is tall and lanky Richard Libertini (soon as the newspaper editor from FLETCH)...

An annoyingly contrived comic-relief techie in sequences that take up most of the first half, involving a wiretap building-to-building stakeout... panning out more realistically to how cops deal with long dreary hours than the usual Reynolds flick relying on non-stop car chases and gun-blasting action...

Burt Reynolds in SHARKY'S MACHINE

The latter which does happen on occasion and includes kung fu assassins; a crooked cop behind just about everything run by sophisticated millionaire mobster Vittorio Gassman, owning both a crooked senator and our lovely ingenue in hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold Rachel Ward, whose eventual/inevitable affair with Reynold's Sharky blends smoothly with the gritty mainline... 

But the deadliest heavy is the overall scene-stealer, gunman Henry Silva, the bigwig's crazy, drug-addled brother, more like a slasher flick monster providing intense 1970's-style exploitation to an early-80's cop melodrama that perhaps should have been SHARKY'S trio instead of MACHINE, which gets too busy, crowded and dialog-heavy throughout the slightly overlong run-time — yet still packs a wallop, and then some.

Henry Silva in SHARKY'S MACHINE
Bernie Casey in SHARKY'S MACHINE
Bernie Casey in SHARKY'S MACHINE with Charles Durning
Rachel Ward in SHARKY'S MACHINE
Rachel Ward in SHARKY'S MACHINE
Burt Reynolds in SHARKY'S MACHINE
Earl Holliman as the crooked politician in SHARKY'S MACHINE
Earl Holliman autograph of the LP for SHARKY'S MACHINE
Vintage paperback by William Diel for SHARKY'S MACHINE
Source novelist William Diel pimp cameo for SHARKY'S MACHINE
Burt Reynolds from SHARKY'S MACHINE
Burt Reynolds from SHARKY'S MACHINE
Clifton Webb in LAURA and Henry Silva from SHARKY'S MACHINE
Realizing-the-girl's-alive-sequence from LAURA and SHARKY'S MACHINE
Rachel Ward in SHARKY'S MACHINE
Rachel Ward in SHARKY'S MACHINE
Burt Reynolds in SHARKY'S MACHINE
Rachel Ward in SHARKY'S MACHINE
Japanese Poster for SHARKY'S MACHINE
Burt Reynolds in SHARKY'S MACHINE
Bernie Casey in SHARKY'S MACHINE with Brian Keith
Burt Reynolds in SHARKY'S MACHINE
Burt Reynolds in SHARKY'S MACHINE

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