Two things instantly struck me about Sharkey’s Machine (1981); number 1 was that it felt like a remake of the movie Laura (1944), which I loved, because the lead character in each, a detective, falls in love with the murder victim when they are trying to solve the cases only to find the woman they thought were the murder victims, were alive and well. Pretty interesting plot and I felt Sharkey’s Machine had a tone more like a modern day film noir than what Burt Reynolds kept calling “Dirty Harry in Atlanta” in the 80’s.
The second thing that struck me is the writer is William Diehl, who would go on to write the incredible movie, Primal Fear (1996) with Richard Gere and an unknown Edward Norton…who was so good in it, he was robbed of an Academy Award! Aaron Stampler is such a devious character, Diehl ended up writing 2 sequels Reign in Hell and Show of Evil (both are good books), and Stampler seems to rank up there with Hannibal Lecter for me as far as evil literary creations go.
So now there are some other really great things about this movie, Rachel Ward’s debut for one, Burt Reynolds moody and awesome directing for another, incredible supporting cast with Brian Keith, Charles Durning, Bernie Casey, Henry Silva, Earl Holliman and Richard Libertini and of course who can forget about the incredible high fall by Dar Robinson at the end of the movie!
Dar Robinson, doubling for Henry Silva, drops 220 feet into an airbag from the Hyatt Regency Downtown, which at the time was a world record for the highest wireless freefall from a building. It really is a great stunt, and the behind the scenes stunt footage is really impressive. Which is all the more baffling when you watch the movie and halfway through the fall they cut to a long shot of what is obviously a DUMMY falling from the building. Why they didn’t use the whole jump in the movie is beyond me.
People to research on IMDB:
- Burt Reynolds
- Dar Robinson
- Henry Silva
- Charles Durning
- William Diehl
- Brian Keith
- Rachel Ward