Sharky’s Machine (1981)

Sharky's Machine (1981)

Tom Sharky is a narcotics cop in Atlanta who’s demoted to vice after a botched bust. In the depths of this lowly division, while investigating a high-dollar prostitution ring, Sharky stumbles across a mob murder with government ties, and responds by assembling his downtrodden fellow investigators (Sharky’s “machine”) to find the leaders and bring them to justice before they kill off all his partners and witnesses, including Sharky himself.

Sharky’s Machine is a 1981 American drama thriller film directed by Burt Reynolds, who stars in the title role. It is an adaptation of William Diehl’s first novel Sharky’s Machine (1978), with a screenplay by Gerald Di Pego. It also stars Vittorio Gassman, Brian Keith, Charles Durning, Earl Holliman, Bernie Casey, Henry Silva, Darryl Hickman, Richard Libertini, Rachel Ward, and Joseph Mascolo.

About the Story

Tom Sharky (Burt Reynolds), a narcotics Sergeant for the Atlanta Police Department, is working on a transaction with a drug dealer called Highball (Hari Rhodes). Another member of the force, Smiley (Darryl Hickman), shows up unexpectedly during the sting, causing the drug dealer to run and Sharky to give chase, ultimately shooting the suspect on a MARTA bus, but only after the wounding of the bus driver. In the aftermath, Sharky is demoted to vice-squad, which is considered the least desirable assignment in the police department.

In the depths of the vice-squad division, led by Friscoe (Charles Durning), the arrest of small-time hooker Mabel results in the accidental discovery of a high-class prostitution ring that includes a beautiful escort named Dominoe (Rachel Ward) who charges $1,000 a night. Sharky and his new partners begin a surveillance of her apartment and discover that Dominoe is having a relationship with Hotchkins (Earl Holliman), a candidate running for governor.

With a team of downtrodden fellow investigators that includes veteran Papa (Brian Keith), Arch (Bernie Casey) and surveillance man Nosh (Richard Libertini), referred to by Friscoe sarcastically as Sharky’s “machine,” he sets out to find where the trail leads. During one of the stakeouts, a mysterious crime kingpin known as Victor (Vittorio Gassman) comes to Dominoe’s apartment. He has been controlling her life since she was a young girl, but now she wants out. Victor agrees but forces her to have sex with him one last time.

Sharky's Machine Movie Poster (1981)

Sharky’s Machine (1981)

Directed by: Burt Reynolds
Starring: Burt Reynolds, Rachel Ward, Vittorio Gassman, Brian Keith, Charles Durning, Bernie Casey, Darryl Hickman, Hari Rhodes
Screenplay by: Gerald Di Pego
Production Design by: Walter Scott Herndon
Cinematography by: William A. Fraker
Film Editing by: William D. Gordean, Dennis Virkler
Costume Design by: Norman Salling
Set Decoration by: Phil Abramson
Music by: Snuff Garrett, Al Capps
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: December 18, 1981