Based on a novel by Jaws author Peter Benchley, The Deep was made to cash in on the success of the original blockbuster—which in its own way was a masterpiece. It was directed by Peter Yates, a good director who also did Bullett, The Friends of Eddie Coyle and Breaking Away, amongst others. Yates was one of the more prolific directors of the ‘70s.
Robert Shaw, who had of course been in Jaws, is back for this as a lighthouse-keeper and treasure-hunter. He interacts with a vacationing couple in Bermuda who find various things, including underwater treasure and morphine preserved in a WWII shipwreck. There’s a run-in with local criminals over the morphine and treasure. Nick Nolte and Jaqueline Bisset play the couple, David and Gayle.
It’s perfectly OK for a Sunday-afternoon adventure movie, but not particularly great. At times it’s a bit of a chore, and this isn’t even the TV-cut version. Around 21 minutes of deleted scenes are included. It’s such a wanna-be Jaws that even the poster is a clear homage to the iconic Jaws poster. There is even a scene where the protagonists have fight some sharks.
Everyone’s fine, with Shaw doing a slightly less extreme version of his Jaws character, Quint. Nolte was in his second lead role here, and was still at that point of trying to figure out his place in movies. The main reason it’s remembered is that the opening scene had Bisset in just a wet T-shirt and black bikini bottoms. Producer David Guber has said that T-shirt made him rich—the film was made for 8.5 million dollars and made around 100 million, which was an insane amount for a movie to earn at the time.
There’s a score by John Barry, best-known for his work on the Bond films, and it does have a very Bond feel. As this is the late 70s, there’s also a Donna Summer disco song over the end credits.
Kevin Loynes delivers a commentary, and there’s an interview with underwater art director Kevin Ackland-Snow, a 49-minute making-of documentary from 1977, the aforementioned deleted scenes, and a mini-magazine from Cinema Retro called The Deep: Film in Focus.