The huge success of the film adaptation of Peter Benchley's best selling novel Jaws had studios clamoring for the rights to bring another Benchley novel to the silver screen before the buzz over Jaws died down. Two years after Jaws, Columbia would bring us The Deep, hoping for success with the film's ties to Benchley, while at the same time, Paramount was debuting Orca and trying to capture the killer beast in the water magic that was so successful with Jaws. Neither was very successful in their efforts to ride the coattails of the shark.
Aside from the Peter Benchley connection, the only thing The Deep had in common with Jaws was salt water and Robert Shaw. Instead of a big killer shark, we have more of a psychological drama in which much of the action takes place under the surface of the ocean.
Jacqueline Bisset and Nick Nolte play a couple of divers who accidently discover sunken treasure off the coast of Bermuda. They find an experienced treasure hunter, Robert Shaw (who is pretty much the same character as he was as Quint in Jaws). They want the treasure for themselves, but alas, it won't be that easy. There are some drug smugglers whose stash has also been stumbled upon by our diver friends. There is intrigue and danger, and once the drug kingpin (played by Louis Gossett, Jr.) learns about the treasure, he wants that as well as the special bottle of his that the divers discovered and won't give back.
The movie was never able to capture blockbuster status, but it accomplished two things during its run on the movie screen. It gave us Jacqueline Bisset in a wet t-shirt, starting the wet t-shirt craze that continues to this day. It also started a parade of people towards the water who wanted to learn how to dive so they could have exciting adventures as well.
The film has some interesting twists and isn't as predictable as most Hollywood fare. Sometimes you can catch it on cable on Sunday afternoons, which is the best time to watch it (not great by any means, but interesting enough to keep your attention). A good movie to drink rum with. Some fried clams, shrimp or calamari is also an excellent complement.