**/**** Image B+ Sound B Extras B
starring Robert Shaw, Jacqueline Bisset, Nick Nolte, Eli Wallach
screenplay by Peter Benchley and Tracy Keenan Wynn, based on Benchley's novel
directed by Peter Yates
by Bryant Frazer English cinematographer Christopher Challis got his start working on newsreels and travelogues before getting a gig with Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's production company, The Archers. There, he worked on a team with the great Jack Cardiff before serving as the DP on The Tales of Hoffmann, a lush Technicolor envisioning of the Jacques Offenbach opera. While Challis isn't among the best-known directors of photography, his technical facility kept him in demand for the next 40 years. He shot films for Stanley Donen, Carol Reed, and Blake Edwards, but there may have been no movie where his sense of colour and light was more critical than on The Deep. Rushed into production at Columbia Pictures to capitalize on the success of Jaws, another seafaring adventure based on a Peter Benchley novel, The Deep has a humdrum story, generally uncommitted performances, and a phoney Moray eel (nicknamed "Percy" on set) that gives the much-maligned mechanical shark "Bruce" from Jaws a run for its money in the department of unconvincing animal attacks. Yet the quality of the imagery is something else.