Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut:
SHARKY'S AND SHARKY'S MACHINE

Go to TOC for this film ( (which has also a statement on purpose and manner of analysis and a disclaimer as to caveat emptor and my knowing anything authoritatively, which I do not, but I do try to not know earnestly, with some discretion, and considerable thought).


When I was recently contacted about what turned out to be the true inspiration for the facade of Rainbow Fashions, that it was the old Patricia Field shop at 10 E. 8th Street in Greenwich, I noted that Kubrick kept the 10 address for the film, and how this 10 had a mirror across the street. Madame Jojo's jazz club, which was the inspiration for the Sonata Cafe, was at 8-10 Brewer Str. in London and once housed in the same building next the Number 10 Club. In the film, the Sonata Cafe neon is reflected in the windows of Rainbow Fashions. Though Bill has ridden from the Sonata to the Rainbow in a taxi, he has instead just crossed the street, and it is at this point in the film, with that reflection, that individuals generally begin to realize the repetitive nature of the streets, that Bill is walking through the same neighborhood over and over and that it is only wearing different dressings, or, as it were, costumes.

Coincidentally, an individual who worked for Patricia Field for 17 years, as the merchandising designer for her store windows at 8th Street, was Jojo Americo. Jojo Americo is not Madame Jojo.

Another incarnation of Rainbow Fashions is Sharky's coffee shop, where Bill takes refuge when he is followed after leaving Domino's. We observe in an exterior hall at Sharky's a Christmas decoration also seen at Victor's mansion so we are given the sense of linkages between these places, just as in the rear dressing room at Rainblow Fashions we see a rug that was observed in the dressing room in the apartment of Bill and Alice.

I'd never seen the film Sharky's Machine, but it came to mind when I realized we had, in effect, mirrored Jojos present. I don't know why Sharky's Machine came to mind, but I considered how I had never satisfactorily answered for myself, "Why is the coffee shop named Sharky's?" If a Jojo was found associated with both Rainbow Fashions and the Sonata club, would there be a Jojo associated with Sharky's? What was a well known Sharky's? The movie. I thought I may as well check out Sharky's Machine and see if it had a character named Jojo.

Absurdly, maybe down in my subsoncsious, the name Patricia Field linked over to Sally Field and Burt Reynolds and thus Sharky's Machine popped up in my mind. Absurdly, Sally Field played a nun in her early career, and in Traumnovelle the woman at the orgy wears apparel like that of a nun.

Sharkey's Machine does have a Jojo, a detective and friend of Sharky's who is murdered when he uncovers a police officer who also works for the mob.

There are a lot of movies out there with a character named Jojo. However, I find some similarities between these two very different movies that are interesting to note.

In the 1981 film, Sharky's Machine, Sharky is a narcotics detective who is bumped several floors down to Vice when an operation goes wrong and a civilian is killed. Jojo, Sharky's superior, literally walks him down the steps when he's making his physical move, but doesn't accompany him all the way down to Vice. He tells Sharky he doesn't think he needs the bullet proof vest he's carrying down with him, as "the last casualty they had in Vice was a suicide. You know what I mean?" As they enter a dark part of the stairwell, Jojo tells Sharky he'll never forget him, but that was as far as he would go. He says, "I mean, people go further, sometimes you never see them again, you know what I mean?"

Working Vice, Sharky uncovers a high-class prostitution ring which leads to his surveilling the apartment of a prostitute named Dominoe. We learn she has been controlled, since she was twelve years of age, by a mobster named Victor. When she tells Victor she'll no longer submit to him, it appears she is murdered by a hit man, Victor's brother. Instead, another woman was mistakenly shot, and Dominoe enters Sharky's protection.

In that film, Jojo is also killed when he discovers a fellow detective works as an informant for Victor. This detective is the one who had caused Sharky's downfall from Narcotics to Vice.

Both films deal with the discovery of women being victimized by a high class prostitution ring. In both films, there is a prostitute with the name of Domino(e), though in Eyes Wide Shut, Domino is a prostitute who works the street. In both films, a prostitute, in essence, comes back from the "dead"--Dominoe, who is discovered to not have been murdered, that another was mistakenly killed in her place, and Mandy, who Bill brings back from a drug overdose in Victor's bathroom. In Sharky's Machine it's Dominoe who Sharky desires to rescue. In Eyes Wide Shut, Bill immediately wants to rescue the Black Feather Woman at the orgy, who we later find was apparently Mandy, but identity confusion is part of the plot and Bill is never absolutely certain if Mandy is the Black Feather woman who dies by a drug overdose, perhaps suicide, though Bill suspects she has been killed. In certain respects, Sharky's Machine could be seen as closely related in spirit to Kubrick's Killer's Kiss, in which a washed-up boxer rescues a "taxi" dancer from a mobster. In both Killer's Kiss and Sharky's Machine there is a voyeuristic aspect, Sharky surveilling the prostitute and becoming fascinated by her, and eventually involved with her, while Davey lives across from Gloria and watches her through her open window, discovers her abuse when her blind is open, and also becomes involved with her. In Sharky's Machine, Dominoe, trafficked since she was twelve, is able to keep an integrity of self-possession by identifying herself as a dancer rather than a prostitute. In Killer's Kiss, Gloria has been a "taxi" dancer since she was a youth, but in her case it feels like a form of self-punishment due confusion and guilt over the suicide of her older sister, a ballet dancer forced to give up her art to care for her family by marrying an individual who could take care of them all financially.

As with Kubrick's Fear and Desire, in which the enemy against whom one is fighting turns out to bear one's own face, in these films we've an exploration of what marks the good from the bad and how the line between the two can be blurred. In Sharky's Machine, there's the obvious instance of Smiley, the two-faced detective who works also for Victor. But Sharky's motivations are also questioned. The misogynistic treatment of women is explored, how they are viewed, used, and "owned", through Sharky's surveillance, and his treatment of her when Dominoe comes under his protection. In an effort to get information from her, he slaps her around and realizes how this isn't different from the bad guys. He immediately wants to take physical possession of her, but has an awakening of sorts when he makes a move to kiss her, how if he did so he would be owning her, like Victor. Realizing the power imbalance, he backs off. Though the hit man murders several of Sharky's fellow detectives, Sharky's own responsibility for these deaths is called into question as these deaths may not have happened if not for Sharky's hubris. When hiding Dominoe, he personally seeks out Victor and for some reason, as if to spite him, ends up telling him that Dominoe is still alive. How would everything have played out if he had instead kept this a secret? Would his fellow detectives have ended up being killed?

The hit man is your near-indestructible type who is presented as otherworldly, demonic. He is spoken of as ghostly in the way he appears and disappears. He's even called "not real". In his final showdown with Sharky, he is back lit, entirely in silhouette. The hit man raises a gun to his head to commit suicide and deprive Sharky of the pleasure of killing him, but Sharky had promised a fellow detective he would kill him and he manages to shoot him first. It's a vengeance kill, but the movie doesn't explore the ethics of this. Obviously, however, we are supposed to think back on Sharky's descent to Vice and the warning that the only casualty in years had been a suicide. Perhaps the book makes clear how Sharky's fall to Vice and Jojo's suicide comment are related to Sharky depriving the hitman of his suicide shot, Sharky instead blasting him out a window so that he plummets from the hotel in a movie fall that is still famed. The film's next scene, it's final one, is of Dominoe dressed in a what simulates a school girl outfit--white shirt, blue tie, long blue skirt--swinging with Sharky on a school playground behind his house. The implication is that she has recovered a state of childhood innocence before Victor got ahold of her when she was twelve.

What about Bill? Wouldn't he feel guilt over a prostitute that he believes sacrificed herself for him? Doesn't he question his ethics over not calling the police over his belief that Milich appears to be prostituting his own daughter?

Let's suppose, then, just suppose that Kubrick was intentionally referring to and perhaps even drawing a bit from Sharky's Machine. Why? Why Sharky's Machine?

If you look back up at the lead-in image on the page you'll see Sharky with seven names listed before him. This is when he realizes he has stumbled onto a high-class prostitute ring and that these are the prostitutes. There are seven names. He immediately realizes each name has seven letters. Somehow, in a matter of microseconds he's able to deduce that A=2, D=3, R=7, I=4, and N=6. How? As my husband immediately pointed out to me, Sharky is decoding by how the numbers relate to the alphabet on an old phone keypad. Sharky announces that the names are all phone numbers, which leads to their wire tapping them.

Under Dominoe's name is the name Ophelia. A painting of John William Waterhouse's "Ophelia" is observed in the Sharky's coffee shop.

I hold that Kubrick had made use of 237 before The Shining, which I'll not get into here, but the number is all over Eyes Wide Shut. 237 is the street number of the Verona Restaurant at the end of the street where Bill takes refuge in Sharky's after the confrontation with the man who appears to have been following him. Also, when Bill arrives at the hospital to go see Amanda, we see the street number opposite is 236, which suggests the street number of the hospital is 237. A discreet instance of it is that 237 is the street number of the building that backs Victor's mansion on Madison Avenue.

Does Kubrick possibly direct us to Sharky's Machine because of its use of the number 237? I couldn't begin to say.

1900 words or 4 single-spaced pages. A 14 minute read at 130 wpm.

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