Sunday, June 21, 2015

Jaws Re-Release

Photo: The iconic movie poster, from the movie's Wikipedia page.

I saw the re-release of Jaws at a local Showcase Cinema today--the kind where there's a waitress and you can order from a menu.  Nice, but weird.  Very few people ordered anything; but two who did were, of course, sitting beside me, and had the poor waitress running up and down the aisle in front of me all night.  Grrrrrrrr...

But the movie was worth it.  The film holds up very well after all these years--40 of them!!!  And, no, I didn't see this movie when it first came out, as that was a bit before my movie-going time.

And so a few quick thoughts:

--I'm not sure Jaws could be made today, and I mean that as a slap to today's movie-going public.  It has too few shocks, and they're built up with very solid character-building and reality-defining that unfortunately take quite a bit of time.

--The running time of about 2.5 hours is just a bit too long for a horror movie today.  Fantasy / sci-fi pics--Yes, those can still be long, especially if there's a lot of special effects.

--A character-sketch horror movie just wouldn't fly today.  The Exorcist could be thrown in here, too.

--Jaws the shark (or Bruce, if you're in the know) was effectively handled as Stoker handled Dracula: More scary the less you see him.  If you read the original Dracula, you'll notice you see the Count frequently in the beginning and in the end, and only fleetingly in the middle.

--I remembered that Hooper's heart was broken my Mary Ellen Moffat, because I'm messed up like that.  I also knew the shark's name was Bruce, and that the book's author--Peter Benchley--was the reporter on the beach.  But those last two are common.  But Mary Ellen Moffat?  That's messed up.

--Roger Ebert loved it in 1975.  Gene Siskel didn't.  Like, at all.

--I have the autograph of Susan Backlinie, who was Chrissie, the famous blonde attack victim in the opening.  And so when I had a conversation with someone about it, I said, "That's Susan Backlinie," and I got a weird look.  She was at a recent convention in Providence.  You can see a lot of props from Jaws at one of my past blog entries about the convention:

--I read today that Quint's place was the only set made for the film.  Everything else was on location.

--Mostly in Martha's Vineyard, of course.

--Spielberg returned to this area to shoot Amistad in Newport.  I know---I was an extra.

--I spoke to him a little bit.  Fascinating guy.  Wore a super-heavy winter jacket in the super-hot Newport courthouse, with all the lights, cameras, and everything else generating even more heat.

--Robert Shaw was the fourth actor offered the role.  He and Richard Dreyfuss apparently did not get along.

--Shaw's Indianapolis monologue was improvised, as was Orson Welles's famous "Cuckoo Clock" monologue from The Third Man.  I wouldn't be surprised if Marlon Brando's in Apocalypse Now was, too.

--Peter Benchley wrote some articles a few years after Jaws came out, explaining how harmless great whites really are, and how most of their attacks are accidents.  I'm gonna guess he cashed all the book and movie royalty checks first.  I'm so young, yet so cynical.

--3 Biggest Differences Between Book and Film: In the book, Hooper's character gets killed by the shark, gets an arrow through the neck while in the shark's mouth, and sleeps with Brody's wife.


  1. I might be showing my age, but I can't imagine seeing this in a cinema. It was bad enough seeing it at a slumber party u, hiding behind the lounge, and getting in trouble for us all screaming the house down lol
    Talk about a classic movie

    1. That sounds like it was fun!

      Yeah, it doesn't get more classic than this. And it has the all-time slap-ready politician, the mayor. "As you know, Amity means friendship." And let the record show that a prolific tv show producer--he produced House, but I forget his name--had a line from Jaws as his byline when his company's icon showed. The line was: "That's some bad hat, Harry."