(upon reading of the death of movie mogul Richard Zanuck, it seems timely to dust off a three-post running diary of a viewing of Jaws – which Zanuck produced – that appeared here a couple years ago…)
Thirty-fiveThirty-seven years ago, almost to the week, Jaws was released. Had Paloma known of this milestone and, given my fascination with the film, she would have likely baked a cake for me.
I was seven when the movie became a national phenomenon and, the first time a commercial aired, my mom adamently declared that I wouldn’t be seeing it.
(my younger brother was the one that had been traumatized by some horror movie, yet I, too, was subject to this edict)
It undoubtedly would have wigged me out, but, knowing that I now can watch it any time I wish proves that living well is the best revenge.
The movie is one that I’ve often popped into the DVD player on hot, summer evenings to feel refreshed by the images of beaches and surf.
So, as my recent plea has gone unanswered and I know of no virgin to hurl into a volcano, it’s starting now…
0:39 The names Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss appear on the screen. I tell myself to savor this moment as those names will be Keanu Reaves, Will Farrell, and one of those Disney kids when the inevitable remake arrives.
(here’s hoping December 21, 2012 arrives first)
3:02 If you go for a pre-dawn swim out to a buoy in the ocean, you have now put yourself square in the path of natural selection.
7:16 Just watching Brody cruise along the ocean on his morning drive to work is refreshing. I can almost feel the cool, clean air. This is merely one reason that this movie is infinitely watchable to me.
8:32 Skinny-dipping girl’s remains are found on the beach. I finally saw Jaws a year after it was in the theaters. It aired on CBS on a Sunday night and this scene inspired the popular joke with my second-grade friends which asked, “How do you know that girl had dandruff?”
The shark left her “head and shoulders.”
10:21 There’s something about an octogenerian wielding a bicycle tire, yammering about karate that makes Amity a place that I think I’d like to live.
12:13 The mayor is wearing a sports jacket adorned with a pattern of tiny anchors and is decidely pro-business.
(probably to be expected when you elect a mayor that wears a sports jacket adorned with a pattern of tiny anchors)
17:13 The Kintner kid goes down in a gusher of gore. Paloma walked into the room, simply said, “That’s a lot of blood,” and went back to bed.
20:45 And we have Quint – who was fixed in my second-grade brain as the image that would come to mind when hearing the phrase “crusty, old salt.”
24:30 My friend Rob always worked in our record store’s video department on Sunday nights where he would play Jaws repeatedly his entire shift. The scene with the two codgers fishing for the shark using a pot roast was always a favorite…
27:43 …but not as much as The Harbormaster. The Harbormaster wanders out of his harbormaster hut, smoking a pipe and carrying breakfast, sits down, and digs into a bowl of Corn Flakes.
(all for little apparent reason)
30:52 The regatta of idiots is on as fisherman from everywhere come to hunt the shark, including one dynamite-wielding fisherman that resembles Liam Gallagher.
34:33 Richard Dreyfuss sets the villagers straight – including one who looks like ex-football coach Bill Parcells – on the shark that they’ve caught. In a span of two years, Dreyfuss would battle a great white shark and chase aliens to the hinterlands of Wyoming in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.
This cat was more badass than Shaft.
43:26 After plying Scheider with a bottle of red, Dreyfuss and the Chief perform, to quote Mayor Tiny Anchor, a “half-assed autopsy” on the shark. I held my breath as a kid, expecting, like the mayor, “that Kintner boy to spill out onto the dock.”
And so, Brody, Hooper, and I head out for a nighttime cruise to search for the shark…
Had Hooper turned on the radio for a little mood music, here are four songs that were on Billboard ‘s chart during this week in 1975…
Michael Murphey – Wildfire
from Blue Sky – Night Thunder (1975)
I wasn’t listening to music in 1975 aside from what I’d hear on the radio in the car, but I do remember hearing Wildfire. How could I not?
Before the first chorus, a young girl is dead and “the pony she called Wildfire” is lost in a blizzard.
Oh, the carnage.
Between hearing this song and seeing Old Yeller, would my parents letting me see a movie about a killer great white shark really been that traumatic?
Pilot – Magic
from Have A Nice Decade: The ’70s Pop Culture Box (1998)
I don’t remember hearing Magic back in the day, but I do recall that it seemed to pop up on every K-Tel Records compilation that I’d see advertised on television before that label went bust.
Written by one-time Bay City Roller David Paton, the perky song – which is easy to imagine blaring from transistor radios on the beaches of Amity – was produced by Alan Parsons.
(years later, Paton would provide vocals on a number of songs by the Alan Parsons Project as well as playing bass)
Ace – How Long?
from Sounds Of The Seventies: 1975 (1990)
I must have heard this song during the summer of ’75 as I hear it and immediately associate it with summer. It’s a classic pop song and its laid-back melody and Paul Carrack’s soulful vocal performance is perfectly suited for lazy summer days.
And knowing that the song is actually about a band member who was secretly performing with other groups and not about a romantic relationship gone sour makes the song a bit more lighthearted.
10cc – I’m Not In Love
from Have A Nice Decade: The ’70s Pop Culture Box (1998)
Over at Echoes In The Wind, one of our favorite reads, they’ve been compiling the selections for their Ultimate Jukebox. If I were to do the same, I suspect that I’m Not In Love would be a strong contender to make the cut.
Dreamy and lush, it’s a beautiful song that’s also borderline creepy, a vibe which The Police would successfully conjure up not quite a decade later with Every Breathe You Take.
“Jaws” remains the only movie I have ever stood in line to see, with my cousin, sometime shortly after it opened in the summer of 1975, outside what was then the Esquire Theater here in Madison, WI. As potent as it can be on TV, the effect of it on the big screen was something else again. We were blown back in our seats like we were on a roller coaster. Not for nothing is it considered the original summer thrill ride/blockbuster.
Have they ever done a re-release of Jaws to theaters? I’d think that it might do well with a sizeable number of folks who never got the opportunity to see it on a big screen.
(and, coincidentally, as I type there is a story on the televison about a great white attack in Australia)
I worked in a record store in college with a guy that had done time for armed robbery. He would wistfuly recount targeting theaters during Jaws‘ run, knowing that the box ofice would be flush with cash.
I was too young to see Jaws, but your music choices caught my eye. Throw in Listen To What The Man Said and you have my soundtrack for the Summer of 75
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