Cue John Williams…

July 14, 2012

(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.”

He doesn’t.

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.

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Take Your Stinking Paws Off My Heart, You Damn Dirty Apes!

April 16, 2011

Several days ago I wondered how audiences reacted upon first hearing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and, similarly, I can’t help but imagine what it must have been like to see the climatic scene of Planet Of The Apes in the theater.

I wasn’t even walking when the original Planet Of The Apes was released in 1968, so I ended up viewing it for the first time on television in the ’70s no doubt on the CBS Friday Night Movie.

Planet Of The Apes is a classic flick and the entire film series was fun as a kid. I mean, aren’t most kids fascinated by monkeys and apes?

They’re furry humans with the smaller ones like cartoons brought to life and capable of hijinks and shenanigans.

The larger ones could scale buildings and woo blondes.

The idea of apes running the planet was certainly a thought-provoking one to a kid.

As an adult, I see plenty of upside to the other primates having the chance to call the shots.

Their politicians wouldn’t be bought and paid for by corporations as what value could pieces of paper with images of long-dead humans have for apes.

Environmental issues would be taken seriously if actual monkeys were in charge.

It would also be socially acceptable to work without pants.

Plenty of upside.

But seeing the original Planet Of The Apes as a kid in pajamas sprawled out in front of the television was a riveting experience. I doubt that I stirred, mesmerized immediately by the trippy opening in space and the unusual, evocative and eerie title music by Jerry Goldsmith.

(and, if you saw the movie as a kid, weren’t you creeped out by the mummified corpse of Stewart, the female astronaut?)

The tension built as the astronauts slowly trekked across the desert, Charlton Heston opining on the condition of the world that they’d left behind and the sky flashing with strange lightning.

And then the apes arrived hunting the humans.

By the time that Lady Liberty makes her cameo, I was already wondering why I had to study for a spelling test the following week if the future was going to be spent being hunted by monkeys.

I was thrilled beyond repair to hear that Tim Burton would do a remake of Planet Of The Apes and felt sucker-punched as I watched his (or, perhaps, the studio’s) “re-imagining,” which had none of the suspense of the original.

The nine-year old in me kept a year-long vigil waiting for Burton’s movie to hit the theaters, making the actual viewing of it one of the most anti-climactic moments of my life.

I know that some time ago I had read/heard of another movie in the Planet Of The Apes series, but I banished the idea of another go ’round on the monkey planet to the dim recesses of my mind.

So I was surprised to hear of the August release of The Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.

I was inclined to want nothing to do with awkwardly-titled flick, shaking my head and pondering if people would even care about it despite the financial success of Burton’s version.

Then I vowed that I would not be drawn in.

And, then, I saw the trailer.

I’m not sure exactly when I finally got to see Planet Of The Apes. I do vividly recall being five or six, seeing a commercial for an airing of it, and being told in no uncertain terms by my parents that I wasn’t allowed to stay up and watch it.

However, I have no doubt that by 1975 the parents had finally acquiesced. Here are four songs that were on the charts from this week in 1975…

Ozark Mountain Daredevils – Jackie Blue
from Billboard Top Hits: 1975

The title character in Jackie Blue sounds like one confused girl, but I can’t help but think of pizza when I hear the song. It seems like every trip we made to Pizza Inn when I was eight resulted in one of the patrons putting down their money for Jackie Blue on the pizza joint’s jukebox.

I dug the song as a kid. It was catchy and mysterious, though, at the time, I mistook drummer Larry Lee’s falsetto for a female vocalist.

America – Sister Golden Hair
from Billboard Top Hits 1975

Paloma has long expressed the belief that our eldest cat, Sam, is fond of light rock from the ’70s, especially America and such stuff does seem to capture her attention when played.

As for America, I do remember hearing a number of their hits – A Horse With No Name, I Need You, Lonely People – when my parents would have the radio on during their ’70s heyday. Though the lyrics are a bit meh and the protagonist comes off as a bit of a wuss, I dig Sister Golden Hair‘s sunny melody and catchy chorus.

Michael Murphey – Wildfire
from Blue Sky – Night Thunder

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 talking apes hunting humans really been that traumatic?

David Bowie – Young Americans
from Young Americans

Though David Bowie’s Young Americans has oft been referred to as “plastic soul” which, according to Wikipedia, is a term coined by an unknown black musician in the 1960s, describing Mick Jagger as a white musician singing soul music, it’s plenty soulful if you ask me.

(undoubtedly aided by the legendary Luther Vandross providing backing vocals)

I was surprised to note the timeline of Bowie’s hits and note that Young Americans was only the singer’s second Top 40 hit in the States at the time. I’d not be surprised if, at the time, the idea of talking apes taking over the planet was less threatening a concept than David Bowie in middle America.


Cue John Williams…

June 27, 2010

Thirty-five 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.”

He doesn’t.

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

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

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

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

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.