If there were to be a pantheon of great film, Jaws could easily stand alone as being one of the greatest. When this movie arrived in theaters in 1975 there was no such thing as the “summer blockbuster”… and summer has never been the same.
Starring the late Roy Scheider, the late Robert Shaw and an impossibly young Richard Dreyfuss, Jaws broke every record in the books at the time and ushered in a new type of monster movie… a monster that was real. Granted, the depiction of the shark and it’s behavior are pure fiction and fantasy… but that fantasy was real enough so that almost anyone who saw it, as the tag line said, ‘You’ll never go in the water again!’ And for many, they didn’t.
Of course it is now legendary about how Spielberg couldn’t get the mechanical shark (nicknamed Bruce after his lawyer) to work so they had to shoot scenes without showing the shark itself… which in the end ratcheted up the fear… how Shaw couldn’t stay sober, yet helped in creating the famed U.S.S. Indianapolis monologue (shown below), that was in fact filmed over two days… one day he was drunk, the other day sober. Can you tell the difference?
There are more classic scenes in any 15 minute section of this movie than most films can boast in their entirety. After almost 40 years this movie not only holds up, it still excels in every way it did back when it was released. I dare you to not jump when Ben Gardner’s head pops out of the hull of his boat! Try not to squirm as Quint gets into the wrong end of the beast… and be somewhat repulsed at the meat hanging from the sharks teeth!
I was seven when my dad took me to see a re-release in the theater… I was scared shitless… and I have been a movie buff ever since. My love of film may have started with Star Wars… but it was cemented with Jaws. And if you haven’t seen it in recent years, do yourself a favor and make sure you see it on either Blu-Ray or DVD… seeing it in cropped VHS or TV presentations over the years have made the true cinematography whimper and hide. See this is all of it’s widescreen glory! It was the first widescreen formatted VHS tape I purchased way back when and made a convert of Mrs. Blahg to the widescreen format immediately upon seeing this movie that you know so well in a completely new way… almost like seeing it for the first time.
My oldest daughter is eight now… I’ve been holding off because of the fact that I don’t want to make her afraid of the ocean… but I think the time is right. Mind you, this was then and still is rated PG… seems a bit too liberal of a rating for my tastes seeing how it scares the bejesus out of most people… but I suppose if I survived it at seven, an eight year old girl can handle it (especially an eight year old who does love movies and calls out crappy effects quite regularly).
If you haven’t seen this movie in a while, treat yourself. If you have never seen it… what in the hell is wrong with you?! Buy it, rent it or stream it… just see this cllllllllassic film!
You’re going to need a bigger boat,
Cornelius J. Blahg