Archive for June 20th, 2010


Jaws, the 35th anniversary

June 20th 1975 Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” opened in theaters, and a fear of going to the beach swept the nation.  I was thirteen years old and lived on the outskirts of Phoenix Arizona, far from the surf and sun that made the coastal states a paradise from May to September. The Summer of 75 proved different for a shadow loomed across the beaches scaring people away by the thousands and into their local theaters instead. Jaws open to mass popularity and for many years was the worlds top grossing movie of all time. The ways of Arizona back in the day were all about what was going on locally for the most part, but a cinematic phenomena so big made it to the evening news. My dad and I were watching the late night news before the Friday night movie was about to begin and the news anchor started a story about how the beaches were empty and business’s were hurting and it was all due to a new motion picture about a Great White Shark that terrorizes a small New England community. footage of empty beaches filled the tiny screen and the story ended with a clip from the film. It was the scene where a shark hunter named Quint drags his fingernails across a chalkboard and offers his services to catch the great shark before the town and all it’s livelihood go into the drink. My dad and I looked at each other and said, Hey that looks like a movie we need to go and see! so the the next day we got my dad’s brothers and my cousin Tom together and headed off to the Mann’s Christown theater and little did I know that that one movie would change me forever. It was my first PG film so going from Bambi to a man eating shark was quite a jump., HAAA!  In those days I wasn’t big on names but I remembered my favorite TV movie from a few years earlier was a show called “Duel” by a director named Steven Spielberg, HMMMM his name was on the poster for “Jaws” as well, I thought to myself; It’s gonna be really great then if he made this one too. So around 7:00 the movie started and within the first 10 minutes I saw more forbidden and scary things than I had ever imagined!!! I saw my dad looking over my way thinking what have I brought my son too, so I tried really hard to act like I wasn’t scared so he would think he needed to take me home early. the movie played on and I remember the incredible music followed by horrific and beautiful imagery on the screen…  A particular moment was when a little boy on a raft gets the sharks attention and the build up and camera work was incredible,  Spielberg had such a gift very early on at building tension with merely camera placement and subtle dolly moves, Knowing now what I didn’t know then was that a great deal of the early scenes in the film were shark-less because the shark didn’t work!!! Being creative with what he did have, Spielberg cleverly composed the scenes so as to let your imagination fill in the gaps and in this case proved to be far more scary than some of the scenes where the shark is on film.. The Kintner boy on the raft segment ends in a terrifying manner with almost no shots of the shark but man did it leave and impression of an incredible danger that was just below the surface. The film travels forward as the Sheriff seams to be the only man in town concerned for the public and battles the politicians and business owners who feel summer $$$ are more important than lives. Sounds the kinda the same today, HAAAA! Anyways it’s not even an hour into the film and the tension was so high I almost couldn’t handle it! usually following a big attack scene Spielberg would write in a subtle bit of  humor to ease everyone down a bit. As far as the audience was concerned the next event was going to be big and we were all deafly silent in our seats. The City of Amity’s 4rth of July extravaganza filled the screen with boat loads, and traffic jams of people coming to have fun at the beach was next. All these scenes of happy UNKNOWING people flooding into town accompanied with a very peppy John Williams piece did nothing for us out in the darkened theater because we all knew what was out there under the water. My dad leaned over to me and asked how I was doing and if I wanted to go,,, NO, NO  Dad this is fine, I’m not scared at all, I saw him laugh to himself and sit back into his chair. On screen there was no one is in the water so the Mayor talks one of his council members to go into the water and reluctantly he and his family venture out into the surf. Thats all it took to get everyone on shore out into the water. I was terrified but I thought I’m safe until the music starts, funny thing though the tension was beginning and a lot of deep underwater shots started to fill the screen, and the uneasiness of the moment was getting stronger but there was no theme to bring the shark into the picture,,, More scared than I had been before a fin appears and the crowds flee the surf and my hands were gripping the armrests so tightly I was going numb. What !!! who got eaten??? did I miss something??? suddenly the fin enters the frame again and tips over to reveal it’s fake and a couple of kids in snorkel gear pop up surrounded by boatloads of men with guns pointing at them,,,, He made me do it, HE MADE ME DO IT, screams one of the two kids as the crowd breaks out in mad laughter. Our guards aren’t down for even a minute when another call about a shark is heard and that it’s heading into the pond where the Sheriffs kids are playing.  We all still think things are OK and it must be another joke until we see the massive dorsal and tail fin drop below the surface. I felt dizzy and the next scenes were forever scared into my memory for in the next attack we see the shark and IT”S HUGE. (Teddy Grossman) was the stunt man in this scene and is in a lot of Spielberg’s films following Jaws, but his death is one that cannot be described in any other words but horrifying!!! As if it wasn’t enough to see him get pulled off his boat and drug under the water, we see his bitten off leg drift to the bottom of the sea with his sneaker still on his foot!!!!I was truly weak, and it took a while for me to catch my breath. That scene even got to my Dad because I could fell him lighten up a lot after it was over. The movie moves on and justice is severed and the Sheriff is allowed to hire Quint to go out and catch the shark. Fantastic cinematography, and incredible performances follow as The towns only rational men (Quint, Hooper, and Brody) embark on a two day hunt to catch the Great White shark. the movie ends on a high note and my dad says; I bet you don’t ever want to see that one again haaa haa. I looked at him and said; I want to see it again, can we please stay!!!    NOOOOO son we can’t do that, maybe some other time!! So home we went and I did not sleep at all!!! I lived in the desert but I swore that Shark was going to get me if I went to sleep. exhausted the next day I begged my dad to take me again,, he finally did, MANY times as a matter of fact and we even saw it at the drive in a couple of times!!! This was way back before video so my friend Brian Siken and I went to the drive in so we could record the whole movies audio with our cassette recorders!!!, HAAA what fun that was!  Very fond memories of those days and I remember that after seeing Jaws something inside my tiny brain was forming a big idea, and that was that I wanted to some day work in the movies with Mr Spielberg. A couple of books came out about the making of the film, (The Jaws Log), and (the making of Jaws). they were both little soft back books full of cool pictures and drawings and Holy Cow I couldn’t believe the shark was fake!! He was a robotic creation and there were all these images showing the crew setting him up for his cameos.  I wanted even more to work in the movies when I saw all of this.. I had no idea that 10 years later that childhood dream would become a big reality.  Woah lots of great memories surround those 10 years but for now back to Jaws. There are few that haven’t seen this masterpiece or haven’t in some way been influenced by it. Director Bryan Singer for example named his production company “Bad Hat Harry” which is a throw away line from the film. Art Director Andrew Boughton, as well as a great deal of the art department for “Pirates of the Caribbean 4” rank it as not only a favorite film but as a major influence. 35 years later the film retains it’s status as a classic and one of Steven Spielberg’s finest films. During my early teen years My parents bought me my first record player and my first Movie soundtrack “Jaws” I watch this one at least once a year and it gets better with each viewing. The cast is incredible and the performances by Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, and Roy Scheider are flawless. They didn’t simply act for this one they were the characters we saw on the screen. The secondary cast, the editing, Cinematography and the fabulous mechanical Shark (named Bruce by the production team) are all masterfully realized on the screen. John Williams score, as with most of his compositions is legendary and Iconic as the underlying voice and soul of the film. Truly a work of art on all levels!!!! Thanks to my Dad for taking me to see Jaws so many times and to Mr Spielberg and all that created this incredible movie and to all of you Happy 35th Anniversary to your epic, JAWS”

Below are some highlights from the film courtesy of  Universal Pictures, be sure to check out the following link as well to an incredible behind the scenes documentary called “The Shark is still working” at,

the 1970's Universal logo

the deadly first 10 mins of the movie

this sums it all up!

the politics of whats right and wrong verses what makes more money

that's one bad hat Harry

one terrifying POV

what horrific imagery playful fun in the foreground and gruesome carnage in the background

Quint has something to say!

Robert Shaw as Quint, the shark hunter

Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper, things aren't measuring up!

the confrontation of a grieving mother who has lost her son!

a light hearted moment between father and son

WOW what a terrifying moment at the bottom of Ben Gardner's boat

this scene was so needed to break the high tension!

an uninvited guest attends the 4th of July gala festival

no fireworks, just teeth!!!

Hopper, Brody, and Quint set sail to hunt down the killer shark

hooks and line

he's a smart big fish!

the whole theater lost it here

the audiences first big views of just how big the shark is

the first barrel

hide n seek and night begins to fall

a night time visit from Mr. 25 footer

even in the hight of the tension Spielberg's magic is always on the screen as a falling star rips across the sky

the next day is filled with more shark encounters

who's hunting who

another barrel

what a shot

the chase

barrel #2

brody takes a turn

barrel #3

tug of war

3 barrels

poor little boat


the boats on fire what else could go wrong???


sending Hooper down in the cage

look out behind you

the cage was no match

frenzy on the ORCA


I was screaming out load when this happened!

one more chance for Brody

the humanity!!!!


last chance

the sea turns red

the survivors, Hooper and Brody

the end

June 2010