I was tickled when I was approached to write for moviepilot.com. Delighted, even. Mainly because I've had my own site for quite some time, but had stopped posting on it months ago. That's how this all started. My little blog was discovered by someone who could plug me into a larger system.
So I wanted to be sure that my first post was worthwhile for all of the loyal moviepilot.com visitors. I want to share with you the thing that created my love of -- and dare I say, obsession with -- film. It's a little picture that was released before I was even born. Picture it: June 20th, 1975. Moviegoers line up outside of theaters across the country. Their stomachs in knots, unsure of what's about to happen upon their eyes.
It was the original summer blockbuster. With a budget of only $9 million, this film yielded a record (at the time) box office gross of $470 million.
I'm talking, of course, about JAWS. My father sat me down when I was about 8-years-old and asked if I wanted to see the best movie ever. When he didn't put in THE LITTLE MERMAID, I was upset. I got over it though. Quickly, too. The opening credits created more stress than my little body knew what to do with.
When the movie was over, I had resigned myself to the idea that even though I love swimming, never again would I enter a body of water. Ocean, lake, pool, bathtub. Those things were all behind me. The shower was even risky, but I could get in and out of there in 4 minutes if I washed my body, face, and hair with my dad's bar of Zest. No shark was coming out of my shower drain.
Several months later, I'd broken the promise that I'd made to myself. I was in the pool in my backyard. She was 4-feet deep and above ground. What could go wrong? I submerged my body, and immediately leapt out.
I became fascinated with this fear. What, in my rational young mind, was creating this element of terror? The internet didn't exist back then (I know, horrifying, right?) so I asked my dad. The bringer of all things hair-raising. He gently explained to me that if I didn't get in the goddamn shower that I could kiss dessert goodbye. He gingerly went on to say that no sharks were coming out of the goddamn drain to get me. He turned back to Zelda and I marched my way to the bathroom.
I locked myself in, and two hours later I was so fresh, and so clean. One hour and fifty-five minutes spent psyching myself up, five minutes spent scrubbing my skin off as fast as I could. This kind of fear -- maybe not as irrational -- was the gripping kind that stopped people from doing something that was once enjoyable. They spent 124 minutes in a theater and the rest of their lives hearing that music in the water.
When Spielberg took JAWS under his wing, magic happened next. Peter Benchley wrote JAWS with the hope that he could do a water monster story without creating a knock-off "Moby Dick". He did so magnificently.
I'm happy to tell you that JAWS is both my favorite book and movie. I don't like the unsavory behavior of Hooper in the book, but the ending stays with you. The book creates a finale that leaves one breathless. A 'goosebumps' kind of ending.
The movie, I'm sad to say, is a product of Hollywood's pandering at its finest. Everything that happens in the short time this picture is on screen is fast-paced and exciting, but Hollywood came up with an ending that was a crowd-pleaser, and left the jarring final scene from the book behind.
And that song. That dreadful song. Thanks a lot, John Williams, for giving me something to think about every time I get in the water, even now.
But what's a movie without an amazing score? If JAWS had been set to a different soundtrack, life as we know it would be completely changed. What's the first thing people do when you mention JAWS? They get a goofy smile on and go, "Duh duh duh duh duhduhduhduhduh..."
And can I please talk about the cast for just a moment? What an outstanding ensemble, amiright? Roy and Richard were top shelf, but Robert Shaw was the icing on the cake. If you've never seen JAWS -- and apparently there are people out there who haven't -- I don't want to spoil even a moment for you. I will tell you that I got my first two tattoos this summer both inspired by my favorite movie character of all time: Mr. Quint, played by the incredible Robert Shaw himself.
This movie is my favorite because from a screenwriting perspective, it's pretty perfect. It's scary -- horror is my favorite genre now, go figure -- and suspenseful. It's funny and light-hearted at times. Most of all, it's got the meanest, baddest shark of all time, and I happen to be nuts about sharks. Another surprise.
For those of you who've never seen JAWS, I'm sorry. Your life is lacking the enrichment that comes with watching it. It would be remiss of me not to at least give a shout out to Lorraine Gary and Murray Hamilton. Brody's beloved wife and Amity's dippy mayor.
If you haven't seen it, I would love to hear a first-timer's feedback. If you have, you'd better have a good explanation as to why it's not you're favorite movie of all time. I'm kidding, of course, but please do send your thoughts and feeling on the film. It changed me for life, as any film of this caliber can do.
Here's to swimmin' with bowlegged women!