JAWS. 1975. BASED ON THE BOOK BY PETER BENCHLEY. DIRECTED BY STEVEN SPIELBERG. STARRING ROY SCHEIDER, RICHARD DREYFUSS, ROBERT SHAW, MURRAY HAMILTON, LORRAINE GARY AND PETER BENCHLEY. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
Ah, the Daddy of ’em all. I’ve got to be careful with this particular movie review, as there are JAWS fin-atics (see what I did there…?) on the Internet who’ll tear me to ribbons if I make so much as the titchiest mistake or say even one stupid thing in it.
I should know, I’m Facebook friends with a good, meaty chunk of ’em and they’ve told me off before for doing things like referring to the shark as JAWS. I never really understood why that’s wrong, but how-and-ever, I won’t make that mistake again. They won’t need to threaten my life twice, haha. Ah, I’m only joking. They’re lovely people really. Not at all uptight and exclusive about their precious film, haha again…!
They needn’t worry about me saying anything uncomplimentary about Steven Spielberg’s 1975 blockbuster. For one thing, I don’t think that there is anything negative to be said about it and, for another, I’ve loved JAWS since I first watched it as a teenager.
I’m an unashamed leviathan-groupie, by which I mean I adore huge sea-creatures, especially sharks and whales. I get sexually excited whenever I hear the word ‘megalodon.’ I can only orgasm if I think about the first sighting of Moby Dick in the movie of the same name. Okay, so that’s a joke but you get the gist. Don’t you…?
JAWS is regarded by many as the finest horror film ever made, and by still more as the finest film, full stop. It has many imitators but no-one’s ever quite managed it. Or even come close, to be brutally honest. It’s based on the bestselling novel by Peter Benchley, who actually makes a lovely cameo appearance in the film as a news reporter.
The book is quite different to the film in places. In the book, Hooper and Mrs. Chief Brody have a rather sleazy sexual affair and a suspicious Chief Brody feels like he wants to slug Hooper in the chops. Can you imagine that…? It makes for great reading but the film as we know it would be different if they’d put that in it. I don’t say better, but I do say different.
They’ve left these sordid shenanigans out of the film, and instead Brody and Hooper are buddies, both forced into an uneasy alliance with Quint, the mad-as-a-hatter shark-hunter. In any case, I love the book, but I think the film is better.
Do we all know the plot by now…? Amity Island has a serial-killer problem, a real big, toothsome one. This serial killer doesn’t wear a mask, wield a chainsaw or live in a creepy motel with his mother. Whom nobody ever sees, by the way. I’m just saying, is all. No, a monstrous Great White shark is stalking the waters around Amity, and anyone unwise enough to go swimming is likely to end up as din-dins.
Police Chief Brody, superbly played by the late Roy Scheider, is initially one of the few people who actually believe in the existence of this fiendish fishy. He has the devil’s own time trying to convince the town’s stubborn selectmen, in particular Mayor Larry Vaughan, that there’s a big problem swimming around in Amity’s sparkling blue waters.
They don’t care for the bad publicity, you see. Bad publicity equals fewer tourists and fewer tourists is catastrophic news for the local economy. It’s not until the problem becomes too big to ignore that Brody, Hooper- the chap from the Oceanographic Institute- and Quint are able to set off on the ocean wave to track down the big mutha who’s been chowing down on the locals and visiting tourists.
The acting is flawless, the direction sublime and the script is tight and jam-packed with quotable quotes. ‘A panic on your hands on the Fourth of July.’ ‘That’s some bad hat, Harry.’ ‘Smile, you son-of-a-bitch…!’ And of course the big one: ‘We’re going to need a bigger boat.’ Or is it ‘I think you’re gonna need a bigger boat…?’ Or is it something else again…? People have been famously misquoting cinema’s most famous line since 1975. If you want to know what the line actually is, you’re going to have to watch the film. Snigger. Yes, I can be mean if I have to, haha.
It’s hard to pick out just a few highlights for this review as the film is chock-a-block with highlights, but I’ve managed to narrow it down to a mere three. The death of poor old Chrissie Watkins, the drunken skinny-dipper who encounters JAWS- sorry, sorry, encounters the shark, don’t kill me, please- just a few minutes into the film. Brody and Hooper night-fishing for a rather large prey in Hooper’s pricey, fancy-pants boat. Quint telling Brody and Hooper the blood-chilling story of the SS INDIANAPOLIS aboard THE ORCA. Then there are the fantastic final scenes when… But I’m not allowed to say, am I? Spoilers, you see.
My JAWS friends online are all American and they have some brilliant connections to the film, such as having met nearly all the stars of the film at one point or another. I myself have a couple of JAWS stories. In 2014, Richard Dreyfuss attended a special screening of the film in Dublin’s Mansion House during the world-famous Jameson Film Festival. I didn’t actually attend the screening or meet Richard Dreyfuss as I didn’t have tickets, but the Mansion House is only a short walk from my house so, for an evening at least, The Man From The Oceanographic Institute and I were breathing the same air. Not impressed…? I have a second story. Here it is.
A few summers ago, my local cinema put on a special weekend of late-night screenings of JAWS around the time of my birthday in June. I’m ashamed to say it of my fellow Dubliners, but only one person showed up to the screening I was personally booked in for. You guessed it. Me. I had the entire cinema to myself from approximately eleven at night to one in the morning, which was actually pretty scary. When the shark attacked Hooper in the cage, I nearly peed myself, excuse my French. The only thing that would have made the experience more unnerving would have been seeing the film in 3D. Is that a better story? I hope so. I’m afraid I only have two stories…
JAWS has three sequels. JAWS 2 is excellent, in my humble opinion, and well up to the standard of the original. JAWS 3 I hated. The shark doesn’t look real and he’s not scary, people! JAWS 4, or JAWS- THE REVENGE gets absoluted slated by fans of the original movie but I love it. Michael Caine is in it and it’s got the banana-boat scene. C’mon guys, the banana-boat scene, ya gotta love the banana-boat scene…!
So there you have it, folks. I will now go and hide in a safe place where my online JAWS friends will never find me, because I’m bound to have said something irreverent to annoy or scandalise them. Remember me as a woman who loved sharks in general and JAWS in particular. Oooh-er, this hiding-place is a little cramped. I think we’re going to need a bigger one. Excuse the pun…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY