Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Roy Scheider: Sheriff Brody
Richard Dreyfuss: Hooper
Robert Shaw: Quint
Tagline: Don’t go in the water
By: Efferdent Johnson
Past memories: In 1975, I was doing my best to propagate the best hair helmet any pre-teen had ever hoped to wear. My interests were few and my fears were many. Some of which were brought to the surface by a frightening grey machine with a zillion teeth and a thirst for blood. By my tenth year of life, the most frightening movie experiences were the ever-so-scary villains of Disney. I can remember sinking in my seat during Willy Wonka’s boat ride, or almost all of Chitty Chitty Bang AHHHHHHHHH!!!
Jaws would never affect me… or so I thought. The chances of me seeing the movie were less than my chances for a Senate seat. My mom would make sure that her young sons would not be turned to evil, sexually confused or exposed to the violence of the cinema. The following summer Rocky came to town and my brothers and I were not permitted to go. “It is way too bloody and violent. No. I will not tell you again.” I can remember hearing that daily for two weeks.
Mom, though, couldn’t censor every facet of a 10-year-old’s life.
The commercials started and it led to a frenzy of attention in our tiny land-locked community in southern Colorado. Every conversation both of adults and kids seemed to begin and end with some reference to a man-eating shark. On the play ground while sneaking up on the girls, my friends and I would be revealed by our own musical accompaniment, “Dunt Dunt, Dunt Dunt”. After the movie played in town and moved on to the drive-in theater, the book appeared on every shelf not already packed with Rockem Sockem Robots, Hardy Boys lunch boxes or Billy Beer. I even remember the local sporting goods store with a Jaws display in the window next to the fishing tackle and baseball cleats.
Never seeing the movie juiced every waterborne fear a 10 year old could have. As an avid swimmer on the swim team, my paranoia was limitless. If a teammate was to scrape at my toes while swimming laps, the chance of something other than urine coming from my Speedo was possible. I guess Spielberg my have been responsible for some of my best times.
I am sure the first time I saw the movie was on network TV probably five years later. Robert Shaw has always been the salty fisherman in my mind while reading books about the sea. I can imagine him now as Hemingway’s old man or Melville’s whale-obsessed, one-legged captain. Ah, what a glorious time before Stakeout, Another Stakeout or a terrible Poseidon remake when Richard Dreyfuss was cool. Or to see Roy Scheider ( R.I.P) as something more than a douche bag flying a fictitious helicopter.
Ultimately, the movie didn’t live up to the expectations of my 10-year-old imagination. It was years later while in high school after watching the horrible sequels that I realized why the original had transfixed my tiny hometown. People from every walk of life could relate in some way to a story that was chock full of the human experience. Man vs Man, Man vs Beast, small town politics and obsession that ultimately leads to a bad and bloody end or just having the crap scared out of you, take your pick.
If nothing else my friends and I had so much fun replaying the Saturday Night Live skit “Land Shark” that to this day the mention of it will bring us all too contagious belly laughter.
And what did Eff think about his most recent screening of a film he had not seen in more than a decade?
Or to download: Here’s Episode V:Jaws.