Saturday, April 18, 2009

Five reasons why JAWS is a great movie

1. The opening "Chrissy" scene is made terrifying by sound and motion only.

2. The first time we see the shark tip to tail, it's scaled by swimming behind Brody's youngest son as he plays in the sand.

3. The unseen Ben Gardner is as brilliant a literary device as I've ever scene.

4. "That's some bad hat, Harry."

5. The boat (the Orca) is as fully developed a character as Hooper, Brody or Quint.

5.xx The mayor and his clothing and car, the broken picket fences at the onset of the movie, the slipping topsiders on the edge of the Orca's deck, the beercan and paper cup ...

Erin love Jaws!

27 comments:

jonas said...

Not surprisingly, the book is better. Mostly because of the quasi-sex scenes the movies cuts. Cuz when you're 14, that's the best part of any book.

Harry Finch said...

So Jonas, now that you're 15, what books are you reading?

Erin O'Brien said...

That sex scene is one painful sheaf of papers.

Actually, I think the way Spielberg managed to make Benchley's characters likable is yet another brilliant stroke. In the book, Brody, Hooper and Quint are miserable bastards.

Quint even talks about how he cuts open smaller sharks and throws them into the water so the tourists can watch them feed on their own entrails.

Jaws (print) vs. Jaws (film) is a fascinating discussion on its own.

I know Great Films are supposed to be in the "letterbox" format and have subtitles, but I can't help myself. I love Jaws!

Tim O'Regan said...

My wife described Roy Scheider's Brody as having a face like a clenched fist.

Erin O'Brien said...

I love the line from Ellen Brody, "Wanna get drunk and fool around?"

Brody's face doesn't look so clenched in that scene. Ha!

Hi Tim.

Tim O'Regan said...

I love that line, too! And when Ellen tells Brody that he's lucky to be married to her because she's a wonderful person.

Harry Finch said...

Jaws is a movie to show that young person convinced nothing filmed before his birth is worth watching.

Ken Houghton said...

How did the U.S.S. Indianapolis/"Show Me the Way to Go Home" scene get left to me to mention.

Even the ultrachic "Joss" Wheedon paid homage with Xander using the "We're going to need a bigger boat" line.

Jaws is fine in adapted format, btw; the shark really looks worse and worse the bigger and better the screen is.

(As an aside, the sick fuck channel was running the six SW movies last weekend; I was amazed how much better the effects in the fifth film in the sequence [The Empire Strikes Back] were than the ones in the second film. The unstoppable technological progress...huh?...what?...oh, never mind.)

jonas said...

Well, now at 15, Jaws I read more blogs....

jonas said...

Yeah, that's a typeo...stupid internets...

Erin O'Brien said...

Ken, those are the biggies. I was going for the less obvious stuff that kicks my ass.

jonas said...

Salsa Shark?

Erin O'Brien said...

Now THAT was silly, jonas!

jonas said...

I do what I can. That movie (Clerks) isn't for everyone. But I like it...

Kirk Jusko said...

Spielberg is often compared to Disney on the basis of one movie, E.T., but he's really an heir to Hitchcock. At least he is in JAWS, JURASSIC PARK, and the first two thirds of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF A THIRD KIND (after which it turns into something wholly original.)

The sex scenes aren't in the movie simply because Peter Benchley (Robert's grandson, all you Round Table fans out there) didn't want them in. It's the publisher that demanded that they be put in the book.

I know it's not the film's main attraction, but JAWS had some great dialogue. My favorite exchange is when Hooper tells Brody it's kind of weird for a guy afraid of water to live on an island, and Brody replies, "It's only an island when you see it from the outside."

Erin O'Brien said...

In almost every dialogue exchange in "Jaws," the characters aren't just talking, they are acting on each other. The dialogue is never fluff.

Now of course, it is the appropriate time to mention DUEL.

Rodger Jacobs said...

One of the main reasons the dialogue in "Jaws" is so witty and tight-paced (aside from Benchley's own contributions) is that the main screenwriter was Carl Gottleib, who wrote for George Burns and Saturday Night Live, among others (he also penned Steve Martin's "The Jerk"). The famous U.S.S. Indianapolis speech was written by actor/writer Robert Shaw and director-screenwriter John Milius of "Apocalypse Now", "Jeremiah Johnson", and "Big Wednesday" fame. A WGA arbitration hearing, however, left Milius and Shaw without credits for their work on the screenplay.

dogsdontpurr said...

I never saw the movie, but years ago I saw either a documentary or an interview that alleged the boat they were shooting on actually started sinking after they had baited the water for sharks. I guess it was a close call, but obviously everybody made it back to shore safe. But they supposedly got some of their best and most realistic footage because they continued to shoot even though they were actually sinking.

I love that story. Not sure if it's true though.

Erin O'Brien said...

Thanks for the cool tidbits, DDP and Rodger.

And thanks to everyone for loving on "Jaws." I was sure everyone was going to sign on and link to a bunch of Euro art films and tell me I was a doof.

David said...

Jaws is the first movie that made me make noise in fright. When we see the fish for the first time off the end of the boat, I gasped quite loudly

OK, I shrieked like a girl.

Mr. L said...

Jaws had some great lines, but lost it for me when the shark started eating the boat (that's when it "jumped its own shark", LOL).

Now, for REAL laughs, how about the scene in "E.T." when they find him all shriveled and white in the ditch?? I laughed out loud in the theatre...and the woman in front of me looked at me as if I were the devil incarnate....which made it even more funny...

Dr. Zombie said...

Even all these years later... Jaws still holds up as a classic. I couldn't agree more, Erin. It's, at its heart, a study in about a bazillion different archetypes... but they are so well put together you don't care. All you know is that it is a visually stunning movie with a tight story and some of the best acting ever.

And I still think the USS Indianapolis scene with Robert Shaw is one of the top five greatest monologues EVER delivered in a film. So chilling and so emotional...

philbilly said...

Jaws, yes, excellent, never been able to really enjoy swimming in the Gulf at night since, but...

Duel.

The finest chase-scene-as-movie ever produced. The engine in Weaver's car keeps going long after it's fried because it's a Slant Six with solid lifers, an insanely reliable piece of Detroit iron that ceased production because it was long and heavy, wouldn't fit the new front wheel drive formats.

There's a point during the severe overheating death of an engine that it briefly begins to make big power as long as the crank and valve trains can be forced to turn. The engine enters an adiabatic regime, no energy lost to cooling, and all the fuel energy hits the pistons, even as they are melting. You can hear this happen in Duel.

Magnificent.

Erin O'Brien said...

David: I think everyone freaks out when the face falls out of Ben Gardner's boat.

Mr L: Remember the "landshark" from Saturday Night Live? Hilarious. And believe it or not, I never saw ET in its entirety.

Zombie: Everybody loves that scene. Robert Shaw was HOT.

Phil: The red Valiant. Yet another brilliant detail.

Norm said...

I still have scars in my left arm from my best buddy Sue's fingernails from the time we first saw that movie.

Zen Wizard said...

Probably the coolest tattoo you could possibly have would be the tattoo commemorating your service on the USS Indianapolis; which you had removed because the memory was too painful.

Way cooler than a tribal tattoo, when you aren't even in a "tribe," for instance.

HeyJoe said...

Ah yes, the beer can vs. paper cup scene. I remember it well.