Roar! Scream in horror as Jaws turns 40 this month (it were released on June 20th 1975). Sharks don’t roar, of course (except in the much maligned third sequel), but we needed a snappy headline and nothing really snapped to our attention to make us snap at a suitable headline which really conveyed the snap of those jaws. You know? Never mind, though! We’re here to pay tribute to a great film.
Steven Spielberg adapted Jaws from Peter Benchley’s book (which is, apparently, a bit rubbish). In the novel *SPOILER ALERT* loveable Hooper has an affair with the police chief’s (Scheider in the film) wife before getting killed by the shark and then shot by the police chief when dead. Lovely.
Spielberg did away with such guff and crafted a brilliant narrative from a disastrous on set experience. The three mechanical sharks which had been constructed didn’t work (one sank straight to the bottom of the ocean when first deployed). Spielberg was consequently faced with another one of cinema’s infamous filming disasters.
He used his brain, however, and with his crew structured a movie around imaginative characterisation through the film’s protagonists, along with but mere fleeting glimpses of the shark. Importantly, the script was heavily developed so characters Hooper, Brody, and Quint (representing upper, middle, and working classes) spar entertainingly.
The leads, Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss, make the film. Yes, there’s a massive impressive shark in the mix, but their bickering, fighting, and eventual friendship on board Quint’s boat (in which they’re attempting to annihilate the beast) is really magical stuff. Cinema gold, as one would say.
So it’s 40 now and it’s an all time classic. Mr. Wapojif first watched it as a kid 20+ years ago and it remains one of his favourites. At Professional Moron we’ve always been fascinated by Quint in particular, and British actor Robert Shaw (who happens to be from Greater Manchester). For such a fine actor (thespian, even!) he was fed up with the job and wanted to focus on his writing (he was a published author, too), although he sadly did in 1978 before he could make a proper career change.
Real credit has to go to Spielberg, though, for completing what was essentially his second film (made for TV film Duel started things off). Congrats, sir, on 40 years of terrifying everyone out of the bloody water, as film critic Mark Kermode here explains. Before you watch it, be aware Jaws is BACK in cinemas to mark the anniversary. Go and see it, or face horrible peril!