Like most of us alive in the 1970s, our first exposure to JAWS was through the novel and not the movie. Peter Benchley’s debut book was everywhere in the summer of 1974 and selling like crazy. It was the HARRY POTTER and THE DA VINCI CODE of its year. I suspect it had something to do with that cover. Not the hard copy cover but the paperback one where the obviously naked woman swims along and the shark closes up from below. My 12 year old adolescent self was intrigued the moment I saw it. I suspect I was alone.
How scary and terrifying was JAWS?
A fellow classmate confessed to me that he and his buddies always went swimming at night when they vacationed at Myrtle Beach. They stopped doing that after JAWS.
One afternoon, my cousins and I went over to a friend’s house to swim in their pool and my cousin refused to go in the pool. She was too scared from JAWS.
While on vacation in Indiana, we all went over to the beach at Indiana Dunes. It was a glorious afternoon but nobody was going in the water. We were at Indiana Dunes on the shores of Lake Michigan, people!!! Nobody going in. All because of a movie.
Four years later, Universal re-released JAWS into theaters for one week only. We were in Michigan by then and I was regularly driving myself to the movies. So I announced to Mom that I was going to see JAWS. She didn’t say a thing. I went over to the Keego Theater in Keego Harbor, sat in the theater which was about a third full, and enjoyed myself completely. I was ready to love it but it was even better than I had expected. I knew then without a doubt that Spielberg was brilliant. And this shark movie would remain one of my all time favorite films.
Two weeks ago, JAWS returned to theaters for the first time since 1979. My family and I went to see it. The audience screamed in all the same places. They laughed at all the same jokes (it is amazing how funny the movie is). Spielberg’s directing is even more incredible up on the big screen. John Williams’ classic score sounds really good coming out of those speakers. But the first indicators that JAWS probably is 40 years old came from my 18 year old son:
He fell asleep in the movie. He said he liked it but thought it was “a bit too slow”.
Sigh. OK, everybody, “do The Hustle!”