Friday, October 07, 2005


The first JAWS movie I ever saw was Jaws IV: The Revenge, an experience which I imagine is similar to how a young kid a couple of years ago might feel after watching Michael Jordan play for the Washington Wizards. What's the big deal? This guy is supposed to be a great player? What a mess!

I was born just a few years too late, it seems. The Age of the Sequel had been ushered, and the cultural phenomenon that was JAWS had dwindled to a smattering of poorly-conceived and ill-directed (and written, and acted) sequels -- so much so that the name of the original film was tarnished, and I (though I had heard that it was a great movie) was fearful to watch it. Once bitten by mechanical shark, twice shy. Or so they say.

It was only during my final year of high school that I chanced to see the original. I finished classes by 12:35 every day, and on one particular spring afternoon, while eating lunch (KD, natch), it was being shown on City TV's Great Movies. So I watched it. And I was amazed.

Why didn't I see this before? This is like the greatest fucking movie ever motherfucking made!

I've since grown more articulate. Though perhaps not by much.

Anyway, on Friday night, after the little girl finally fell asleep (11:03 by my watch), I was itching to watch a flick, but the answer to the question which one? eluded me. I was about to write some crap for the blog (a think piece entitled "Neverending Sound: One Man's Theory That Sound Never Dies; We Just Can't Hear It Anymore (Unless It's Come On Eileen), because the "updates" have been fairly infrequent. But, to tell the truth, I didn't wanna. I look upon blogging as a hobby, not a responsibility. The only reason I write and post the crap I do is because -- and this may come as a shock -- I get a kick out of it. When writing a blog entry feels too much like homework, I think it's time to take a break. Plus, I've been swamped with work these past few weeks, and by the end of last week "no writing" felt like a sound rule to adhere to.

I'm off my mini-sabbatical now. This post will probably be dated Friday or Saturday, because the first few sentences I wrote and then saved shortly after the film ended (hence the title of this entry). I wanted to post this then, but was too tired and, inebriated. This entire weekend I resolved to write it, but never felt like it.

Truth be told, the Red Sox getting bounced 3-0 out of the American League Division Series has left me particularly apathetic. Every year I keep thinking "this is our year." The Sox's World Series drought will soon officially be 1 year. Boo-hoo. I take solace in the fact that the Yanks are one game away from an early exit, too. Then I won't have to worry about sports fanaticism until the NBA regular season begins in early November. As for football -- the kind with helmets and guys with names like Takeo Spikes and Tiki Barber -- the Buffalo Bills are D-E-A-F...I mean, hell, you know what I mean.

Their season is over. Unless it turns around. Unless it turns around it is over.

(Sorry, just practicing my Hemingway mimicry. )

I realize that this is scatterbrained, and for that I apologize. I'll never do it again; by which I mean to say I'll always do it ad nauseam. I'm using reverse psychology, see. But let's get into what this post is supposed to be about. And remember: this is not a bad or poorly-conceived post. Like your girlfriend's mouth, or The Clash's Sandinasta!, I've put a little bit of everything into it. Enjoy:

10 Things I Love About JAWS:

10) That famous shot. You know the one I mean. The one where Roy Scheider (of 2010: The Year We Make Contact fame) is sitting on the beach, when all of a sudden he sees a gigantic pork roast swimming in the, wait, that's JEWS.

(Please try to forget that unfunny and possibly anti-Semitic remark. I'd delete it, but it's Sunday, and I should repent. While we're here I should also mention that I once, inexplicably, found Carrie Anne Moss hot.)

Anyway, it's the shot where the background zooms out, while at the same time the camera zooms in on Scheider. I'm sure there's a technical name for such a shot, but since I don't know it we'll refer to the shot as "the shot where the background zooms out, while at the same time the camera zooms in on Scheider" shot.

9) sheriff Brody's wife, played by Lorraine Gary. What a breath of fresh air it is to watch a movie where the wife of the main character unconditionally supports her husband and doesn't whine about how his work is interfering with their home life; of which a similar parallel can be drawn to my own married life, simply by replacing "work" with "using the kitchen sink as a toilet." Extra bonus points awarded because she doesn't complain that he drinks in front of his kids.

8) John Williams excellent score. I don't really need to say more, do I? Here's my onomatopoeic rendition of the classic theme:

Daah-dah. Daah-dah. Dah-da-da-da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da-da...Dah-da-da-daa!

7) Richard Dreyfuss. You may know him as the curmudgeonly fellow who forgets to take his medication and likes to throw coffee (iced coffee, because, you know, he's not Hitler) in the face of web "reporters," but I prefer to think of him as the best actor in JAWS not named Robert Shaw. Which leads us to

6) Robert Shaw as Quint -- in my opinion the best performance by an actor in a supporting role. Ever.

Hold on...the still-alive ghost of Eli Wallach is reminding me that I've made that bold statement in the past concerning his portrayal of Tuco in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. And he's right. They both deserve the honor.

Tuco vs. Quint: which is the better performance? I'd be better suited trying to figure out the meaning of life. Or what DWYCK means.

5) The movie's final scene, showing Brody and Hooper swimming back to shore. It's quaint and effective. Mercifully, we are saved an ending where Brody's family (and the town) fears him dead, and then sentimentally hug and grope him when he returns alive. That would have sucked.

4) Reon Kadena. Sure she's not in the movie; but if she was it wouldn't suffer for it. And that's saying quite a lot, I think.

3) The dialogue. Here are a few of my favorite lines (cribbed from

- Brody: You're gonna need a bigger boat.

- Quint: Here lies the body of Mary Lee; died at the age of a hundred and three. For fifteen years she kept her virginity; not a bad record for this vicinity.

- Brody: "Slow ahead." I can go slow ahead. Come on down here and chum some of this shit.

Quint: [seeing Hooper's equipment] What are you? Some kind of half-assed astronaut?
[examining the shark cage]
Quint: Jesus H Christ, when I was a boy, every little squirt wanted to be a harpooner or a sword fisherman. What d'ya have there - a portable shower or a monkey cage?
Hooper: Anti-Shark cage.
Quint: Anti-shark cage. You go inside the cage?
[Hooper nods]
Quint: Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark's in the water. Our shark.
Quint: Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain. For we've received orders for to sail back to Boston. And so nevermore shall we see you again.

- Ellen Brody: Wanna get drunk and fool around?
Brody: Oh Yeah.

2) The shark -- or more accurately the absence of the shark. There are so many ways that this film could have been made wrong. It's a testament to the skill of the director (Steven Spielberg of Always fame) and everyone else involved that it wasn't. The best example of this is the titular shark, which we rarely see. The fear of the unknown is the greatest fear, and what Spielberg and Co. show us with floating docks, yellow barrels, and shark's eye-view camera technique is greater and more fearful than the actual shark (though he's a BAMF in his own right).

1) The scene on the boat at night between Brody, Hooper, and Quint. This is my favorite part of the film, and ranks as one of my all-time favorite scenes in movie history. Quint's monologue is particularly awesome. I can't recall another film where one character's dialogue is so engrossing. And it's a long piece of dialogue.

Here is the coup de grace jones, though reading it can do no justice in comparison to watching and listening to the superb scene:

Quint: Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into her side, Chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian to Leyte. We'd just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn't see the first shark for about a half-hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that in the water, Chief? You can tell by lookin' from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn't know, was that our bomb mission was so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn't even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin' by, so we formed ourselves into tight groups. It was sorta like you see in the calendars, you know the infantry squares in the old calendars like the Battle of Waterloo and the idea was the shark come to the nearest man, that man he starts poundin' and hollerin' and sometimes that shark he go away... but sometimes he wouldn't go away. Sometimes that shark looks right at ya. Right into your eyes. And the thing about a shark is he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, he doesn't even seem to be livin'... 'til he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'. The ocean turns red, and despite all your poundin' and your hollerin' those sharks come in and... they rip you to pieces. You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don't know how many sharks there were, maybe a thousand. I do know how many men, they averaged six an hour. Thursday mornin', Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boson's mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. He bobbed up, down in the water, he was like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he'd been bitten in half below the waist. At noon on the fifth day, a Lockheed Ventura swung in low and he spotted us, a young pilot, lot younger than Mr. Hooper here, anyway he spotted us and a few hours later a big ol' fat PBY come down and started to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened. Waitin' for my turn. I'll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went into the water. 316 men come out, the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.

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