Tag Archive: Jaws 40th anniversary


A close up for Bruce the shark in Jaws

Review by C.J. Bunce

In time for the 40th anniversary of the movie Jaws, Titan Books issued an updated edition of Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard, a rare and unusual chronicle of the making of a film.  Told via photographs and interviews from the locals who helped literally make the film, from construction crews to performers tapped to play key roles in the movies, Memories offers yet another view of the making of the first modern summer blockbuster.

What differentiates this book from other works on this movie (or any other movie) is the “local” perspective.  Instead of giving the standard Hollywood view of the “making of” a movie using interviews with the crew and producers as you’d normally find on the TV and Film shelf, the authors, Jaws memorabilia collectors Matt Taylor and Jim Beller, take a historical research approach.  They rely on primary source material, through hundreds of hours of interviews with every islander who would speak with them, newspaper clippings from 1974, scrapbooks and photo albums that have sat on shelves for 35 years, including plenty of information never before seen by the general public.  The result is a story told in photos rarely seen for any film or film franchise–something you’d only find from years of books published about Star Wars, Star Trek, and the Indiana Jones movies.

Amity Island billboard in production

The story is told chronologically, day by day from the selection of the filming locations on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts to pre-production and on through the wrap-up of filming.  The memorabilia and ephemera pictured includes everything from the remnants of the actual boats used in the movie to the more mundane, like checks and contracts for day laborers.  Yet every piece is interesting, like candid Polaroids showing Robert Shaw’s first day on set and Spielberg at the cabin he lived at during the shoot.  The experience of sifting through all that remains of the production is a bit like spending a weekend at a small town local library researching any historical event from a town’s past.

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Jaws-paperback

Reviewed by C.J. Bunce

For the Fourth of July that is arriving on the heels of the fortieth anniversary of the premiere of the blockbuster movie Jaws, what better time for a summer reading of Peter Benchley’s bestselling novel that the movie is based on?

Well it was a good notion.

And it’s the notion in the novel Jaws–the premise–that fortunately inspired scriptwriter Carl Gottlieb, and Benchley himself–to both expand the novel, and more importantly, whittle it down, into such a finely executed, classic film.

But wait, Jaws was a bestseller!  A book that was on everyone’s bookshelf in the early 1970s!  Who doesn’t remember that book cover, and who didn’t sing the praises of that book?

The first third of the novel is quite good, exciting reading that fans of the film will be familiar with:  The death of a young woman at night swimming with her boyfriend in the northwest beach community of Amity, the politics of Chief Brody and the Mayor keeping the beaches open, and the subsequent death of a boy and lambasting of Brody by the boy’s mother for not closing down the beaches after the first death.  The introductory chapters really set up the reader for a wild ride.

Jaws_novel_cover

Unfortunately from there the story drifts off course and never returns to the excitement of the set-up.

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Fathom Events Jaws

Forty years ago today, summer movies catapulted into an entirely new age.

Fueled by the bestselling novel it was based on, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws scared an entire generation like never before.  Summer movies became a spectacle, a marketing extravaganza, and a pervasive part of culture in America and beyond.

If you haven’t seen Jaws in the theater, you haven’t seen it at all.  We screened the original print last year (see our review here at borg.com from last summer).  Now a new generation can see it on the big screen and past generations can go back into the water again.  But only for a short time.

Turner Classic Movies, Universal Pictures, and the Fathom Events series is screening Jaws across the country tomorrow, June 21, 2015, and Wednesday, June 24, 2015, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time, at a wide release of national theater chains.

Jaws by Laurent Durieux

And keep coming back this month for even more Jaws coverage, including a summer exclusive you will want to sink your teeth into.

Celebrate Steven Spielberg’s terrifying masterpiece that had people rushing in waves away from the beach and straight into cinemas across the country.  Accompanying the film will be a specially produced introduction by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, who will give insight into how this classic still makes us think twice about jumping in that water!

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