Lone Wolf Sullivan is a writer, songwriter, and studio musician.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Jaws (1975) * * *

(first lines)
Tom Cassidy: What's your name again?
Christine Watkins: Chrissie.
Tom Cassidy: Where are we going?
Christine Watkins: Swimming

At a late night beach party on Amity Island in New England, Christine Watkins (Susan Backlinie) decides to go skinny dipping. She strips on the beach and dives into the water, where she is suddenly jerked around and then pulled under by an unseen force. The next morning, Amity's new police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) is notified that Christine is missing. Brody and his deputy Len Hendricks (Jeffrey Kramer) find her mutilated remains washed up on the shore. The medical examiner informs Brody that the victim's death was due to a shark attack. Brody heads out to close the beaches, but is intercepted and overruled by the town mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), who fears that reports of a shark attack will ruin the summer tourist season which is the town's major source of income. The medical examiner says he was wrong about a shark attack and tells Brody that it was a boating accident. Brody reluctantly goes along with this.

Mayor Vaughn: Fellows, let's be reasonable, huh? This is not the time or the place to perform some kind of a half-assed autopsy on a fish... And I'm not going to stand here and see that thing cut open and see that little Kintner boy spill out all over the dock. Martin, it's all psychological. You yell barracuda, everybody says, "Huh? What?" You yell shark, we've got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.

A short time later, a young boy named Alex Kintner (Jeffrey Voorhees) is attacked and killed by a shark while swimming off a crowded beach. Mrs. Kintner (Lee Fierro) places a $3,000 bounty on the animal, sparking an amateur shark hunting frenzy and attracting the attention of local professional shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw). He interrupts a town meeting to offer his services, and his demand for $10,000 is taken "under advisement". Brought in by Brody, expert marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) conducts an autopsy on Chrissie's remains and concludes she was killed by a "rogue" Great White shark.

Mrs. Kintner: Chief Brody?
Brody: Yes? (Mrs. Kintner slaps Brody and sobs)
Mrs. Kintner: I just found out, that a girl got killed here last week, and you knew it! You knew there was a shark out there! You knew it was dangerous! But you let people go swimming anyway? You knew all those things! But still my boy is dead now. And there's nothing you can do about it. My boy is dead. I wanted you to know that. (she walks away)
Mayor Vaughn: I'm sorry, Martin. She's wrong.
Brody: No, she's not.

Mayor Vaughn: (to reporter) I'm pleased and happy to repeat the news that we have, in fact, caught and killed a large predator that supposedly injured some bathers. But, as you see, it's a beautiful day, the beaches are open and people are having a wonderful time. Amity, as you know, means "friendship".

Soon after a large tiger shark is caught by a group of novice fishermen, leading the town to believe the problem is solved, but an unconvinced Hooper asks to examine the contents of the shark's stomach. Because Vaughn refuses to make the "operation" public, Brody and Hooper return after dark and learn that the dead shark does not contain human remains, just fish, a car license plate, and garbage. Scouting aboard Hooper's state-of-the-art boat, they come across the half-sunken wreckage of local fisherman Ben Gardner's (Craig Kingsbury) boat. Hooper dons a wetsuit and discovers Gardner's severed head and a huge shark tooth. Mayor Vaughn still refuses to close the beach. On the Fourth of July the beaches are covered in tourists. While a prank triggers a false alarm and draws off the authorities' attention, the real shark enters an estuary, kills a man, and nearly takes the life of Brody's oldest son Michael (Chris Rebello). Brody forces a stunned Vaughn to hire Quint. Brody and Hooper join the hunter on his boat, the Orca, and the trio set out to kill the man-eater.

Hooper: Ah. Just like I thought... He came up with the Gulf Stream--from southern waters. (he pulls a Louisiana license plate from the shark. Brody examines it)
Brody: He didn't eat a car, did he?
Hooper: Naw, a tiger shark's like a garbage can, it'll eat anything. Someone probably threw that in a river.

At sea Brody is given the task of laying a chum line, while Quint uses a large fishing pole to try to snag the shark. The first results are inconclusive and Quint and Hooper grow increasingly agitated with one another. As Brody continues his task, the enormous shark suddenly looms up behind the boat. A horrified Brody announces its presence: "You're gonna need a bigger boat!" Quint and Hooper watch the great white shark circle the Orca and estimate that it weighs 3 tons and is 25 feet long. Quint harpoons the shark with a line attached to a flotation barrel, designed to prevent the shark from being able to submerge as well as to track it on the surface. But the shark pulls the barrel under and disappears.

Night falls without another sighting, so the men retire to the boat's cabin, where Quint and Hooper compare their various scars and Quint tells of his experience with sharks as a survivor of the World War II sinking of the USS Indianapolis. The shark reappears while the men sing, damages the boat's hull, and slips away before the men can harm it. In the morning, while the men repair the engine, the barrel suddenly reappears at the stern. Quint destroys the radio to prevent Brody from calling the Coast Guard for help. The shark attacks again, and after a long hard chase, Quint harpoons it to another barrel. The men tie the barrels to the stern, but the shark drags the boat backwards, forcing water onto the deck and into the engine, flooding it. Quint harpoons it again, attaching three barrels in all to the shark, while the animal continues to tow them. Quint is about to cut the ropes with his machete when the cleats are pulled off the stern. The shark continues to attack the boat and Quint heads towards shore with the shark in pursuit, hoping to draw the animal into shallow waters, where it will be beached and drowned. In his obsession to kill the shark, Quint overtaxes his damaged engine, causing it to seize.

Hooper: Boys, oh boys... I think he's come back for his noon feeding.

With the Orca immobilized, the trio try a desperate approach. Hooper dons his scuba gear and enters the ocean inside a shark proof cage, intending to stab the shark in the mouth with a hypodermic spear filled with strychnine nitrate. The shark instead destroys the cage, causing Hooper to lose the spear and flee to the seabed.

Quint: (seeing Hooper's equipment) What are you? Some kind of half-assed astronaut?
(examining the shark cage) 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) Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark's in the water. Our shark. Hooper, what exactly can you do with these things of yours?
Hooper: Well, I think I can pump 20 cc's of strictnine nitrate into him, if I can get close enough.
Quint: Can you get this little needle through his skin?
Hooper: No, I can't do that. But if I can get him close enough to this cage, I think that I can get him in the mouth or the eye...
Brody: That shark will rip that cage to pieces!
Hooper: You got any better suggestions?

As Quint and Brody raise the remnants of the cage, the shark throws itself onto the boat, causing the boat to begin sinking. Quint slides down towards the shark, slashing at it in vain with his machete before being pulled under and devoured. Brody retreats to the boat's cabin, which is now partly submerged, and throws a pressurized air tank into the shark's mouth when it rams its way inside. Brody equips himself with an M1 Garand rifle and climbs the mast of the rapidly listing vessel. After temporarily driving the shark off with a harpoon, Brody begins shooting at the air tank still wedged in the shark's mouth. He finally scores a hit, exploding the tank and blasting the shark's head to pieces. As the shark's carcass drifts toward the seabed, Brody reunites with Hooper. They cobble together a raft out of debris from the Orca and paddle back to Amity Island.

Brody: Smile you son of a bitch. (he shoots at the air tank, Jaws blows up, and Brody laughs maniacally)

(last lines)
Brody: What day is this?
Hooper: It's Wednesday... eh, it's Tuesday, I think.
Brody: Think the tide's with us?
Hooper: Keep kicking.
Brody: I used to hate the water...
Hooper: I can't imagine why.

Steven Spielberg's breakout film JAWS is widely regarded as the film that began the "summer movie blockbuster era", and is one of the first "high concept" films. With horror, thrills, suspense, and special effects, it's basically a frightening bubblegum potboiler. Not excessively violent or gruesome like traditional horror films, JAWS nonetheless manages to create an icy frost in every viewer's veins. Based on the true story of a Great White shark which terrorized the shores of New Jersey in the summer of 1916, JAWS is an ingenious adaptation of Peter Benchley's 1974 best-selling novel inspired by the incident. With brilliant direction and state-of-the-art special effects, it's an edge-of-your-seat thriller filled with suspense. Sharp editing ensures that not a single scene is wasted, and each builds on that which came before. Overlapping dialogue is completely realistic, and it's a remarkable movie with a perfect pace that simply refuses to slacken.

If ever there was justification for being terrified of sticking a toe in the ocean, it's JAWS. Steven Spielberg's horror masterpiece--arguably the director's finest movie--set the benchmark for summertime blockbusters and few have been able to match its sheer ability to grip an audience. JAWS eventually grossed more than $470 million worldwide, $1.9 billion in 2008 dollars, and was the highest grossing box office film until STAR WARS (1977) debuted two years later. These two films mark the beginning of the new business model in American filmmaking.

The cast also includes: Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody), Carl Gottlieb (Ben Meadows), Jonathan Filley (Tom Cassidy), Ted Grossman (Estuary Victim), Jay Mello (Sean Brody), Dr. Robert Nevin (Medical Examiner), Peter Benchley (TV Interviewer), Chris Anastasio, John Bahr, Allison Caine, Robert Carroll, Edward Chalmers Jr., Robert Chambers, Denise Cheshire, Fritzi Jane Courtney, Cyprian R. Dube, Paul Goulart, Mike Haydn, Duncan Inches, Belle McDonald, Donald Poole, Peggy Scott, Steven Spielberg, Alfred Wilde, and Dick Young. John Williams composed the original music. The screenplay was written by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb with some dialogue from Howard Sackler, John Milius, and Robert Shaw--based on Peter Benchley's novel. Steven Spielberg directed.

Three mechanical sharks were made for the production: a full model for underwater shots, one that turned from left to right, with the left side completely exposed to the internal machinery, and a similar right to left model, with the right side exposed. Location shooting occurred on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, chosen because the ocean had a sandy bottom which helped the mechanical sharks to operate smoothly and still provide a realistic location. The three mechanical sharks frequently malfunctioned, due to the hydraulic innards being corroded by salt water. They were collectively nicknamed "Bruce" by the production team after Spielberg's lawyer. Disgruntled crew members gave the film the nickname "Flaws".

The DVD looks great, and extras include a "making of" documentary, deleted scenes and outtakes, over 700 photos, a "Get Out of the Water" trivia game, screen savers, trailers, animated menus, and production notes. One of the deleted scenes hints at the romantic subplot that the final version of the film omitted, and one of them features a battle among humans on the water to get the shark and the reward money.

JAWS won Oscars for Film Editing, Music (Original Score) and Sound. John Williams's score was ranked at # 6 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years of Film Scores. The main "shark" theme is an eerie and haunting simple alternating pattern of two notes, E and F, a classic piece of suspense music synonymous with approaching danger. In 2001 the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

The film was followed by three sequels, none with the participation of Steven Spielberg or Peter Benchley: JAWS 2 (1978), JAWS 3-D (1983) and JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987). A video game titled "Jaws Unleashed" was produced in 2006. All sequels failed to match the success of the original. In fact, their combined domestic grosses barely cover half of the original's.

JAWS 2 (1978) has a similar storyline. Four years have passed since the events of the first film. During a diving expedition to the wreckage of the Orca, a shark attacks the divers. Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) becomes convinced that another Great White is lurking in the waters around Amity when he discovers a camera from the doomed diving expedition, a beached whale, and the remains of a woman. He orders Deputy Jeff Hendricks (Jeffrey Kramer) to investigate and recover the underwater camera from the missing divers. Meanwhile, the shark attacks a water skier named Terri (Christine Freeman) and drags her into the water. Terri tries to pull herself up but fails and gets eaten. The driver of the speedboat defends herself by first throwing a gasoline tank at the shark and then igniting the fuel with a flare gun. The shark begins to burn, as does the inside of the boat and the driver. Then the fire ignites the actual gas tank and the speedboat explodes.

A woman who lives on the beach sees the explosion and reports it to the authorities. The shark manages to escape, but is severely scarred. Brody becomes suspicious after no remains of the water skier or the driver are found in the wreck. Meanwhile, Deputy Hendricks searches for the remains of the victims, accidentally hooking an underwater power line. In an attempt to get rid of what he thinks is the shark, he is fired from his job as police chief. His two sons sneak off with some friends to go sailing--unaware of the shark that is lurking in the water beneath them, just waiting to strike. The plot is similar to that of a slasher film, in which the main antagonist stalks and kills teenagers one by one. In the end the shark gets electrocuted and is killed. Brody paddles a raft over to the wreckage of a sailboat and helps Jackie Peters (Donna Wilkes) and Sean Brody (Marc Gilpin) get into the raft. He then paddles them back towards the others at Cable Junction to await rescue.

JAWS 2 became the highest-grossing sequel in history at the time of its release and remained in the all-time Top 25 for more than two decades. The film's tagline, "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...", became one of the most famous in movie history and has been parodied and homaged several times. Although there are two further films in the series, JAWS 2 is generally regarded as the best of the sequels. However, it is repetitive and unsatisfactory, just made to cash in on the success of JAWS.

The film was released on DVD in 2001. Many reviewers praised it for the quantity of special features, with DVD Authority asserting that it had "more than a lot of titles labeled as 'Special Edition' discs". It includes a 45 minute documentary produced by Laurent Bouzereau, who is responsible for many of the documentaries about Universal films. Actor Keith Gordon reminisces in a short feature, and Szwarc explains the phonetic problems with its French title, "Les Dents de la mer 2". The disc also contains a variety of deleted scenes. One such scene shows the selectmen voting to fire Brody. The Mayor (Murray Hamilton) is the only person to vote to save him. Also included is footage of the shark attacking the coast guard pilot underwater after his helicopter had capsized. The scene was cut because of the struggle with the ratings board to acquire a PG certificate. Although the audio was presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, a reviewer for Film Freak Central comments that "Williams' score often sounds deceptively stereophonic". The BBC, though, suggest that the mix "really demands the added bass that a 5.1 effort could have lent it".

JAWS 3-D (1983) (aka JAWS 3) is a horror–thriller film directed by Joe Alves and starring Dennis Quaid. It is the second sequel to Steven Spielberg's 1975 classic JAWS. At SeaWorld, a new water park with underwater tunnels and lagoons, a baby Great White shark infiltrates the barrier, attacking and killing water skiers and park employees. Once the baby shark is captured, it becomes apparent that it was the mother, a much larger shark, which was the real killer.

The oldest son from the first two Jaws films, Michael Brody (Dennis Quaid) now works as the chief engineer of SeaWorld in Florida. Michael lives with his girlfriend Katherine Morgan (Bess Armstrong), who is senior biologist at the park. Katherine and her assistants wonder why the dolphins are so afraid of leaving their pen. Shelby Overman (Harry Grant), one of the mechanics, dives into the water to repair the gates. He is attacked by a shark and killed, leaving only a severed arm. The baby Great White is captured and nursed to partial health and it is exhibited as the first Great White in captivity. However, it soon dies, and the film goes on and on. In the end Michael kills the villainous Great White shark with a grenade.

This film is notable for making use of 3-D film during the revived interest in the technology in the 1980s, among other horror films such as FRIDAY THE 13th Part III (1982) and AMITYVILLE 3-D (1983). Cinema audiences could wear disposable cardboard polarized glasses to create the illusion of a three dimensional film for some scences. Several shots and sequences were designed to utilise the effect, such as the shark's destruction. Since the 3-D is ineffective in home viewing, the alternative title JAWS III is used for television broadcasts and DVD releases. JAWS 3-D is unexciting, boring, noisy, and strangely unrelated to JAWS and JAWS 2. But the 3-D effects are excellent.

JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987) (aka JAWS 4) is a horror–thriller film directed by Joseph Sargent. It is the third and final sequel to Steven Spielberg's classic JAWS. This movie is a mediocre superfluous retread of the others. It proves that each sequel is progressively worse--and it is the worst! The film focuses on Ellen Brody's (Lorraine Gary) convictions that a shark is stalking her family, and the story returns to the Brody family in Amity Island. Martin Brody had died of a heart attack, although his widow, Ellen Brody claims that "it was the fear of the shark that killed him." She discusses with her youngest son Sean (Mitchell Anderson) and his fiance Tiffany (Mary Smith) arrangements for the Christmas season. Now working as a police deputy in Amity, Sean is dispatched to clear a log from a buoy. As he does so, he is attacked by a shark and his arm is torn off. When the shark comes again, he is killed as his screams are drowned out by the carol singers on the island.

Ellen is convinced that the shark had deliberately targeted Sean due to some evil curse, and visits her eldest son Michael (Lance Guest) in the Bahamas. Michael now works as a marine biologist. Fearing he will be attacked next by the shark, Ellen hopes to convince him to take up a new job on dry land. She meets Hoagie (Michael Caine), and they begin dating. Michael's wife Carla (Karen Young) is an artist and one day during her art exhibit, Ellen's granddaughter Thea (Judith Barsi) asks if she can go out on a banana boat with her friend Margaret and her mother (Diane Hetfield). The shark attacks the boat with Thea on it. The shark ends up devouring Margaret's mother in the process with blood flying everywhere, leaving Thea unharmed but in a state of shock. Ellen becomes convinced that the shark has tracked her family to the Bahamas. She takes a boat out to sea on her own, intent on confronting and killing the shark to break the curse, or sacrificing herself hoping the shark will leave her family alone.

Hoagie flies Michael and his friend Jake (Mario Van Peebles) out to sea so that they can find Ellen quickly. He lands the plane on the sea, but the shark sinks it. Looking out for the shark while using a device that emits electromagnetic impulses to drive the shark mad, Jake moves to the end of the prow. The shark unexpectedly leaps from the surface of the water to grab Jake, biting into him and dragging him beneath the surface in a gory fashion. The device causes the shark to repeatedly leap out of the water and Ellen steers the boat directly for the shark, impaling it on the broken bowsprit, which puts presure on the device and causes it to explode. After killing the shark, they find Jake mauled but alive. Near the end of the film, Ellen is relieved that the curse of the shark is no longer on her family. The film ends too abruptly as Hoagie flies Ellen back to Amity Island.

No reference is made to the character development or events depicted in JAWS 3-D. In its predecessor, Michael is an engineer for SeaWorld, whereas here he is a marine research scientist. Sean is not associated with the police force in JAWS 3-D, and there is no mention of their partners. Even one of the Universal Studios press releases for JAWS: THE REVENGE omits JAWS 3-D by referring to JAWS: THE REVENGE as the "third film of the remarkable Jaws trilogy."

JAWS: THE REVENGE was filmed on location in New England and in the Caribbean, and completed on the Universal lot. Like the first two films of the series, Martha's Vineyard was the location of the fictional Amity Island for the opening scenes of the film. Although financially successful, the film received a poor critical reception, and earned the lowest amount of money from the franchise. It is considered by film critics to be one of the worst movies ever made.

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