Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is one of my all time favorite films. I wasn’t even born yet when it came out, but it is a piece of cinematic history. This is an incredible film that still continues to blow me away every time I watch it.
Jaws was released on June 20th 1975 and it gave birth to the modern day blockbuster film. It was the first film to open in hundreds of theaters across the country at the same time, and it ended up become the most successful movie of all time until Star Wars knocked it out two years later.
Had Jaws not happened I don’t think movies would have been shaped the way they have over the years. Jaws has influenced almost every aspect of filmmaking and story telling. Without Jaws, we may have never seen movies like Star Wars come to the big screen. To put things into perspective for you, had Jaws not been successful producer Alan Ladd may have never taken a chance on George Lucas’ vision of Star Wars.
I recently watched a great documentary on the making of Jaws and it really opened my eyes to how much of a disaster it was trying to make this film. Spielberg called it his Vietnam, and he literally had recurring nightmares that he was still filming the movie after it was over. But every little problem they went through helped create something that made the film even better. Out of all the pain and anguish Spielberg and his crew went through to complete this film, came a masterpiece that has become one of the greatest most influential films ever made.
Not only was Jaws a great film, but it scared the hell out of people. My dad said at the time when people went into the ocean, the only thing they had on there mind was a fear that they would be attacked by a shark. It put people in a panic and people were chartering boats to go out into the ocean and kill as many sharks as they could, to rid the world of this menace.
I thought I’d share with you my favorite scene of the movie. In my opinion This scene, is one of the most horrific and perfect scenes ever filmed. It is the story USS Indianapolis as told by the awesome character Quint.
Here’s an original advertisement for the film. You can see more at Reel Distraction.
Here are a few images from the behind the scenes of the film.
Click Here if you want to see some more cool Jaws photos.
Here’s a few other little bis of trivia you might be interested in knowing.
Steven Spielberg wanted Sterling Hayden for the role of Quint. Hayden, however, was in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid tax. All Hayden’s income from acting was subject to a levy by the IRS, so there was an attempt to circumvent that: Hayden was also a writer, so one idea was to pay him union scale for his acting, and buy a story from him (his literary income wasn’t subject to levy) for a large sum. It was concluded that the IRS would see through this scheme, so Robert Shaw was cast
During pre-production, director Steven Spielberg, accompanied by friends Martin Scorsese, George Lucasand John Milius, visited the effects shop where “Bruce” the shark was being constructed. Lucas stuck his head in the shark’s mouth to see how it worked and, as a joke, Milius and Spielberg sneaked to the controls and made the jaw clamp shut on Lucas’ head. Unfortunately, and rather prophetically, considering the later technical difficulties the production would suffer, the shark malfunctioned, and Lucas got stuck in the mouth of the shark. When Spielberg and Milius were finally able to free him, the three men ran out of the workshop, afraid they’d done major damage to the creature.
Charlton Heston was considered for the role of Chief Brody. Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms, Jon Voight and Jan-Michael Vincent were considered for the role of Hooper.
When the shark attacks Hooper’s cage, there’s live footage of a real Great White with a rope hanging from its mouth. This shark’s mouth is clearly much smaller than the shark’s mouth when it attacks the boat moments later. These scenes were filmed by noted shark photographers Ron Taylor and Valerie Taylor with the help of shark expert Rodney Fox specifically for the movie. Because the Great White sharks they filmed would be smaller than the mechanical shark in the movie, they constructed a smaller version of Hooper’s shark cage. Inside the cage they alternately used a small mannequin or a little person. One of the sharks they attracted got caught in the cage’s cables and tore it apart trying to escape. The footage was so good that they changed the script to reflect the destroyed cage and Hooper escaping by hiding on the ocean floor. However, the small person used in the scene refused to go back in the miniature cage, which was damaged in the incid
The mechanical shark spent most of the movie broken-down, and was unavailable for certain shots. This led Steven Spielberg to use the camera as the “shark”, and film from the shark’s point of view. Many think this added to the “chilling/haunting” quality in the final release saying that it would have made it too “cheesy” had they shown the shark as much as originally planned.
Robert Shaw could not stand Richard Dreyfuss and they argued all the time, which resulted in some good tension between Hooper and Quint.
To create the sound of a drowning woman during post-production, Susan Backlinie was positioned, head upturned, in front of a microphone, while water from above was poured down into her throat
When composer John Williams originally played the score for Steven Spielberg, Spielberg laughed and said, “That’s funny, John, really. But what did you really have in mind for the theme of Jaws (1975)?” Spielberg later stated that without Williams’s score, the movie would only have been half as successful.
In the original script, Quint was killed off by drowning. The rope from the harpoon that he fires at the shark wraps around his foot and he is pulled under by the shark, calling for Brody to give him the knife. (This was also the way the character was killed off in the book and, according to an interview with Steven Spielberg about this scene, it is similar to the way Ahab dies in “Moby Dick”.) However, it was decided that Quint should be eaten, so the script was changed to what is in the movie.