First truly warm day of the year (an unexpected 72 degrees) turns my thoughts to summer which, of course, means it’s time to watch JAWS.
I love this movie. Despite its faults, it remains one of my all-time favorites, mostly because of the relationship that develops between the three main characters: Brody (Roy Scheider), Hooper (Richard Dreyfus) and (my admitted favorite) Quint (Robert Shaw).
JAWS opened in the United States in June 1975, the same month I graduated high school. This was the big leap before college in the fall (little did I know that my chosen school would go belly-up a year later), and I meant to make the most of it. I was blissfully job-free that summer. Never what one would call a party-girl, I spent the next three months horseback riding nearly every day with Eileen Accurso, my best friend at the time,and singing to lots of loud rock and roll (“Hotel California” comes to mind) as we drove around in her Skylark. (LOVED that car!)
The first time I saw JAWS was with my parents. Not the choicest company for an eighteen year old girl, but there you have it. What I remember most was the middle-aged gentleman who sat in front of me. Seconds after the first shark attack, he yelped “Holy shit!” and vanished, hunched so far down in his seat that I couldn’t even see the top of his head. He continued to shriek periodically throughout the entire movie. By the end (the climactic scene where Brody blows up the shark), this guy was screaming, “Kill it! Kill it!” It was great. I had more fun watching that guy than I did the movie.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I went to see JAWS that summer. It had a notoriously long run, so I had the leisure to go as often as I liked. One afternoon, I went to an afternoon showing with my friend Kristin. Moments after she dropped me off at home, Eileen called. Did I want to go see JAWS? Hell, yes! My mother blinked at me in confusion. “Didn’t you just come back from that movie?” “Yeah.” “And you’re going to see it again?” Well…yeah. Of course. Back then, a movie ticket cost something like two dollars, maybe a bit over for a blockbuster like JAWS. Two bucks! We could spend all day at the theatre if we wanted, moving from screen to screen and still having money left over to go to Howard Johnson’s later for club sandwiches and milk shakes (a staple for Eileen and me).
That time is long ago and far away, but each year warm weather brings it to mind along with the memories of sitting in the dark of the movie theatre alternately cheering both the shark and our heroes.