On June 20, 1975, moviegoers collectively changed their attitudes about swimming in the ocean. Jaws also reinvented the summer movie season, and scary movies, overnight. Much like Alfred Hitchcock’s shower scene, this movie made audiences rethink potential sources of Things to Watch Out For. The sophomore effort of one of filmmaking’s living legends, Steven Spielberg, it still ranks as one of the world’s best-loved movies, with a commanding 100% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
My personal favorite element of this classic flick is the way the shark was represented; yes, I loved the acting performances of each and every human character, but the character of the shark upstaged everyone. And that shark’s name is Bruce. It’s hilarious to note that the name was attached to the mechanical shark(s) in honor of Spielberg’s lawyer, also named Bruce. Check this out, the last of them was recently found in a junkyard.
Here’s some awesome trivia from IMDb:
During pre-production, director Steven Spielberg, accompanied by friends Martin Scorsese, George Lucas and 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.
Eat him, Bruce!
Editing is key, though. With a severely effective assist from the music. Jaws was Verna Fields’ last movie as an editor, and it is her best work. Spielberg came close to shutting down the whole project when he realized the fake shark just looked stupid, but it was Verna who calmly told him she could make it look real through wide shots, floating barrels, and the use of very selective, short shots. Let the viewers fill in the gaps with their imaginations, and they will believe in a monster from the deep.
As Spielberg says in this interview, “Had the shark been working, perhaps the film would have made half the money, and been half as scary.”
Some still shots from a classic, courtesy Universal.
Hold onto your fridge, it looks like Dr. Jones is going on another adventure soon. No obnoxiously long title yet, but it’s been leaked that the new script will take him (and Mutt) to the Bermuda Triangle, and George Lucas/Steven Spielberg will helm the fifth entry in the series. Reports say that this will be the final installment, and it will “stay true to the series’ roots, and won’t contain lots of state-of-the-art special effects.” Maybe.
That’s what they said last time. Then they opened the film with CGI groundhogs.
My hope is this will actually be pretty darned good, a triumphant return to greatness, like what happened when The Last Crusade successfully washed the taste of Temple of Doom from our brains.
UPDATE: Producer Frank Marshall tweets:
The rumor about INDY 5 is completely false. Nothing has changed, we are not shooting next year and still in the research phase…
Hmm. Well, if it’s “completely” false, why does he indicate the intention? If anything, this is more good news; they’re taking their time to write a good script.
Here’s a super-short documentary about the making of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s amazing what memories you can stir up by finding things on YouTube; I totally remember the poster advertising this, mid 1977.
It came to pass during this hellacious Station Fire in the Los Angeles mountains, that the house where Spielberg placed his most beloved story was threatened by flames. Just picture a wall of flames behind the house, and you got the full picture.
Interesting thing I never realized before about that script. Imdb confirms that there are no last names used, just first names, and a bunch of characters like “Medic” that show how basic and steampunk that script was. Bare bones and truth.
Hey, I wonder how the plot would have unfolded if E.T. had seen this view as he peered over the ridge?
Freshly leaked scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, one of my favorite Spielberg flicks! It connects with the early scene involving the air traffic control tower monitoring an encounter. I like the rewrite where the two met at the South American airstrip better, but this is still very interesting to watch, and imagine a different cut.