The 40th anniversary of Jaws 

The shark is approaching — an enormous 25-footer. We may not see it right away, but we know it's coming, because, with only two alternating notes — E and F if you're wondering — John Williams' iconic score tells us that death is nipping at our heels. It begins slowly, like the pulse of a matchless predator staking out its next meal. Then a second, racing pulse is added to the mix — this is the prey. Then a third is added, the throbbing pulse of white-knuckled audience members, sitting on dry land, in the dark, watching helplessly while a killer shark wreaks bloody havoc along the coast of Amity Island, a New England resort dependent on beach tourism. Jaws was never just a horror movie.

In 1975 audiences lined up in record-breaking numbers to see an aquatic creature feature where the monster was often conspicuously absent. The "creature," which "survived millions of years of evolution without change, without passion, and without logic," was evoked primarily by Williams' soundtrack and the screaming and flailing of its victims. The more immediate threats were greedy humans worried that some whistle-blower will yell "shark," and businesses will have a panic on their hands on the Fourth of July.

click to enlarge werec_jawsposter.jpg

Jaws was a risky proposition for Universal Studios. Producers knew the property was hot, but the creative team started out with no script, no shark, and no cast. The 27-year-old director, Steven Spielberg, had some experience with horror, having worked on episodes of TV's Night Gallery. But his first film, Sugarland Express, had tanked at the box office. Riding the wave of an effective (and unheard of) $700,000 TV advertising campaign, this big fish story starring Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss, quickly became the highest-grossing film in box-office history. Well, until Star Wars came along two years later and the battle of the age of summer blockbusters began in earnest.

On Wednesday, June 24th, Memphis audiences will have another chance to experience the original blockbuster as it was meant be experienced — on the big screen. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Jaws is screening at 500 theaters across America. You can catch it at the Paradiso at 7 p.m. But you're probably gonna need a bigger boat.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment



Politics Beat Blog

New Actions Against Ranked Choice Voting

Hungry Memphis

Lucky Cat featured at City Block Salumeria dinner

Hungry Memphis

Rise Opening March 10th

Hungry Memphis

Whiskey Warmer, other events

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Music Video Monday: Daz Rinko

From My Seat

The 1980s "Grizzlies"

Tiger Blue

Tigers 68, Tulane 63

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Black Panther

Hungry Memphis

Arcade to expand


More by Chris Davis

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation