Dickie Goodman had a top five novelty hit, "Mr. Jaws",
which mixed his rapid-fire mock interviews with answers
that were snipped from contemporary hit singles.
It began something like this...
Announcer: "We are here on the beach, where a giant shark
has just eaten a girl swimmer. Mr. Jaws, how was it?"
Mr. Jaws: "Dyno-mite!"
Announcer: "And what did she say when you grabbed her?"
Mr. Jaws: "Please Mister Please"
I excerpt "Mr. Jaws", not only because it was a great
novelty record, but because it demonstrates the cultural
impact of "Jaws". It became the biggest grossing film
of all time, eclipsing "The Godfather", and subsequently
eclipsed by "Star Wars". Also making the top 40 was
the theme from "Jaws", an imposing classical score by
John Williams that succeeds in recreating the suspense
of a shark closing in on its prey.
"Jaws" is one of the best horror films of all time.
Most of the film is consumed by Chief Brody (Roy Scheider),
his humdrum family life, his conflicts with the Mayor
(Murray Hamilton) and his male bonding with shark hunters
Quint (Robert Shaw) and Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss).
But the film still has similarities to slasher films,
with the aquatic version of Freddy Krueger scoring
five victims in gruesome fashion.
What separates "Jaws" from its landlubber successors
(the currently-playing version is "I Still Know What You
Did Last Summer") is that the monster is more credible,
the victims are not limited to comely teenagers, the script
(based on Peter Benchley's bestselling potboiler, the
screenplay co-written by Benchley and Carl Gottlieb) is
much better, and Director Steven Spielberg is much more
skilled at making horror suspense not seem like bad
horror comedy. Of course, the cast is better as well.
Scheider skillfully underplays, allowing scenes to be
stolen by excitable Dreyfuss and salty Shaw. Hamilton
also gives a great supporting performance. His character
is in denial, hoping that the shark will just go away
so that the tourists will return.
"Jaws" was plagued by production problems. The mechanical
shark didn't work, and shooting on location on the sea
led to technical difficulties. But the results were
worth it, from both a commercial and critical aspect.
Copyright © 1997 Brian Koller