Days of Summer #9: Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” (1975)


In my book, there’s a distinct difference between “Summer Movies” and “Movies to Watch During Summer”, although they’re not mutually exclusive terms. While the term “Summer Movie” denotes a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster released during the months of May, June, July, or August, it is typically the case that these films have very little to do with the actual season. In this feature, I’ll be ranting and raving about my favorite “Movies to Watch During Summer”, to anybody who cares to listen.


Jaws (1975, Dir: Steven Spielberg)

Dear Jaws,

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry it took me eight weeks to get around to mentioning you, the undisputed king of summer cinema.

I know you were gritting your five rows of razor sharp teeth in frustration as I wrote about Summer SchoolFriday the 13th, Part VI. Captain Ron. Uncle Sam?!?

The indignity! Having to play second fiddle to these amateurs! You’re just not used to this kind of treatment.

But, in my defense, do you really need any more exposure?

You’re the breakout film of the most popular director to ever live. You have perhaps the most instantly recognizable score of any film. After 40 years, you remain the sole horror film that is universally revered by all audiences across the planet, young and old. You won 3 Academy Awards and were also nominated for Best Picture, an award that many still believe you should have won (Cuckoo’s Nest won that year, but we can talk about that some other time).

What’s more, you invented the entire notion of a “summer blockbuster”, which gave rise to Star Wars… Indiana Jones… Back to the Future… Jurassic Park… Batman and Robin… Wild Wild West… Transformers 4…?

All right, so maybe you have a few things to answer for. Perhaps your legacy has done more to harm American cinema as a whole than it has done to help it.

But damned if it isn’t really hard to stay mad at you.

Maybe it’s that charming animatronic shark that isn’t glimpsed until an hour into the movie, showing a level of restraint and artistry that just isn’t seen much these days in summer movies. Or maybe it’s the small town charm of Amity in the summertime, as contrasted with the fish-related terror that plagues it. But it might also be the knowledge that Robert Shaw truly was drunk for every day of filming in his iconic role as Captain Quint, which is both funny and terrifying. It’s funnifying!

In any event, everybody knows that summer isn’t complete without you, and I don’t need to go on and on about it. You’re the undisputed King Of Summer, Jaws, and you deserve the title.




Best Way to Watch: It’s Jaws. Within 20 miles of you, it’s playing on the big screen either at an old revival movie house or in a big multiplex chain’s “X-treme Summer Rewind”. Make the trip to see it the way it was always intended.

Best Paired with: Quint’s favorite of seared swordfish and apricot brandy. For best results, bring enough to share with the whole theater.

Further Viewing: Jaws spawned no shortage of sequels and rip-offs, but the clear standout is 1978’s gloriously goofy Pirahna from future Gremlins director Joe Dante and cheapo producer legend Roger Corman, which concerns an attacking school of man-eating piranha, engineered by the military to survive in cold water for some reason.

Pirahna went on to have a bastard family of sequels and remakes all its own, including: James Cameron‘s chef-d’œuvre Pirahna II: The Spawning, which had the sense of mind to add wings to the fish and Lance fucking Henriksen to the cast; a 1995 made-for-TV remake which, in true Roger Corman style, recycled a ton of footage from the original; Alexandre Aja‘s insanely violent gore-and-tits opus Pirahna 3D, which is way better than a second remake has any right to be; and one unironically awful sequel-to-the-second-remake Pirahna 3DD, which somehow managed to be boring despite cameos from David Hasselhoff and “Days of Summer” favorite Gary Busey.


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Categories: Features, Reviews

One Comment on “Days of Summer #9: Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” (1975)”

  1. July 12, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    Gotta love the original “Summer Blockbuster”! Kept me out of the ocean for a while, and it’s always fun to revisit. Nice review.

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