14 August 1998 | TacoBilly
"You yell barracuda, everybody says, 'Hunh, what?' You yell shark, and we got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July."
This is the movie that started it all. I'm not talking about the Hollywood blockbuster, or the insane madness that sent thousands of misunderstood Great Whites to their deaths, I'm talking about the beginning of my interest in movies. This is the movie that did it. I couldn't tell you how old I was when I first saw it, but I do remember this is the movie I made my parents rent time and time again when we went to the video store. This is the movie that drove my parents and some of my friends nuts while I watched it day after day after day when my mom gave it to me for Christmas. This is the movie that made me want to turn a real interest in the movies from just a hobby and into a career. For that, I owe Spielberg, Benchley, Scheider, Shaw, Dreyfuss, Williams, Fields and everyone else a sincere and heart-felt thank you. I own this movie on every format in which it is available. I love it that much. I've probably seen it between 200 and 300 times. I guess you can say it is an obsession. A sick obsession. The plot, the pacing, the editing, the score, the acting, and, oh yes, the shark. Who cares that is fake? By the time we finally get to see it, do we care? Truly, a more suspenseful movie was never made. Several come close, but none quite reaches the primal level the JAWS does. No other film so effectively taps into our fear of the unknown, and then gives it a riveting score to boot. No other movie grips us so strongly with heart stopping suspense that we find ourselves nearly falling off our seats. And no other movie leaves us feeling so spent and wasted after a viewing. And the reason for all the fear, suspense and emotional withdrawal is not top-notch special effects. It was the mid-70's. You can barely apply top -notch to anything of that era. The reason the movie does all that to us is that it is a great story. It is filled with real people, who have real jobs, and who have real fears. And who must now confront a real shark. Can you think of anything more terrifying that getting on a rickety, leaky boat to kill a 25-foot shark when you already have a paralyzing fear of the water? I can't. And Martin Brody sure can't. And so, no matter what ranking JAWS may get on AFI's list of the 100 greatest movies, or TV Guides list of the top 50 movies, or any list for that matter, JAWS will always come in number one on mine. Steven, Peter, Roy, Robert, Richard, John, and Verna -- thank you. Not for just giving me a sense of direction in my life, not for just making me want to be a screenwriter, but also for making a movie that still thrills me as much now when I watch it as when it did when I saw it for the very first time.