Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Jaws" Opens on this day in 1975

On this day in 1975, Jaws, a film directed by Steven Spielberg that made countless viewers afraid to go into the water, opens in theaters. When this film first opened my best friend, Tony, and I had just returned from a short "get wild" vacation in Los Angeles and Southern California. We drove down to Colma (just south of San Francisco) see see the movie at a drive-in theater. The next morning we got up before dawn and drove up to meet Tony's brother at Bodega Bay and spend the day fishing at the annual Shark Derby up there. Going shark fishing for the first time the day after seeing Jaws was a really, really bad idea...

The story of a great white shark that terrorizes a New England resort town became an instant blockbuster and the highest-grossing film in movie history until it was bested by 1977's Star Wars. Jaws was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Picture category and took home three Oscars, for Best Film Editing, Best Original Score and Best Sound. The film, a breakthrough for director Spielberg, then 27 years old, spawned three sequels.

The film starred Roy Scheider as police chief Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as a marine biologist named Matt Hooper and Robert Shaw as a grizzled fisherman called Quint. It was set in the fictional beach town of Amity, and based on a best-selling novel, released in 1973, by Peter Benchley. Subsequent water-themed Benchley bestsellers also made it to the big screen, including The Deep (1977).

Jaws put now-famed director Steven Spielberg on the Hollywood map. Spielberg, largely self-taught in filmmaking, made his feature-length directorial debut with The Sugarland Express in 1974. The film was critically well-received but a box-office flop. Following the success of Jaws, Spielberg went on to become one of the most influential, iconic people in the film world, with such epics as Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), ET: the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Jurassic Park (1993), Schindler's List (1993) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). E.T., Jaws and Jurassic Park rank among the 10 highest-grossing movies of all time.

Personal Note of Interest for Margaret and Darryl:

You are going to start seeing more sailors and marines around town next year. An amphibious ready group will move its homeport from Virginia to North Florida beginning in late 2013. The amphibious transport dock USS New York will leave Naval Station Norfolk for Naval Station Mayport, in Jacksonville, Fla., during the last few months of 2013and the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima and dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry will move in 2014.

Live Long and Prosper...

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