Fourth Of July-We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Blog

“You yell barracuda, and everyone says “Huh? What?” You yell shark we’ve got a panic on our hands on the fourth of July.”

The Fourth of July has always been the ideal day for me to watch my favourite film: Jaws. Although this time around I may have to do a little bit of juggling. It is World Cup quarter-final day after all.

I first saw the film when I was a child-I can’t remember just how young I was. The certificate was only a PG (on original release it was an A), which is surprising what with Quint being munched upon in glorious technicolour and all. Thirty seven years after its originaI  release it was upgraded to a 12A. I went to see it at the cinema-or the pictures, as we called it, this being long before the days of the multi-screen complexes. I went with my mum and my brother, he being eighteen months younger than me.

I think that age gap counted.

During the film, whenever he heard the music, you know the dum-dum, dum-dum, he would put his coat over his head. Writing dum-dum just doesn’t do John William’s score justice. Try watching it without the music. It is totally different. Totally tamer.

So, whenever he heard the music, which signified the shark’s approach and thus impending danger, he would hide beneath the safety of his coat. He would put it over his head until the sound of the screaming and threshing subsided, then he would emerge again much to my cruel amusement. This method served him well, until the scene where the head of Ben Gardner emerges from the hull of his battered boat without any dum-dum warning. From that point on he remained separated from the screen for the remainder of the movie. It was almost a comfort blanket.

Half-way through the film, the lady appeared down at the front, framed against  the screen, her small bulb above her tray signifying that she was selling drinks and ice-cream. Asked if he wanted an ice cream, his hand came up in a slow re-enactment of the buried Carrie, grasping the money. Next what followed was the comical sight of him walking down to the front of the cinema, head tilted at an angle so that he would not have to look at the screen. Then, clutching his cone, his careful manouvering of the steps in the dark gave way to a frantic run as that music suddenly started up again. Once more he slipped beneath the surface, eating his ice-cream in his shark-resistant parka.

It’s funny how Jaws has remained my favourite film. Perhaps there is something about us being impressionable at a young age. Some of my favourite things have come with me over the decades:

Favourite films: Jaws, Star Wars

Favourite actor: Richard Dreyfuss

Favourite group: The Beatles

Favourite book: To Kill A Mockingbird

No doubt there are others too-I will have to give it some thought. I fear I am starting to get a little self-indulgent again.

When talking of favourite films, I have often had the surprised reaction : “Jaws?!” But its not just the rubber fish eating people-its the study of the relationship between the three men who go out to catch it. The humour and the friction, the drunken scar one-upmanship, and who can forget that chilling  USS Indianapolis scene?

I stayed once at a hotel in the Orkney town of Stromness, where I was thrilled to discover that Robert Shaw had once stayed there. Also, George Mackey Brown used to drink in the bar. I could imagine the hard-drinking actor sharing a whisky or three in there with the writer, holed up from the Scottish storms.

Quint and the poet, both shaped by the sea.

So, today is the perfect summer day (in theory, if not weather) to watch Jaws.

To my friends over the pond, I hope you all have a great Fourth of July.

But remember-stay out of the water.

 

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11 thoughts on “Fourth Of July-We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Blog

  1. A great example of music maketh the movie! Your poor brother, I imagine the music might have given him the horrors for many years after.
    One of the Orlando theme parks (Universal I guess) has the Jaws ‘ride’ – corny yet fabulous, can’t miss it sort of fun!
    Happy 4th of July Andy, even though it means jack here :D! (enjoy the footy!)

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  2. A great list! I remember loving Jaws when I was a kid. I probably need to see that again soon. I absolutely love To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s sad that she didn’t publish another book.

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    • I know-an absolute classic then nothing else. Perhaps there is a sense of not measuring up, or perhaps Lee has no inclination to do another. I know she shuns the limelight.

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  3. Did you know that a while back, some kid who watched Jaws and heard the story of the Indianapolis made it a point to look into the story, and was instrumental in the men on the ship being recognized for their sacrifices. You also would not know that the first time I saw Jaws, at The Park Theater, I screamed so much and so loud that I dropped my wallet and never found it again. Ouch!

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    • I didn’t know the former, and loved the latter!
      Reminds me of my Dad telling me about when they went to see Psycho, and my Mum screamed the whole place down during the shower scene. They went a second time, she knew what was coming, and she did it again!

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  4. I wish I had reacted to watching Jaws as well as you did! That might have saved my mum a lot on electricity bills as I dread to think how many times I had to turn the lights on during the night to check for sharks haha.
    I love the Beatles and To Kill a Mockingbird too! (I was so happy when I found out I was studying it for G.C.S.E…. it may have even been one of the reasons which stirred my love of studying literature as I do now.
    What’s your favourite Beatles’ song? I’m quite curious! I know it’s a tough one haha.
    (Even the title of this blog had me laughing!)

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    • Yes Mockingbird was the one thing I took with me from my Eng Lit class. Every father aspires to be like Atticus Finch! The mirror opposite of Atticus is the father in Pig Iron, which I read last year.
      The Beatles-yeah there are looooads! But my favourite is, again, one I heard on my very first compilation which an uncle bought me for my 12th birthday: Hey Bulldog. I like the driving bass, piano, and Lennon’s great vocal. And also the part where they are clowning around. It was originally going to be called Hey Bullfrog, but Paul started barking, pretending to be a dog, making John laugh, and they decided to keep it and change the title. The music and the fun encapsulates everything The Beatles were before it all got serious and the ‘big fall out’.
      Also-In My Life is one of my funeral songs 🙂 Pays to be prepared!
      What about you?

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      • Haha yes, even I aspire to be like Atticus Finch! Without a doubt one of the greatest characters of all time. 🙂
        Hey Bulldog is one of my favourites too! My iPod barely picks up the vocals but I just love the music! My other favourites are ‘I’ve Just Seen a Face’ and their cover of ‘Act Naturally’… But then I remember Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and A Day In The Life… Ahhh…
        I’ve thought a bit about my funeral song too, I’d probably want ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’ as it’s my favourite Dylan song… But I’m always leaving room for the hope he’s two seconds away from recording another hit, haha 🙂

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      • Ah yeah Dylan. Positively 4th Street, Sad Eyed Lady….Visions Of Johanna, Everything Is Broken. There are so many. I saw him a few years back. McCartney too. If everyone has a favourite era, mine would be from mid 60’s to mid 70’s. Beatles, Doors, Kinks, Dylan, Stones, Bowie. And, straight out of the cool closet-Abba 🙂

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