Ray Harryhausen: Maestro Of Stop-Motion Animation

Ray Harryhausen Was Born This Day 95 Years Ago

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“…You must remember that my type of film is very distinctive from the average special-effects picture… but they really belong in a separate category, which I don’t think many people realize” – Ray Harryhausen.

“It all started with King Kong, of course,” Raymond Frederick “Ray” Harryhausen recalled in one interview. His aunt took the then 13 year old schoolboy to watch the movie in 1933. “I knew it was a ‘gorilla picture,’ but didn’t know anything much about it… I saw that at Grauman’s Chinese [Theater, Hollywood Boulevard] and I haven’t been the same since.” 

Like most seven-year-old kids, yours truly – back in the day – lived and breathed dinosaurs, Ancient History and sci-fi. So to find someone like Ray Harryhausen who had not only followed those exact same interests, but lovingly crafted them into his work, was a sheer delight. Some of my most cherished childhood moments involved some of Harryhausen’s most thrilling screen moments. 

When he passed away in May 2013, notes for an Obituary were hastily prepared; unfortunately, none were published anywhere.

What better time, what better place, to put them to good use?  

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 ^ The Master At Work, plus some of his impressive conceptual artwork

“Ray Harryhausen was a legend, a genius, an artist, a filmmaker, a magician, but more than that he was an inspiration. He showed us the way. He showed us that a grown man could play with monsters and get away with it. How cool is that?” – Rick Baker.

From 1949 – when Willis O’Brien hired him as an assistant on Mighty Joe Young (1949), a poor imitation of King Kong – to 1981 (and since), his menagerie of monsters has thrilled generations. For one thing, the sheer diversity of his work is of particular merit. From his original Ymir: the Venusian alien from 20 Million Miles To Earth (1957) which grows to Kong-like proportions and runs rampant through Rome, to the intricate designs of the alien vessels in Earth vs The Flying Saucers (1956) and the bizarre Selenites in First Men In The Moon (1964) Harryhausen produced some of the most striking science fiction and fantasy films.

His unique creative process is even more remarkable when you consider how paltry the budgets of those movies really were... Even the giant octopus from It Came From Beneath The Sea (1953) destroyed the Golden Gate Bridge with only six tentacles. “We couldn’t afford to make the other two,” was Harryhausen’s amusing excuse.

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One Million Years BC (1966) (above); The Valley of Gwangi (1969) (below)

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“We both loved King Kong with all of our hearts… I said: I wanna be a writer some day. He said: well maybe some day you’ll write a screenplay for me and I’ll do dinosaurs for you…” – Ray Bradbury.  

Ray Harryhausen’s first cinematic foray into prehistoric monsters – and also his first solo screen credit – came in 1953 with The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, based on a Saturday Evening Post short story by Ray Bradbury. Here, Harryhausen developed his celebrated Dynamation process; his monster: a Rhedosaurus makes for a truly awesome spectacle and the film became a success.

The Hammer remake: One Million Years BC (1966) was a showcase for Harryhausen at the height of his stop-motion prowess. The scenes of the Allosaur attacking Raquel Welch’s tribe, the duel between the Tyrannosaur and the Triceratops and the encounter with the giant turtle on the beach were particularly memorable. 

In 1969, along came The Valley of Gwangi – in which cowboys had to fend off dinosaurs in the Forbidden Valley. A rare critical and commercial failure for Harryhausen, it marked the end of his personal association with animated dinosaurs. Harryhausen remarked that “Hollywood is noted for glamourizing the actors, and I tried to glamourize the dinosaur as well.” 

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“This master craftsman gave unforgettable shape to figures drawn from those depths where the creatures of myth, legend and dream reside in all of us. They have beguiled children for half a century, haunted their memories as grown-ups and influenced generations of special effects artists” – Leonard Nimoy.

Harryhausen is said to have chosen Jason and the Argonauts (1963) as his personal favourite endeavour. Todd Armstrong (apparently dubbed throughout by another actor) had to contend with various mythical creatures, including the Harpies and the Hydra.

Most fans cite the climactic battle with the army of skeletons as the animator’s most accomplished sequence. Yes, its terror lies in its flawless and intricate execution, enhanced dramatically by thumping music from Bernard Hermann. But for me, the moment when Talos suddenly creaks his head around to stare down at Hercules, cuing another fabulous Bernard Hermann score, never fails to induce the goosebumps!

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^ The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

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^ The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973)

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^ Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977)

“Seventh Voyage was the first Harryhausen feature to be filmed in Technicolor and Dynamation… Golden Voyage… carries a sense of mystery and wonder quite unlike that of any other fantasy film… The Eye of the Tiger was not the film it might have been…” – Phil Edwards. 

A fascinating factor of the Harryhausen portfolio was the trilogy of Sinbad adventures. In 1958, the The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad set the box office alight with its enticing blend of eastern adventure and sensational animated figures: the dragon, the two-headed roc, but it was that horned cyclops that stole every scene. The sensational duel with the skeleton was deemed so frightening, the British Film Censor deleted the scene(!) in order to grant the film a ‘U’ Certificate.

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) did well to recapture Seventh’s exotic charm. It had an excellent cast and wondrous location photography alongside startling effects. The highlight almost certainly was the battle with the six-armed goddess Kali, one of Harryhausen’s more exciting accomplishments.

Although it had strange bug-eyed bipeds, a troglodyte, even a baboon, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) could not compete with its forebears, critically or commercially. No matter. For me, it was still Harryhausen – i.e. it still held the power to amaze.

“Sinbad was a breakaway from the mad monsters and dinosaurs-on-the-loose…” Harryhausen explained. “That type of inexpensive exploitation picture was very popular in those days… We had to include a lot of destruction and fast movement, or we couldn’t sell the idea to the studio.”  

Incidentally, at one point, a “Sinbad on Mars” was mooted. Whatever happened to that? 

“It’s in limbo,” the Master sighed.

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ray-medusaTHE KRAKEN CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981)

“He’s great, he’s funny… First, Ray talks you through it. Then he will tell you… how you are going to fight the creature. Then Ray comes in with a big cardboard cutout. He says: ‘This is how big the monster is. This is where the monster is going to go'” – Harry Hamlin.   

Clash of the Titans (1981) turned out to be his final – but most ambitious – movie. Incidentally, it would have the largest budget of them all. As Perseus, Harry Hamlin had to contend with top British actors as well as some of Harryhausen’s most fiendish monstrosities: Calibos, giant scorpions, the Kraken and my all-time fave: the genuinely terrifying Medusa. Out of all that wondrous Dynamated gold that could be uploaded on this Post, it’s the Gorgon that gets it (see below).

He expressed joy at having received “many fan letters from young people; our films influenced their lives… George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Mr. Cameron – James Cameron – all say that our pictures when they grew up affected their wanting to get into the film business. 

“So, the snowball rolls on. It really started with Willis O’Brien, who was the father of it all. Then, it got bigger with me. And it continues to grow. Who knows where it will go next?”

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Neon Nostalgia: SF Blasts From The 80s

Rorschach’s Journal, October 12, 1985. Tonight, a comedian died in New York.

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“Like it or not, the 80s are still what made us who we are today… Could it be that there were some things that the 80s did much better than we do them now?” – Toby Litt. 

Forgive me while hurtling headlong into what could arguably be the most indulgent Post you will ever find on this site. For those of a certain age, the ’80s were a bubbly and exuberant time to live in, especially if you were crazy about SF.

Often cited as “the decade that just won’t die,” amid the big hair, garish leotards, deely-boppers and curly-wurlies, there was a surprisingly good amount of stuff released during these years. The movies were fun, the comics unputdownable and the novels still had a cool and distinctive edge with their (traditionally hand-painted) cover art.

And all these could be enjoyed with the accompaniment of top class ’80s synthesised pop. In order to illustrate this, a relevant vid is in order, but – oh good gravy! – which one should it be? There were so many ace gems that have stood the test of time. After much head-scratching and gnashing of teeth, this is one of my faves with a sci-fi flave: the visuals, the synths, the cyberpunk gear and that ha-ha-ha-hair! After 3:25, the goosebumps always kick in…

“Then tell me, future boy, who’s President of the United States in 1985? …Ronald Reagan?! The actor?! Then who’s Vice President? Jerry Lewis?!” – Doc Emmett Brown. 

In retrospect, 80s sci-fi grew basically from the phenomenon that Star Wars had created. From big movies like Aliens (1986) and Predator (1987) down to the low-budget shockers that overflowed from the local video rental store, came a veritable burst of creativity. They don’t make them like that anymore – so why not?

Although the movies will never be the same again, at least now there are – oh yes! – a few artists active who recreate the sounds of the 80s. Possibly the best of this retro-synthwave crop is Lazerhawk. Fortunately, one of his catchiest tunes has been set to the opening frenetic scene from the cult sci-fi action outing: The Hidden (1987).

This may look like a typical cop thriller prevalent throughout that decade, but trust me, it belongs to our genre – there’s an alien parasite residing within that driver, which explains why “he” can smash into innocent bystanders with reckless abandon (you have been warned!)

Oh goody-gumdrops! Got so much awesomeness here on offer! (If you go to my Facebook page,  you will find a whole lot more assorted goodies!)

It was too darned difficult to decide which of these two astounding vids to use, so – what the heck, with still plenty of MB Space to go – here they both are. 

The following montage of clips hails from not only one of the finest movies that the 80s had to offer, but one of the great SF cinematic masterpieces. Ever. Enjoy!

“Well, erm… Ronald Reagan says he’s going to be running for President in ’88 – we could, er, run a piece on that…” – Seymour. 

“Seymour, we don’t dignify absurdities with coverage. This is still America, damn it! Who wants a cowboy in the White House?!” –  Editor, New Frontiersman. 

One quick and easy reason why the 80s instill such unconditional fondness is that, back in the day, none of us had to fret over work, rent and bills… but then, for me, those worries were still a long way off even during the ’90s; apart from monumental classics such as Terminator II: Judgment Day (1991) or Jurassic Park (1993) the ’90s did not offer any buzz special enough to compel me to embrace that era. Guess it’s a generational thing, right? 

Just recently, an absurd list – no naming and (shaming) of that website here! – featured the Top 10 80s SF movies that deserve(!) the wretched remake treatment. Honestly…

Sure, the decade reeked with an overabundance of cheesy sci-fi duds, but because those much-maligned Mad Max knockoffs were concocted with severely limited budgets and production values, they were more likely to exude a (care-free?) abundance of originality, creativity and energy, qualities noticeably lacking in movies these days.

More than anything else, needlessly humongous budgets now dictate that our cinema choices have become riddled with unadventurous remakes and reboots, not to mention sequels (usually of diminishing quality.) Are you satisfied with the recycled versions of Robocop and Clash of the Titans? No, didn’t think so… 

Major studios are simply not willing to fork out fanciful fortunes to dare offer anything original. Business is business, alas… 

Just to make this Post a tad sweeter, here is a gallery of some of the highlights from that irrepressible decade:

Brad’s Blasts From The Past

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“Think of some of the things that only kids who grew up in that era know about. Do you notice how some things seem to be magically reappearing again? That is good – no, it’s great!” – eightiesonline.com

Finally, to all you wonderful 90s kids looking perplexed at all this gushing over big hair and big flair before your time, it would be very interesting to hear about your perspective of 80’s sci-fi!

In another dimension, Brad is stuck in a twist in the fabric of space where the 80s become a loop. That would suit me… just fine, thanks.

And so, as we come to the end of this Post, obviously it’s time to roll the credits, and there’s never been a finer sequence than this:   

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Cheers!

Jurassic Lark: Curse Of The Raptor Whisperer

They just went and made a new dinosaur? Probably not a good idea…

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DINOSAUR: Get yer Raptor repellent at the ready!
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DINOSAUR: Get yer Raptors at the ready!

“The last time Spielberg waited this long to revive a franchise, he blew Harrison Ford across the sky in a fridge” – Stuart Heritage.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to a Central American island…

In this long-awaited fourth instalment in the second-biggest franchise of all time, Jurassic World is the upgraded Park. Tourists are coming (in droves!) to see the beasts who have been thrust back into the evolutionary mix, supervised by the White Queen i.e. Claire Dearing, whose spirit is as unbreakable as her stilletos, but couldn’t care less about the two nephews who’ve come to visit her.

The star asset: the awkwardly-monickered Indominus Rex – part T Rex, part… something else – doesn’t want to be fed, she wants to break free and hunt. Obviously, if it wasn’t for her motivation, we wouldn’t have a potentially record-breaking blockbuster on our hands.

Fortunately, the only thing these Nublar nutters got right is to invest in the services of hero-for-hire raptor whisperer Owen Grady. Can he outwit the sibling-gobbling feral femme fatale? When that image of Starlord wrangling the raptors (above) first appeared on the net, fanboy here shivered something rotten. That has to be the most ridiculous idea ever! Has to be. (Either that or Claire outrunning T Rex… in her high heels.) For one moment there, the dreaded thought occurred to me: he was going to challenge his raptor-buddies to a dance-off. Mercifully we were spared that… 

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“Don’t you see the danger, John, inherent in what you’re doing here? Genetic power is the most awesome force the planet’s ever seen, but you wield it like a kid that’s found his dad’s gun” – Dr. Ian Malcolm.

Quite simply, this picture lacks that sorely-missed Spielberg touch. One of the greatest strengths of Jurassic Park lay in its faithful adherence to the most reliable palaeontological data then available. What now? Sadly, the absence of some of the dino-research gained in the previous 22 years here leaves such a noticeable gap. Pity, ‘cos it prevents any engagement with this flaccid an’ flawed package on any sensory or emotional level.

What about that “single most transformative development in palaeontology”: the intriguing, yet still-contentious, notion that dinosaurs – especially Velociraptor and Gallimimus – were covered in feathers? Don’t tell me the CGI-guys can’t animate intricate dino-fuzz!  

Where there is insufficient biology, there is certainly no chemistry. Owen and Claire were crying out for some but it was woefully lacking. With a movie like this, expect nothing more than two-dimensional characterization, but here it was just as blandly predictable as the uncontrollable asset itself. Sure, this is fiction – of the most ludicrously contrived kind, regrettably – but where is the science? 

When the two Lost Boys – that blubbing moppet and his chick-crazy bro – stumble onto the overgrown set of the first film, John Williams’ legendary theme tune comes flooding back after all these years, offering a rare and necessary charming touch. However, this reliance on nostalgia merely emphasises the sheer paucity of originality on display here. You could count at least half a dozen of your fave movies amidst this mish-mash – a job as botched as the asset itself. 

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“I was in the Navy, not the Navajos!” – Owen Grady. 

After a record 511 million dollar haul in its opening weekend, the lure of those Mesozoic monsters remains as strong as ever. Basically, have a blast on Nublar… but leave your common sense in Costa Rica. My niggles with this blockbuster are as immense as that mosasaur. Apparently that GLARINGLY OBVIOUS “containment breach” was NEVER speculated?! Hey, life finds a way, an’ all that… 

Speaking of obvious: the squad of gung-ho go-getters armed with heavy-duty cattle-prods venturing into the jungle are no different than those huge hunks of meat lowered in at feeding time… couldn’t anyone realise that in the (laughably-named) control center? Yep, all the chaos Dr. Malcolm can eat…    

It really is good – not to mention reassuring – to see Chris Pratt carry a more demanding role, but for me, the real star of the show is Blue, who – apart from his keeper – is the only distinctive and engaging personality on the island… and is a Raptor. So, whaddya know? A blockbuster that’s NOT awesome – that makes a change…

Upon emerging back into the glaring early evening sun after this rather underwhelming viewing, a quick glance at the cafe opposite and the clientele sitting out on the the street were being dive-bombed by a flock of seagulls.

Is that a case of life imitating art, or vice versa…?

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WH-WHAT?! No rough-ridin’ Raptors? AOW, COME ON!! We want our money back!

Horrormeister: Christopher Lee (1922-2015)

Sir Christopher Lee died last Sunday aged 93. 

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“When you toy with the dark side of the soul, imagination comes into the forefront. You can enjoy it more and communicate that joy to the audience. And I really do love what I do” – Christopher Lee.

The actor best known for creating the definitive Count Dracula in cinema passed away on Sunday. He was 93. A monolithic figure – at 6 ft 5 in – with a deep yet majestic voice and a killer scowl, Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was made to play villains of the highest order.

After the end of the Second World War, a diplomatic career seemed to be in order, but it wasn’t to be; instead, he turned to acting. In a career spanning 70 years, he put in a formidable 250 roles. 

So it is rather perplexing to learn that he made an uninspiring debut in the Gothic romance: Corridor of Mirrors (1947) followed by a decade of minor roles…

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“Christopher is an extraordinarily clever man, who possesses enormous talents… A dear, charming man with a great sense of humour…” – Peter Cushing.

It turned out to be Hammer Studios which gave him his big break. In The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) he played the mute, shambling creation of Dr. Victor Frankenstein who was played malevolently by Peter Cushing. It would be the third time that the two thesps would share the screen.

Across 35 years, Lee and Cushing appeared in 22 phenomenal movies together, mostly horror, although both icons preferred their unbeatable portfolio to be described as macabre. Not surprisingly, they forged a strong and enduring friendship.

While Lee had been unhappy with the limited possibilities to express his talents as Frankenstein’s Monster, he needn’t have worried for too long. Their next movie together the following year turned out to be one of the top British horror classics of all time: Dracula (1958).

They also worked on Amicus (another British horror movie studio) productions together, of which Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965) (see above) was particularly good. 

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“I have always admired his talents. He has done some magnificent work in the gothic genre. His Dracula has never been surpassed – and I doubt if it ever will be. He is a great raconteur… He is also a very fine singer… He is what he is, and that is what makes him Christopher Lee” – Michael Carreras. 

 

In 20 years with Hammer Studios, Lee created a fiendish gallery of infamous characters, ranging from the Mummy, Rasputin and Fu Manchu. 

One of the most engrossing – not to mention exciting – films in Lee’s substantial macabre repertoire was The Devil Rides Out (1968), in which he played the Duc de Richleau, who must call on his esoteric knowledge of the occult to prevent the son of an old friend from joining a satanic cult. This British horror classic stands as one of his finest performances as he portrayed – in a welcome change – one of the good guys.

He was the only actor to have played both Sherlock Holmes and his wiser brother Mycroft (in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1971), as well as Sir Henry Baskerville in Hammer’s version of The Hound of the Baskervilles.

In later years, he would cite Lord Summerisle, the chieftain of a Pagan community on an isolated Hebridean island in the classic: The Wicker Man (1973) as his personal favourite performance.

His turn as the triple-nippled assassin-for-hire: Francisco Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) was inspired casting – despite the fact that he was related to 007 creator Ian Fleming (who had considered Lee to originally play Bond!) – as he brought a sophisticated touch to a franchise that had begun to lose its way somewhat. 

We could be here all night trying to select one, or a few, clips best representing what Lee could do. No doubt you have uploaded your own exceptional Hammer scenes, but here, instead, this subtle yet menacing scene – one of my personal faves – perfectly demonstrates one of the best villains. Ever. 

 

“It’s terribly sad when you lose an old friend, and Christopher Lee was one of my oldest. We first met in 1948” – Sir Roger Moore. 

In recent years, Lee’s career went through a stunning renaissance. First, he was cast as the duplicitous wizard of Isengard: Saruman in The Lord of The Rings. The only member of the cast to have met JRR Tolkien, he was tipped by the author to play Gandalf! Originally to have appeared in all instalments of the trilogy, he was astonished to discover that all his scenes had been cut from the concluding epic: The Return of the King.

Bizarrely, he was cast as Count Dooku, a Sith Lord in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of The Clones, reprising the role for Episode III only to meet an early demise.

In October 2009, Lee was knighted “for his services to drama and charity.” “I don’t know if any other actor of my age has received one…” he said, standing outside Buckingham Palace. “Perhaps they thought it best to give it to me before it’s too late.”

 

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Christopher Frank Carandini Lee

27 May 1922 – 7 June 2015.

Jaws: A Celebration Of The Very First Blockbuster

Steven Spielberg’s classic thriller was released 40 years ago today.

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“Wow, this is like a movie I just made about a truck and a driver. Jaws and Duel both have four letters; they’re both about a leviathan going after man” – Steven Spielberg. 

On this day forty years ago, the stupendous box office success of a movie about the terrifying threat of a great white shark in the sea off Amity Island introduced the template for the phenomenon largely accepted now for granted: the Summer Blockbuster. Director Steven Spielberg – previously responsible only for Sugarland Express and Duel – would hit the big time after this movie.  

The casting was relatively easy: Roy Scheider was chosen by to play Police Chief Martin Brody because Spielberg liked him in The French Connection; Robert Shaw was chosen to play Quint because Spielberg liked him in The Sting; but the role of young oceanographer: Hooper was not so assured. Then-current stars such as Jon Voight, Timothy Bottoms and Jeff Bridges were considered, but none were available. In the end, Spielberg’s pal George Lucas suggested Richard Dreyfuss, because he had starred in American Graffiti. 

To put this first blockbuster into perspective, the (estimated) budget of Jaws was only $8 million. It opened on 1 June 1975 on just 409 screens. After 78 days, it became the Highest Grossing Movie of All Time – in that it was the first ever movie to cross over the $100 million mark – a fact largely forgotten, considering that this tremendous honour would last for only two years. In the Summer of ’77, a little film by the name of “Star Wars” was let loose on an unsuspecting cinema-going public…

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“Slow ahead… I can go slow ahead! Come on down here and chum some of this shit…!

…You’re gonna need a bigger boat…” – Police Chief Martin Brody.  

Cinema’s first blockbuster offers a myriad of intriguing aspects. Essentially, Jaws is a movie of two halves: as soon as the three intrepid hunters set out on the Orca, a more intense viewing pleasure kicks in.

Having mentioned the three main characters, what about the real star himself? A huge mechanical shark was constructed, but the first time it was put into the water, it sank. Named “Bruce” by its despairing “assistants” and the “Great White Turd” by Spielberg himself, it spent most of filming broken-down, and – not unlike some of Hollywood’s more notorious legends – “was unavailable for certain shots.” Those Pre-CGI days were arguably more fun…  

The innovative shots of the camera in the water trained upwards, to give a “shark’s-eye view” was never intended – they came about purely due to Bruce’s inoperability. Apparently the shark prop was named after Spielberg’s lawyer, but please tell me that’s not true!

No feature on this movie would be complete without mentioning the ominous score composed by John Williams. At first, the composer previewed it on the piano; the director thought it sounded… completely ridiculous. Only much later, through full orchestration, could its true powerful and spine-chilling tones truly resonate.

Could Jaws have prospered without this classic theme? It seems most unlikely. Cinemas around the world may not have had queues going out the door and down the road if the movie did not have the expressive power of Williams’ score. Deservedly, Williams won the Academy Award for Best Original Dramatic Score and has taken sixth place on the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Greatest Film Scores. 

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“I think that I am familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and BITES YOU IN THE ASS!” – Hooper. 

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, was selected as the location for Amity Island, used on strict condition that its “natural harmony was not affected.” The locals were incredibly co-operative during filming. They made ideal extras when the script required 4th of July holiday-makers to go bat-shit crazy on the beach. Payments of $64 each seemed to have done the trick as well…

Speaking of the script, that took an awfully long time to develop; at one point, Spielberg worked on his own draft, hoping that would speed things up. Some of his own scenes ended up in the final edit. Originally, Peter Benchley – the author of the bestseller who had a cameo in the movie as the TV news correspondent filming a report on Amity beach – struggled to settle on the final title even with only 20 minutes until the presses started rolling.

Some of the provisional titles he considered included: “The Stillness in the Water” and “Leviathan Rising.” He seriously contemplated: “Jaws of Death” until his Editor merely pointed out that it would be easier to go with just the first word as it was short enough to fit on the cover jacket.

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“Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’. I’ll catch this bird for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Bad fish. Not like going down the pond chasing bluegills and tommy cods” – Quint.   

After four decades, the movie still holds up remarkably well. Mainly it is driven by three superlative central performances, and they had fantastic material to work from, but for meevery time – Robert Shaw just rules the screen. From the moment he makes his dramatic chalkboard-scratching introduction, you just know that you are going to see one of cinema’s most superlative performances.

At first, Spielberg had considered Lee Marvin (who turned it down, stating that he preferred to fish for real, not in a movie) and Sterling hayden, so it was fortuitous movie-making fate that Shaw stepped in – although perhaps not for Dreyfuss…

While tension brewed on the Orca between Quint and Hooper (“I don’t need this working-class hero crap!”), off-screen what came to be known as the Dreyfuss-Shaw feud raged, with the fiercely-competitive Shaw picking on the younger, less experienced actor. “It got ugly!” the Director recalled.

If there is any moment that sets Shaw’s contribution apart, then it is undoubtedly the much-heralded Indianapolis monologue. Rightly regarded as one of the most outstanding movie scenes ever shot, the dialogue was initially conceived and written by two other scriptwriters; however, Shaw rewrote great chunks of it himself. All Scheider and Dreyfuss could do was listen to one of the greats at work…

You can savour this one-take classic scene right here:

Let us be thankful that Spielberg made Jaws at all; when he originally saw the vague title, he simply ignored it, under the impression that the book was just a boring biog of a dentist… 

jaws-drink-to-your-leg jaws-specialmenu1

Quint: “You wanna drink? Drink to your leg.”

Hooper: “I’ll drink to your leg.”

Quint: “Okay, so we drink to our legs!” 

Cheers!