Monday, February 11, 2008

"You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat"

In the summer of 1975 I was 11 years old and there was the newest sort of horror film on the big screen. It was horrific not for men dressed as women and stabbing through a shower curtain, but because the film depicted something that the 11 year-old brain could conceive as a possibility.

Especially in the summer. Especially right before a family vacation to Daytona Beach, Florida.

I am talking about the movie Jaws. Like most young people, I watched the commercials advertising this movie – complete with the creepy music – and wondered at the mysteries of the deep blue ocean. I never thought my father would actually deign to take my family and me to this film, but away we went.

We traveled to the old Belle Meade Theater in Nashville one evening and plopped ourselves down in the cushioned seats with soft drinks and popcorn perched precariously between my younger brother and myself. The theater darkened. The creepy music began and film life was recreated for me in an instant.

I watched an almost-nude woman swim through the ocean as her drunken boyfriend passed out on the shore. I sat transfixed as said woman thrashed about and clung to a buoy for dear life and my eyes widened when she went under and never came back for air. I laughed at the dialogue between a group of fisherman and Matt Hooper and came out of my seat when the disembodied head popped out of the hull of a stranded boat. (I think popcorn went flying through the air).

The following week my family was indeed on Daytona Beach and I flatly refused to enter the water. My father, never one to cower to fear, promptly threw me over his shoulder and marched to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. And. Dropped. Me. In. It. He stood in my way and did not allow retreat and I accepted that while I could indeed become shark bait, perhaps Jaws would see my father’s bulk and determine that I was not worth the trouble when there was such meat food to eat. Selfish of me, I know… but it is a shark-eat-shark world when you are up to your neck in the briny deep.

However, I loved the movie. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I will still watch it to this day if I am surfing the channels and happen upon it. I have my own DVD whenever the mood strikes to relive my childhood or to quote a movie. Thus began my love for this film and for all the actors and characters attached to it.

I loved the sarcastic, yet intelligent wit that was found in Matt Hooper’s character. My favorite line of his:

“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 ON THE _____!!”

I loved that Robert Shaw appeared in this film (as I had seen him as a villain in a James Bond movie) and he gave a stunning performance as he described having been on the Naval vessel Indianapolis that sank during WWII:

“… until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'.”

But the most memorable quote from that film (for me) comes from Chief Brody, who has finally seen the shark for the first time (with the rest of the audience)

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Roy Schneider, Chief Brody, died today of a staph infection. He was 75 years old. He had been treated for cancer over the past years and the acting world as well as the community at large will surely miss him, as he was a proponent for arts in education. He was a fine actor who received a couple of Oscar nominations, though the trophy itself eluded him.
A well-loved actor left his mark on the world and the community around him. His talent will certainly be missed.

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