Who remembers VCRs? Who remembers a time even before tape rentals? When a VHS release of a major motion picture costs in the upwards of $100 to buy? You simply did not walk into a Best Buy and purchase the movie. If you had a movie library, you made it yourself.
BY RECORDING DIRECTLY FROM BROADCAST TELEVISION.
That’s right kids…they used to broadcast major motion pictures on NBC, ABC, and CBS. Of course this was a few years after the theatrical run and they were always “EDITED FOR TELEVISION”, but that was how you watched them at home.
I think my Dad brought home our first VCR around 1978 or 79. It was roughly the size of an iron lung, and you could lose a hand in the tape ejector. I used to put action figures on top, push the eject button, and launch them into the air. Until Dad caught me of course. This was the exact model we had:
The remote was tethered by a cable. But the GREAT THING…was that I could record movies!!! And much to my parents chagrin, watch them over and over. Some movies were shown once a year…they were special events! Movies like KING KONG and THE WIZARD OF OZ.
And of course…JAWS!
Because of commercials, some of these movies were cut into two parts. Two hours one night and two hours the next. I remember the announcer saying at the end of the first part “stay tuned for scenes from tomorrow night’s epic conclusion!”. I loved it. But I hated the commercials. So, I would watch the film with remote in hand, carefully pausing the recording during each commercial break. Each year I would mess up and either forget to pause for commercials or forget to un-pause and miss chunks of the film. That was heart breaking.
And the artist in me would, every year, design and create my OWN cover. I wish I would have had the foresight to keep some of them.
And this is how my love affair with JAWS started. I was too young to see it in the theaters, but my parents figured since it was on broadcast TV, it would be ok for me to watch. I was in love from the first scene.
From the moment Chrissy went swimming and got eaten, I was hooked (pun intended). The fact that you didnt see much of the shark until the end of the film kept me enthralled. I loved that only the audience and Brody seemed to know it was a shark. It was our secret! Nobody believed Brody except me!
I loved Hooper. I wanted to be Hooper. I wanted a boat like his…with under water lights. I loved when they gutted the tiger shark and all that crap spilled out onto the docks. WHAT? IT ATE A LICENSE PLATE? Hooper quickly taught me that Tiger Sharks are like garbage cans, and will eat anything. Tiger Shark? A TIGER and a SHARK…that is awesome you can’t make up.
All of this build up. The confrontations with Larry the Mayor. And of course, Quint. The baddest man you will ever meet. When it was televised, the first part was mostly QUINTLESS, so it made part two even more delicious. To this day I remember when part one would end. It’s when the trio head out to catch the shark. The boat leaving the harbor.
So, the following night, it was ALL on the boat and about sharkin’. I loved that Quint had a harness. I remember thinking how big the fish were he caught, because he had a harness. And the way he latched himself in, that first time he got a tug on his line. So methodical. So focused. Quint was a man not be trifled with.
The night sky, in the shot over the Orca…I remember being amazed by the falling stars. To this day, I make sure to look for them.
When I got a little older, I was able to read the book. WOW. It is almost a different story. It has the mob and SEX! But I still love the movie more.
Maybe I love the film because of the connection to my youth. But I do love it. A lot. When I was a kid, my uncle lived in Beverly Hills, and my parents went to see him. They went to Universal Studios and came back with stories of the JAWS ride. And pictures. I remember staring at those pictures forever. Curious, and also a little scared, thinking if I rode it and that shark came up on me. I love JAWS. My first born son is named Alex. After Alex Kintner. The boy who gets eaten by the shark, because Brody wasn’t allowed to close the beaches.
Remember when his mom slapped Brody?
25 odd years later, I finally got a chance to ride JAWS. With my kids. And you know what? The shark looked fake as hell.
And I got goosebumps and teared up a little.