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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cool Ass Cinema Book Reviews: "You're gonna need a bigger boat" edition!

The other night I decided to watch both JAWS and JAWS 3 as I hadn't seen either one in a long, long time. I kind of like JAWS 2 the best of the three and have seen it so many times. The reason for wanting to pop in those movies was this first book featured below. I've been reading it off and on for the last several weeks. Also, there are two other equally fascinating and very different reads on the first big summer blockbuster, the phenomenon that is Steven Spielberg's JAWS (1975).


By Patrick Jankiewicz

Softcover; 236 pages; B/W

The author has fashioned a damn fine read on one of the scariest movies of all time. The first 130 pages is devoted to Spielberg's sea beast horror epic. Excerpts from many key contributors behind the making of the picture are included as well as the authors own observations. But the book itself isn't limited to the first JAWS picture, this tome also covers the other films in the series as well as countless minutiae about the four films themselves. Everything you ever wanted to know about this series is covered in depth.

But this great little book isn't simply relegated to the JAWS series. There's also chapters on related merchandising and the influence the films had on other forms of media including comics and television and other movies as well. Another section covers movies that were either very similar, or down right shameful rip offs (We're looking at you Enzo G. Castellari). There's also a section on scripts that were never made into their proposed JAWS entry.

The various pictures seen here are shots from the movies themselves, photographs of the production cast and crew, lobby cards, bubblegum cards and comics to name some of the images found inside. There's only one small error found in the rip off section. In the small space given to TENTACLES (1976), Bo Svenson is listed as one of the stars, but it's actually Bo Hopkins. JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE is a great book, one for any JAWS fan and one for the shelves.

This next book I used to have the original pocket book which was given to me by a relative. It was my absolute favorite book at the time and it contained some delicious photos showcasing the behinds the scenes making of the movie. This is....


By Carl Gottlieb

Hardcover; 224 pages; B/W

I remember flipping through this book dozens of times marveling at the many photographs and especially one which perplexed me for years. It was a photo of a scene that was ultimately scrapped and reshot in a less violent form. The scene in question is the death of the man in the boat. Originally, the shark was going for Michael Brody and this fisherman got in the way and the shark took off with him with Mike hanging on; the man bleeding profusely from the mouth. It was removed and replaced with the shot of him having his leg hit the ocean floor instead. That photo is nowhere to be found here and several others I recall being in the original edition have been replaced with other, equally interesting behind the scenes pics. The description below is verbatim from amazon and sums up this hardcover Anniversary edition best...

The only book on how 26-year-old Steven Spielberg transformed Peter Benchley's #1 bestselling novel into the phenomenal movie it became, Gottlieb's chronicle of this extraordinary year-long adventure was first published in 1975, generating 17 printings and selling more than 2 million paperback copies. Long out of print, a new, expanded paperback edition was published in 2000 to mark the movie's 25th Anniversary, featuring a 22-page behind-the-scenes photo album, a new afterword by Gottlieb updating readers on the fates of the filmmakers, and an introduction by Peter Benchley.

Gottlieb's book is like a diary from the pictures beginnings all the way up to its release. Every aspect of the production is covered in detail. A must own for any JAWS fan. I only wish I still had that original pocket book edition.

Finally, it's one last trip back to the beach with this Bloomsbury Movie guide...


By Nigel Andrews

Softcover; 183 pages; color & B/W

Andrews book covers even more information on Spielberg's killer fish movie and includes even more great behind the scenes photos including one of the deleted scene mentioned above regarding Mike Brody, the man in the boat and the shark. There's also storyboards reproduced inside for key scenes from the movie. The book also covers (as does the one at the top of the page) the slight controversy surrounding the Indianapolis speech and just who wrote it, or who contributed to it.

Also, among the many chapters, the aftermath of JAWS and the changes in movies made in its wake are discussed by the author. One of the books best attributes is the section where Roy Scheider speaks about his involvment with the movie. His anecdotes cover the film from start to finish and a small bit of his part in JAWS 2. All in all, this book is also a highly recommended read and fits comfortably beside the above two entries on the book shelves.



Will Errickson said...

I need that first book! Always room for more Jaws trivia. There is also a Jaws 2 Log but it usually goes for a pretty penny on eBay. On Amazon it is literally going for close to $1000.

venoms5 said...

Wow, I would absolutely LOVE to get my hands on a JAWS 2 LOG, Will. I used to have the novelizations of the first, second and fourth movies which were quite different from the movies. Not sure if I still have them, though. I think the only 'Making Of' log book I still have is one for KING KONG (1976).

What's great about the JAWS COMPANION is that it covers all the movies and everything associated with them.


Jeez ...I'm getting old.

Will Errickson said...

There's no novelization of the first movie--it was Benchley's novel adapted for the screen, and while it is different from Spielberg's movie it's much worse. But the Jaws 2 novelization is actually not bad and has Brody feeling guilty because he thinks he did NOT kill the shark; he thinks it's the same one. It's based on a screenplay written by original director John Hancock and his wife, who were fired just after production began for trying to make a more thoughtful film; that is, one in which the ghost of the Great White "haunts" Amity and its inhabitants, until the second shark shows up. If you've seen his Let's Scare Jessica to Death you know he was good at that type of subtle chiller, but of course the producers wanted 2 to be an action thriller.

Will Errickson said...

I don't know why I'm telling you all that; you probably just read it in the Companion!

Dr. Heckle said...

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I've never seen any of the Jaw's movies! I've always wanted to, but it always seems like there's something I would rather see. I'm going to just have to sit down and do it.

venoms5 said...

Yeah I meant the Benchley novel, Will for the first. I had that one and the novelization for parts 2 and 4. As you said, there's a whole section about the Hancock version in the companion. It's also talked about a little bit on the JAWS 2 special edition. In the book, Hancock says his version was a lot more violent and that was why he was let go. Universal thought his version was too dark. That, and there was some apparent bad blood between his wife and Lorraine Gary.

LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH is an awesome and very scary little movie.

venoms5 said...

@ DS: You're only as old as you feel!

@ Heckler: There's a lot of movies I haven't seen that I probably should have by now as well.

The first and second are the best and it starts to go downhill from there. 3 is pretty good. It has the biggest and best shark in it. The less said about part 4 the better.

Will Errickson said...

Dr. Heckle, you really only *need* to see the 1975 original; it's easily and widely considered one of the greatest movies ever made. The sequels are cheesy fun--and often not even that--with diminishing returns. Only the original is an absolute must-see!

I Like Horror Movies said...

Dude I need some series Jaws book action, love the series and all of its ridiculous offshoots! Im sure there are some juicy bits about the sequels and their development that would shed some light on their suckiness (although 4 is my favorite in the series and an all time guilty pleasure!)

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