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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cool Ass Cinema Book Reviews: The Making of Jaws 2


By Louis R. Pisano and Michael A. Smith

343 pages; available in softcover and hardcover; B/W photos; 1st edition 2015

The making of one of filmdom's most successful sequels is documented via the words of most of the cast and crew that worked on the tumultuous shoot that was JAWS 2 (1978). Inspired by 'Memories From Martha's Vineyard', the presentation is nowhere near as glossy, but with over 200 behind the scenes photos and pages packed with information, the authors deliver the Great White goodness. If you own the pricey and out of print, 'The Jaws 2 Log', this book makes a nice companion piece. Aside from some minor negatives this is a veritable feeding frenzy for fans of the sequel.

Authors and heavy duty JAWS fans, Pisano and Smith, have amassed a great deal of behind the scenes stories, anecdotes and rare photos from many who worked on JAWS 2; this extends to those who worked, albeit briefly, on the production before being fired and replaced. Among those released from the picture early on included a handful of the young cast, one of which was Ricky Schroder (SILVER SPOONS [1982-1987]). This particular chapter (titled 'The Amity Kids: Part I') offers insight into the difficulties of being an aspiring actor or actress; for some, it led to stable careers in the industry post JAWS 2, and others, it led to different paths.

Naturally, there's another chapter detailing the shoot from the perspective of the youngsters who came aboard later, as well as those who managed to survive being fired. Of these, one of the most interesting is the stories of Billy Van Zandt (he played Bob) recounting the gory death scenes devised and filmed for his character--none of which were used; he ultimately lived in the end.

Roy Scheider passed away in 2008, but he and his cantankerous on and off-screen behavior is covered via mentions of old articles and in the words of many of the actors interviewed; these include the infamous altercation between Scheider and director Jeannot Szwarc. Moreover, the most attractive addition of this book is the information revolving around the director initially hired to helm the sequel to Hollywood's first blockbuster...

The presence of original director John Hancock is all over this book; from remembrances by the cast and crew, and even in the words from the man himself. Since you're getting a wide spectrum of opinions from the multitude of people involved, there's variance from one story to the next; yet all the viewpoints enable the reader to come to their own conclusion as to why Hancock (known to genre fans for his moody 1971 cult favorite, LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH) was removed from the production and replaced with French director, Jeannot Szwarc.

Hancock's wife, writer Dorothy Tristan, who was also removed from the project, is present yet her remarks included here are brief, but not without there significance.

Of even greater interest, you'll find, among some 200 behind the scenes images, photos of scenes shot by Hancock before his dismissal.

There are no major negatives to be levied at this volume, but some minor quibbles would be the low quality of the photos re-produced. There's a wealth of great images, just don't expect glossiness akin to the ultimate JAWS tome, 'Memories of Martha's Vineyard'; that book being the inspiration for this one. 

Aside from that, there's a lot of spelling errors and sections that could have been trimmed down to eliminate repetitiveness; so it would seem there wasn't much proofreading done. However, the wealth of information and stories will make these little more than minor issues for most.

'Jaws 2: The Making of A Hollywood Sequel' is highly recommended for JAWS fans and anyone with an interest in the behind the scenes goings-on of big budget Hollywood productions. If you already own 'Memories of Martha's Vineyard', you'll surely want to reel this one in as well.

You can purchase the book from Bear Manor Media HERE, and from amazon HERE.


Unknown said...

Just seeing this. Thank you for the positive review. Believe me, I proofread this thing a hundred times and still saw things I missed. Hopefully the next edition will clean everything up! So glad you enjoyed it. Michael Smith.

venoms5 said...

Hi, Mr. Smith. I had waited on this book for quite some time and had assumed it was either on the back burner or possibly not coming out. I was very pleased with it for the most part and almost read it all in a single sitting. The minor negatives weren't a bother to me, only I was compelled to include them in the review as I try to get as honest an opinion across as possible on here. Thanks for putting out such a great book for one of my favorite sequels.

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