There was a time when “Jaws” was more popular than “Star Wars”, believe it or not. It wasn’t along time, but it did happen. When the new space opera overtook the world’s most fearsome killer fish in the theaters, director Steven Spielberg published a congratulatory open letter to his long-time pal George Lucas in the December 2nd, 1977 issue of Variety.
While some might say that these two movies drove film making into the pop culture blockbuster ditch that has plagued so much of modern film since they were released (i.e. frenetic, shallow, metered plot twists v. say an iconic 70s John Cassavetes or Peter Bogdanovich film), these are the films of my youth and I LOVE THEM TO DEATH (along with Rocky, All The Presidents Men, The Sting, The Last Picture Show, etc.).
I saw these films in big movie houses & larger than life. I remember the afternoon I saw Star Wars and the night I saw Jaws like it was yesterday. I saw them with family in both cases. We stood in a blocks long line FOREVER downtown to see Jaws at “The Midland.” We saw the first showing of Star Wars at “The Glenwood Theatre” in suburban KC opening day (a day after it opened in NYC & LA). It was an initial limited release and we lucked out. The matinee was empty! Mom promptly fell asleep.
Jaws scared the holy bejezus out of me. I levitated out of my chair during the scene where the severed head pops out of the boat. Shortly after I saw it the summer of ‘75, I went to Puerto Rico for the Summer. I spent the whole time snorkling with my crazy Uncle Guille & wonderful Aunt Kathy waiting for Jaws to come up and swallow me whole. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!
And well Star Wars thrilled me to death as I was mad about space and really loved space themed sci-fi. And now I’ve passed Star Wars on to my kids like any good Geek Dad…
Thank you Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Lucas!
Sharks and space. Man, sharks and space.