Jaws is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) movies of all time (even better than Goonies, no matter what some stupid poll says)—and today it turns 37 years old. To celebrate Steven Spielberg's prototypical summer blockbuster, here's some trivia chum to chew on:
- Yes, it was the first summer blockbuster. It was #1 at the box office for 14 consecutive weeks and the first film to gross more than $100 million (eventually grossing over $470 million).
- The movie was based on the novel by Peter Benchley, who was inspired by a 1964 article about a fisherman who caught a 4550-lb great white shark off the shores of Long Island. (Making today's sharks look like guppies.)
- That fisherman's name was Frank Mundus, and the character Quint was based off of him.
- The scene introducing Quint was supposed to show the character in a movie theater watching and laughing at the fake qualities of Moby Dick, but Spielberg was unable to get the rights, later noting that “Gregory Peck felt it wasn’t his proudest work; he didn’t want it to be made fun of or even to be in the film at all.”
- One of the mechanical sharks used in the movie was lost at sea when the movie was still filming, and the rest of the sharks (called "Bruce") were later destroyed... except one, which was spotted in a junkyard in 2010.
- Filming from the shark's perspective was not a directorial choice, Spielberg did it because the mechanical sharks kept breaking. Though this ended up making the movie that much more suspenseful.
- The beach town of Amity is really the fishing village of Menemsha on Martha's Vineyard... or at least, that was the primary location for shooting.
- When Spielberg first heard John Williams's score, he thought it was a joke—the now famous shark theme was a simple alternating pattern of two notes. It went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Dramatic Score.
- Upon its release, Rex Reed called the movie, "nerve-frying... for the most part, Jaws is a gripping horror film that works beautifully in every department." Meanwhile, The New Yorker's Pauline Kael called it "funny in a Woody Allen sort of way."
- In 1975 the movie made the cover of Time Magazine, with an article inside called "Summer of the Shark"—you can read it here.
Here's the original trailer for the movie:
And if you've never watched the documentary, Jaws: The Inside Story... what are you waiting for?