Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Top 5 Favorite Jaws Memories

Class Discussion at Summer School – June, 1975

Believe it or not, I knew everything there was to know about the movie Jaws before it was even released. During a summer school class early in the summer of ’75, my friend Greg spent the entire class time excitedly telling me and a few other classmates about a movie he’d seen the night before, about a killer shark and the three guys who try to kill it. He described to us in detail the entire movie, from start to finish, which obviously should have spoiled the film’s best moments and scares for all of us. But what was funny was, he got a lot of the story flat-out wrong (just half a day after he’d seen it), so when I finally saw the movie a few weeks later, I was mostly still surprised by what I saw…or didn’t see, including Hooper’s bloody head floating up to the surface at film’s end, detached from its body and bobbing up and down in the water next to Chief Brody. According to Greg, anyway.

First Screening at the Fashion Valley 4 – July, 1975

After my friend Greg had positively hyped this movie to such a degree at summer school, I was now more than eager to see Jaws, and on a July evening in 1975, my parents took my brother and I to see it at the Fashion Valley 4, a shopping center multiplex just north of downtown San Diego. I remember the auditorium’s seating was split into two sections, left and right, and we sat on the left, with my brother finding his own seat much closer to the screen, as was his theater-going custom. However, fear soon overcame tradition, and he was quickly back sitting with us, his hands in the ready-to-cover position over his eyes. I remember absolutely loving this movie at this first screening, and it instantly became my favorite of all time; I only wish I’d had the foresight to keep the ticket stub. The evening was also memorable for the passionate cry of a fellow theater patron, who screamed out an anguished “SHIT!” when Quint met his maker in the jaws of the great white, which in turn elicited tension-releasing laughter from the theater crowd. (Read more about this night here)

Double Screening at the Vineyard Twin – July, 1975

My father and I had already seen Jaws twice—at the Fashion Valley 4 and at our local theater, the Vineyard Twin in Escondido—and because we both enjoyed the movie so much, we’d decided to go again. It was still showing at the Vineyard, so we headed there from our home in Rancho Bernardo, arriving in plenty of time for a late-afternoon screening. In fact, we’d arrived very early, and because we had over an hour’s wait, the theater employee asked if we’d like to go in now, midway through the current screening, and then stay for the entirety of the show that followed. We gladly accepted his offer and headed inside; the auditorium was crowded but not sold out, so we found seats easily enough, about midway down on the right. And being veterans of Jaws, we decided to not watch the screen during the shock moments—the sudden ‘we’re gonna need a bigger boat’ shark appearance, the lifeless head popping out and scaring Hooper—but instead watch the audience around us, to see their reactions. We did this for both shows, and trust me, it was priceless; nearly every one of these unsuspecting, novice viewers jumped about a quarter-mile out of their seats, with half of them screaming their heads off as they did so.

Walking to the Crossroads Quad Cinemas – July, 1979

I saw Jaws five times during the summer of ’75, and because there were no cable movie channels, no video stores, and no Internet yet available to me at the time, I had to wait four years to experience Jaws again, during its re-release to theaters in the summer of ’79. I was now living in Bellevue, Washington, after our parents moved my brother and sister and I there from San Diego, and the movie was playing at the Crossroads Quad Cinemas, at the nearby Crossroads Mall. I don’t know where my brother was (perhaps still carrying the mental scars of that night at the Fashion Valley 4), but my ten-year-old sister was more than willing to spend an afternoon with me at the movies, so off we went, along with our neighborhood friend Mike, who lived across the street. We walked to the theater, which was about a mile away, and though I remember nothing about the day except for the fact that we went, I do recall my sister having the bejeezus scared out of her by the movie. Which I thoroughly and happily expected, of course.

40th Anniversary Screening at the Harkins Arrowhead Fountains – June, 2015

I was hoping I could find a 40th Anniversary screening of Jaws somewhere in my neighborhood, and the theater right next door to my apartment obliged, presenting it on its largest screen with a flawless print. I’d expected a large crowd, so I purchased my ticket ahead of time, and arrived there after work to find a long line of Jaws fans waiting to enter the auditorium. Thankfully, it was a wonderful Jaws-happy crowd, and it was more than cool to see my favorite movie again on the big screen. I was going to save this visit as my last ever Jaws theater experience, but the lure of another cinema viewing was just too great, and I’m going tonight with my sister to see it once again at this very same Harkins theater. (For a more detailed look at this 40th Anniversary screening, click here)

And Three More Jaws Memories That Are Worthy of Mention

My fifth time seeing Jaws, at the Poway Playhouse with my friend Brent in 1975

Watching Jaws on a 5-inch portable DVD player while visiting my friend Steve P in 2004

Seeing a perfect print of Jaws for the first time at home on Blu-ray in 2017

25 comments on “Top 5 Favorite Jaws Memories

  1. Dracula

    Glad to be in the worthy of mention section. Now some questions on the others. What did you take in summer school? I remember taking a model airplane building class, the kind that actually fly. Was your brother ever checked for glasses with his I need to be up front in the theater? In Bellevue you could walk to the theater? For us in RB it was always that bus ride to Fashion Valley that seemed to be like a cross country ride on Greyhound! And is that promo for a screening on the 10th for real?

    • Todd B

      a) I took my Dad’s decoupage class. It was an art class that a lot of his 6th-grade students took, and for the entirety of the summer school session, we all mostly hung out and talked. Not a whole lot of artwork was done, at least as far as the guys were concerned.

      b) Scott liked to sit up front because it meant he didn’t have to be stuck sitting with Mom and Dad, and (I believe) he liked the sensation of the screen and the film being so up close and big.

      c) The Crossroads Quad theater in Bellevue was about a mile away from our house on 166th Avenue NE (I checked the distance on Google Maps), and to us it didn’t seem like a far walk at all. And yeah, that Fashion Valley bus ride was a journey and a half…so many stops and odd detours to other neighborhoods.

      d) And that screening is for real…I’m heading over there in about 90 minutes!

      • Julie Dunning

        DECOUPAGE?!?! Now I’ve heard everything! Yet, something we have in common. It was pretty trendy right about then. I don’t recall that fun fact and am flabbergasted! Love the FB pic post – yeehaa!!!

      • Todd B

        I remember the only decoupage work I did in that class involved a stained piece of wood and a prairie dog…and thank heavens my Dad wasn’t into that other ’70s trend: macramé plant holders!

      • Julie Dunning

        Ha! Yea, I wish I still had mine – they’re probably worth a couple of bucks. I macraméd a very wide belt for my Dad which he never took off. We never quite figured out how to wash it so it was white at first and very black years later. He didn’t seem to mind. Thanks for THAT blast-from-the-past! 🙂

      • Todd B

        Grossest. Macramé. Story. EVER. And…you’re welcome!

  2. butterboy44

    Why didn’t I go to the 1979 showing with you guys? I’ll tell you why. Because I STILL CARRIED THE EMOTIONAL SCARS FROM THAT FIRST VIEWING IN 1975! So, yes, you were quite on the nose with your assessment. I still have a fear of the ocean to this day because of that film. My question is, why would Dad let an EIGHT YEAR OLD see that movie?! EIGHT! I think I would have been less traumatized if he backed over me with a car. At least that wouldn’t be done on purpose.

    Or would it?

    • Todd B

      Or would it??? Well, I guess Dad must’ve saw that PG rating and assumed it was safe enough for a trusting, innocent child of eight. But now I’m wondering: why did Dad or Mom allow me to take a ten-year-old Kelly to see it, and without them? And then again, why would Dad take you to see Excalibur? Or why would Mom take Grandma to see Cold Mountain? Questions that only the cinema gods can answer.

  3. LMD

    Tonight!!! I see it again with my brother Todd! 39 years later. Geeze, when did I get old?

    • Todd B

      Tonight, less than two hours from now! And you were already old even before Jaws: The Revenge came out!

    • Julie Dunning

      Oh yea, like you’ve got one foot in the grave Kelly! Both of ya for that matter are holding up just dandily! Now Scott on the other hand…
      ENJOY JAWS!!!

      • Todd B

        Thanks Julie…we did!

  4. grandrapidsgirl

    Great stuff Todd!! Those locales sure bring back memories and make me homesick. And way to go Scott for wanting to sit up front but shame on you for chickening out! Glad someone in your household knows where the best seats are in a movie theater lol!

    • Todd B

      Too bad most of those locales are no longer around…it would be nice to visit the Vineyard Twin again! And the best seats in a theater are in the top row, right? Right?

      • Julie Dunning

        LOL HA – Yes on the sites and a big no on the seats!!

      • Todd B

        Wait, let me guess: you’re a front-row kind of girl, aren’t you!

      • Julie Dunning

        That sounds kind of kinky – not really sure how to take that. 😉

      • Todd B

        Well, it’s better than being a…never mind! 😮

      • Julie Dunning

        🙂 🙂 🙂

  5. Awesome memories here. Love the fact you watched other patrons reactions as well. I’ve shared this before but I love the fact that my dad went for a smoke when we visit Ben Gardners boat leaving me all alone. He of course had already seen it. Lol.

    • Todd B

      Nice move by your Dad, but maybe he should’ve hung around to check out YOUR reaction!

  6. Dracula

    How many more Jaws posts for July can we look forward to?

    • Todd B

      There were five more planned, but I might add one more I thought of recently to wrap it all up.

  7. Dracula

    Not to add any pressure but we have 17 days left for Jaws month. You’re gonna be busy with 6 more posts to go!

    • Todd B

      One will be posted within the hour, minimizing the pressure just a bit!

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