Happy Fourth of July! Thirty-nine years ago, Jaws became the first summer blockbuster. In it the town of Amity Island is terrorized by a killer great white shark around July Fourth weekend. In honor of that, we decided to publish a chat we just had about it. This chat has been edited for clarity.
Emily Dreyfuss: I saw Jaws last night in a movie theater.
Ben Dreyfuss: Why?
ED: Because it was playing right by our house and we needed to be somewhere air conditioned.
ED: Two things: 1) You and dad are exactly alike and 2) I forgot that “we’re going to need a bigger boat” wasn’t his line, which makes me even angrier when people quote that in regard to him.
BD: LOL, everyone thinks dad said that. He and I have this joke about Roy Scheider being pissed off about it for 25 years.
ED: I would be too! I hadn’t seen Jaws since we saw it as a family 20 years ago.
BD: I watched it with mom last year. She was like, “I love Jaws. My favorite part is when dad kills the shark,” and I was like, “Uh, he doesn’t,” and she was all, “Shut up, Ben. I was married to him for 10 years. He killed Jaws.” So we watched it and then she was like, “Huh, I could have sworn he killed Jaws. I’ve been telling people that my ex-husband killed Jaws.” “Well, I guess people think you were married to Roy Scheider.” “I guess so.”
ED: I mean, the way I read it last night, dad kind of fucked up and was semi-responsible for Quint’s death. He dropped the dagger, then swam away and hid, and then the shark ate the captain and Roy Scheider was a hero.
BD: Yeah, I mean, he had the pole knocked out of his hand. Then he swims away and hides. He had just gone down in the cage which was a pretty brave thing to do. By the time he hides he had no chance of killing Jaws. Like, either let yourself be eaten or swim and hide. Scheider was objectively the hero though.
ED: Yeah, I mean, dad had no other options, but I just forgot that he wasn’t the hero.
BD: Look, look, we love dad.
ED: Yes, to be clear, dad is the best.
BD: No one here is saying otherwise.
ED: I also forgot that his character was the rich kid! I guess I basically forgot everything.
BD: Oh yeah, with his tony, rich boat that they should have taken to avoid the whole death/sinking thing?
ED: I mean, they don’t even address that, which is ridiculous. Like, his boat had all the things they needed! Like sonar.
BD: Right? And Quint demands that they take his rickety piece of shit which is just an insane thing to do. The only reasonable thing to say to Quint when he makes that demand is, “Sir, you are insane. We are not putting our lives in the hands of an insane person. You’re fired. Good day.”
ED: “Also, we should add, you can’t catch a shark this big with a fishing pole. It had to be said.”
ED: Like, his big plan is that he is going to REEL it in with his human man arms.
BD: I was under the impression that he was using some sort of contraption to leverage the weight of the boat or something? But that might not be how science works.
ED: I don’t think so. I think he was using the power of a metal cup to help hold the fishing rod and that is that and then it shows him reeling in and letting out and then being like, “This shark is so smart! I can’t pull him in!”
BD: “He’s either very very smart or very very dumb.”
ED: LOL, yes. That’s the line. Then he hands the rod—with the shark on the line!—to Scheider who knows nothing about fishing and isn’t even strapped in!
BD: Then at the end he tries to tow him back to shore.
ED: Yeah and that works out well.
BD: Also, the entire notion of the shark following them out to sea seems suspect. Why would Jaws follow their dumb boat? It’s just one boat.
ED: Because of the dead fish and blood trail.
BD: That little bit of dead fish that Scheider throws in there though, it’s not much! Like it’s just a bit of blood. Jaws can eat that much fish whenever he wants.
ED: Oh oh oh, another thing that makes no sense is when dad and Roy find the boat with the dead fisherman at night and in the scariest moment of the film the dead body pops out and freaks dad out? WHY WOULD THE SHARK KILL THE FISHERMAN AND NOT EAT HIM? He is not a murderer. He’s a “maneater!” He would have eaten that body!
BD: Jaws: Actually a story of a shark out for revenge against Ben Gardner. All the other attacks are just to cover up his crime.
BD: I mean, maybe Jaws didn’t kill Ben Gardner. Maybe someone else did. Maybe they got away with it.
ED: Wow, you remembered that character’s name. I am kind of blown away.
BD: “That’s Ben Gardner’s boat.”
ED: Yeah, that is the line but like, what are you? A savant? I barely remember dad’s character’s name. I’m confused if it’s hooper or hopper.
BD: Emily, I know all the lines to almost all of dad’s movies. I watched them all dozens of times when I was young…It’s Hooper.
ED: Where was I? I watched Always a lot…and cried.
BD: Yeah, Always is sad. I love the bit of that movie when Holly Hunter comes down in the dress dad bought her and that song “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” plays. That song makes me cry.
ED: That is a very good moment. Ok, but so, we can agree, Jaws makes no sense.
BD: Yeah. Great film.
ED: Wonderful film.
BD: Makes no sense.
ED: Makes little sense.
BD: It could make more sense.
ED: It could make more sense!