Reprint from Flashfilms, October 2015.
This little story from the Spielberg Film Society newsletter, issue #18, is not so much a film review, it’s more of a confessional. This is how I celebrated the tenth anniversary of my favorite film, the one that started it all for me – Jaws. And when that traumatizing incident occurred, I was the tender age of twelve, not eleven, as I misremembered here, in 1985:
Dum-Dum, Dum-Dum, Dum-Dum, Daa-Dum… or, MCF 2716: File Under Films And Shows
by Joe Fordham (May 1985)
It was the evening of my eleventh birthday.
I'd come home from school and was anxiously waiting for Dad to come home. In a matter of hours, three of my school friends, Dad and I were going to the Plaza Cinema in Regent Street, London, as a special birthday treat for me. We were going to see Jaws – a film I had mixed feelings about at that time – it was a 'must see' already since its box office smash in America, and the story looked GREAT... but the nightmarish cover of the paperback novel, and a looming, grainy photograph of the 'star' (Carcharodon carcharias) that I had seen in a newspaper had started me thinking... maybe I might not be able to handle this after all.
Then Dad came home.
With him, he brought a surprise present wrapped up in dark brown wrapping paper, about twelve inches square and half a centimeter think. Pretty obviously, a record of some sort. Oh, interesting. A 'soundtrack.’ ‘What's this?’ I thought. The music from the film on a record? Hmmm.
I remember my first thought when the opening track had started to play. A locomotive. A huge, terrifying, black locomotive with an inferno in its belly and very probably no one at the footplate. Just a driving, powerful demon. This was not making me feel any less nervous. I was very quiet as my friends and I were being driven into London. We all sat and listened to Side Two of this record before Dad finally said, 'Let's go.' A friend of mine had read the book already and said he thought he knew what was happening at certain points in the record. I told him to shut up!
The rest for me, as Belloq says, 'is history.'
This MCA record, MCF 2716 (MCA 2087 in the U.S.), with the black label with a rainbow on it (something that became a nightmare image for me as a boy), was my first LP record. And I'm very proud to let people know that. I've since become heavily involved with movies, both loving and watching them, and making them. A lot of things are responsible for this pretty much all-consuming turn-of-events, but John Williams and the man who, for years, I had thought was called ‘Steven Spielly’ because of his scribbly signature on the back of this record, are without a doubt, two of the High Priests for me.
Why? Well, I'm not going to try to put it into words. If you haven't got this record I've been writing about THEN GET IT! If you have, then just plug yourself into it for a half hour or so. This record of the soundtrack and this movie are so thrilling, exhilarating, powerful and so full of magic that... that... -- let's just hope they'll be around for a long, long time. Happy Birthday, Jaws.
"Where we going?" "Swimming!” / "You're gonna need a bigger boat." / "Fast fish!" / "I used to be afraid of the water." "Can't imagine why."
Header image © Universal Pictures
Reprinted with permission, SSFS © May 1985