I (re)watched Jaws last night. I hadn't seen it since I saw it in the theater as a kid -- or, well, it would have been the drive-in, I guess.
My mother used to take a whole pack of kids with us to the drive-in on Thursday nights in the summer. Thursday night was dollar-a-car night. She'd make a big grocery sack full of popcorn, fill some canteens with water, and take us all. I remember sitting on the hood of the car munching popcorn, the stink of spray-on mosquito repelled stinging my nose, gazing up at the immense screen. It was usually a double feature with cartoons sandwiched in between, and kids usually fell asleep somewhere in the middle of the second movie. Though not me: insomnia meant I was always awake when the second movie ended around midnight or one a.m. and my mother drove us home through the empty streets.
ANYWAY. That would have been where I saw Jaws the first time. I remember the middle best -- the shark eating the dog. Watching it last night, I felt a pang of memory at that scene.
The movie holds up pretty well. Richard Dreyfuss is really good, and the pacing works. The roboshark is clearly fake in some scenes, but that doesn't really hurt the movie much. The dialogue is good, although the 1970s movie-habit of having everyone talk at once was kind of annoying.
Also, of course, there are no real women characters. Chief Brody's wife exists to smile supportively, and the first victim exists to take her shirt off and get killed. Only men exist as actual characters, and only men's experiences matter.
I've been listening to the book via YouTube (you can get all sorts of free audiobooks on YouTube now) and wow, is it badly written. I'm an hour and a half into the book and so far most of the time has been spent describing what sandwiches people are eating, and what minor characters look like, and the deep background of characters who never show up again in the story. Blah blah blah.
Like the movie, it's a sausage-fest, but the dialogue in the book sucks. Peter Benchley helped write the screenplay: someone else must have done all the actual writing.
Anyway, watch the movie if you have a couple hours to spare and want a view of life in the 1970s. Stay away from the book.