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A Goldmine of Pauline Kael Reviews

Filed under: Looked Into   Tagged: ,

Emily Gordon writes:

Just discovered this, here; it may even be the entirety of 5001 Nights, but I'll have to look into that. Just because it's a now-unsightly Geocities page (though there are far worse) doesn't mean it doesn't contain essential information. Like this, her review of Jaws (condensed from the long version in When the Lights Go Down:

US (1975): Horror
124 min, Rated PG, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

It may be the most cheerfully perverse scare movie ever made. Even while you're convulsed with laughter you're still apprehensive, because the editing rhythms are very tricky, and the shock images loom up huge, right on top of you. The film belongs to the pulpiest sci-fi monster-movie tradition, yet it stands some of the old conventions on their head. Though JAWS has more zest than an early Woody Allen picture, and a lot more electricity, it's funny in a Woody Allen way. When the three protagonists are in their tiny boat, trying to find the shark that has been devouring people, you feel that Robert Shaw, the malevolent old shark hunter, is so manly that he wants to get them all killed; he's so manly he's homicidal. When Shaw begins showing off his wounds, the bookish ichthyologist, Richard Dreyfuss, strings along with him at first, and matches him scar for scar. But when the ichthyologist is outclassed in the number of scars he can exhibit, he opens his shirt, looks down at his hairy chest, and with a put-on artist's grin says, "You see that? Right there? That was Mary Ellen Moffit-she broke my heart." Shaw squeezes an empty beer can flat; Dreyfuss satirizes him by crumpling a Styrofoam cup. The director, Steven Spielberg, sets up bare-chested heroism as a joke and scores off it all through the movie. The third protagonist, acted by Roy Scheider, is a former New York City policeman who has just escaped the city dangers and found a haven as chief of police in the island community that is losing its swimmers; he doesn't know one end of a boat from the other. But the fool on board isn't the chief of police, or the bookman, either. It's Shaw, the obsessively masculine fisherman, who thinks he's got to prove himself by fighting the shark practically single-handed. The high point of the film's humor is in our seeing Shaw get it; this nut Ahab, with his hypermasculine basso-profundo speeches, stands in for all the men who have to show they're tougher than anybody. The shark's cavernous jaws demonstrate how little his toughness finally adds up to. This primal-terror comedy quickly became one of the top-grossing films of all time. With Lorraine Gary; Murray Hamilton; Carl Gottlieb, who co-wrote the (uneven) script with Peter Benchley, as Meadows; and Benchley, whose best-seller novel the script was based on, as an interviewer. Cinematography by Bill Butler; editing by Verna Fields; music by John Williams. Produced by Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown, for Universal. (Spielberg didn't direct the sequels-the 1978 JAWS 2, the 1983 JAWS 3-D, and the 1987 JAWS THE REVENGE.)
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book When the Lights Go Down.

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This is fantastic, thank you!

It’s all gone now. :(

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