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Movies you missed: 'Jaws'

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It's time for Movies You Missed.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

HUMPHREY BOGART: (As Rick Blaine) Here's looking at you, kid.

CLARK GABLE: (As Rhett Butler) Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

MARLON BRANDO: (As Terry Malloy) I could have been a contender.

BETTE DAVIS: (As Margo Channing) Fasten your seatbelts.

CUBA GOODING JR: (As Rod Tidwell) Show me the money.

ROBERT DE NIRO: (As Travis Bickle) You talking to me?

ESTELLE REINER: (As Older Woman Customer) I'll have what she's having.

OPRAH WINFREY: (As Sofia) I ain't never thought I had to fight in my own house.

BRANDO: (As Stanley Kowalski) Stella.

SIMON: This week, be careful in the water - dun, dun dun.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JAWS")

ROY SCHEIDER: (As Martin Brody) You're going to need a bigger boat.

SIMON: "Jaws," 1975, directed by Steven Spielberg, of course, stars Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw. A trio in the hunt for an enormous great white shark is terrorizing the New England coastline over the 4 of July. "Jaws" invented the modern blockbuster. Just about everyone in the world has seen it, except Marie Vega, a health insurance worker in Weymouth, Mass.

Thanks for being with us.

MARIE VEGA: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: And Lydia Mullan, editor of a sailing magazine that's in Cambridge. It's called SAIL in Cambridge, Mass.

Thanks very much for being with us.

LYDIA MULLAN: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: First off, I hate to put you on the spot, Marie. No, I don't. That's what this segment is all about. How did you miss "Jaws"?

VEGA: When I was a kid, my younger brother was afraid of sharks and was absolutely convinced that they lived under his bed. And so my mom forbade us all from watching the movie. And anything related to sharks, we were not allowed to do it because it would scare my brother.

SIMON: Oh.

VEGA: (Laughter).

SIMON: And Lydia Mullen, how did you avoid it?

MULLAN: Yeah, actually it was my mom as well (laughter). I was taking sailing lessons as a kid as part of our, like, local boat club. And my mom was really worried that if I saw "Jaws," I would quit because I'd be too scared. And I guess her plan worked out because I'm still sailing and still working at SAIL magazine now.

SIMON: Well, we asked you both to see the film. Let's take it in turn, if we could. Marie, then Lydia, what did you think?

VEGA: I actually kind of liked it. I didn't think I would. I think it holds up pretty well, comparatively. You know, like, I've seen other movies maybe later on in life that don't stand up. But this one seems to have. I actually liked it.

MULLAN: Yeah, I was expecting it to be a bit more, like, horror and a bit more gory, I guess. And there's a lot more plot than I thought there would be. I liked it as well.

SIMON: Yeah, there's a lot of plot as a matter of fact.

MULLAN: (Laughter) There's a lot of plot.

SIMON: They reportedly had all kind of production problems with the mechanical shark that somebody nicknamed Bruce. You know, so much, obviously, in the world of CGI has been invented since then. But did the special effects hold up for both of you?

MULLAN: Yeah, I thought the shark - particularly when it's in the water and swimming, I think still looks quite realistic. I don't know what a shark attack looks like in particular, but I think when it jumps up on the boat and sort of just starts thrashing about, maybe that looks a little bit fake. But when it's in the water, I think it's pretty good.

VEGA: Yeah, I agree. I - when the shark is swimming, definitely it looks like a shark. But it was a little stiff coming out of the water there. It just was like - you can tell it was animatronic at that point.

SIMON: It was also tired, I should think - right? - coming up out of the water.

VEGA: I would imagine (laughter).

SIMON: I, of course, was going - dun, dun, dun, dun - because everybody knows what you're talking about. It's a John Williams score, I believe, isn't it?

VEGA: Uh-huh.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN WILLIAMS' "JAWS")

MULLAN: It's iconic. I think - I mean, even having never seen the movie, I recognized it. The whole thing throughout was quite moving. And I think he uses silence really well as well, in addition to the loud spots of it. That's - I mean, that's one of the big things I noticed in watching the movie, was actually the audio of it.

VEGA: Same. It set the tone so well just from, like, the opening credits, even. You were already on the edge of your seat.

SIMON: I gather, Marie Vega, that you found the movie very resonant for our times?

VEGA: I think so. I looked at it as sort of, like, a study of just how people respond to emergencies and, you know, most recently, like, the pandemic, you know? And it was really interesting to me to see the mayor's reaction to the shark and trying to, like, sweep it under the rug. And...

SIMON: Yeah. Let's not get hasty now and close everything down.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JAWS")

MURRAY HAMILTON: (As Mayor Larry Vaughn) Look, we depend on the summer people here for our very lives.

RICHARD DREYFUSS: (As Matt Hooper) You're not going to have a summer unless you deal with this problem.

HAMILTON: (As Mayor Larry Vaughn) And if you close those beaches, we're finished.

SCHEIDER: (As Martin Brody) We're not only going to have to close the beach. We're going to have to hire somebody to kill the shark. I mean, we're going to have to tell the Coast Guard. We're going to have to get shark repellent.

DREYFUSS: (As Matt Hopper) Mister, you have to contract a shark research panel.

SCHEIDER: (As Martin Brody) We're going to have to put extra deputies on because there ain't nothing in the world that's going to come in here.

DREYFUSS: (As Matt Hopper) You have to ring this entire harbor with 100 gauge...

SCHEIDER: (As Martin Brody) We've got to spend money to save what we've got.

HAMILTON: (As Mayor Larry Vaugh) I don't think either one of you are familiar with our problems.

DREYFUSS: (As Matt Hopper) I think that I am familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you in the ass. Now wait a second, wait a second...

MULLAN: Yeah. I mean, I didn't necessarily think of it in those terms when I was watching it. But as Marie's explaining that, I think it totally rings true. There's definitely, you know, a group of people ringing alarm bells and folks not listening to them - I mean, I guess in terms of pandemic, but also in terms of the climate change and also in terms of many of our other crises. So, yeah, I think it's an interesting lens to look at modern times through.

SIMON: Lydia Mullan and Marie Vega, two new fans of "Jaws," thanks for being with us.

MULLAN: Thank you.

VEGA: Thank you so much. This was fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: And if there's a movie that you missed, you can tell us all about it by going to n.pr/moviesyoumissed.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.