My late father was not much of a moviegoer. He was a big fan of the western genre, which he could find all over the airwaves. Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Have Gun Will Travel, Rawhide, Wagon Train – he enjoyed them all, when they were new and later on via the magic of television syndication. Late in his life he lamented the lack of new westerns to view so simply stuck with the old stuff. They do seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur on the large screen and the small. *sigh* I sort of like westerns too, probably since that’s what my sibs and I cut our teeth on so to speak. Variety shows were a big thing during my childhood, dad rarely missed Ed Sullivan or Jackie Gleason. Then there were the comedies of the old variety, such as The Honeymooners and The Andy Griffith Show. Those were a pleasure for him to watch and he enjoyed Archie Bunker (All in the Family) up until the day of his death, dad’s not Archie’s. Yes, dad liked is TV when he was in the mood for it, but it was a rare event for him to attend a movie at the local theater. However, a movie that came out 45 years ago this summer drew him out of his favorite recliner and downtown. He stood in line with the rest of us to watch the initial “Jaws."
It’s hard for me to believe “Jaws” debuted when I was a teenager. It seems newer, partly because of that same television magic that keeps actors and the movies they starred in with us, sometimes ad nauseum. One of my pet peeves are channels that show a relatively decent film, it ends and then proceeds to be shown over again. And again. And again. Oi. Many are good enough to watch once, but not three or four times in a row (unless it’s To Kill a Mockingbird of course). It seems counterproductive to enhance viewership by playing the same movie over, but what do I know.
In any case, I’m long past my teenage years but can hear the soundtrack from “Jaws” even now. The “duhn-duhn” repeated as the shark was going to attack, and that little tinkling sound, chimes I believe, when a scene change and a long ocean view shot was upcoming. The casting was pretty good, Richard Dreyfuss (Matthew Hooper) and Robert Shaw (Captain Quint) being my favorites in their respective roles. That mechanical shark looked very real with its mouth wide open to receive whatever was in its path.
The grandkids and I were playing a movie trivia game not so long ago, trying to guess in what decade certain movies debuted. They’ve both seen many a western, including just about anything John Wayne ever appeared in, as well as every “Star Wars” flick old and new, “Grease”, “Footloose”, “Dirty Dancing”, “Little Giants” and “The Sandlot” to name but a few. They did very well. I discovered that my memory banks are in great working order for movies from the 1960s and 70s, but the 1980s and 90s sort of slide together for me unless the movie was a blockbuster such as “Titanic” (1997). Thus I attempted to rate my favorite movie of each decade that was filmed within my lifetime. It was hard! For the 1960’s the aforementioned “To Kill a Mockingbird” is tops. The 1970’s would be “Star Wars”, which had the “A New Hope” tag added later. The 1980s is a toss-up between “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (yes I am a Harrison Ford fan). The 1990s is “The Shawshank Redemption”. During the beginning of the 21st century my vote goes to “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy (Tolkien’s works weren’t followed absolutely but the movies worked for me). Now 2010 to the present day is the toughest of all. I’ll go with another tie: “Hidden Figures” and “The Zookeepers Wife”.
Movies…just as with books so many, so little time. Even in self isolation.