One of my favourite people on this planet, Jon Spira, also happens to be a ruthless critic – yes, far worse than me – and a mentor of mine. When he began reviewing the recent behind the scenes tell-all, Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel, on social media, I knew I had to share it. This review is equal parts eviscerating and side-splittingly funny. I hope you enjoy this guest review.
I read an entire book about the making of the film Jaws 2. It was not a good book, but I remain fascinated with behind-the-scenes stories of mediocre work. My favourite thing about it was the constant references to Roy Scheider’s sun addiction. After literally every take, he would rip his shirt off, lie down and stick a reflector around his neck. At first, people found it amusing and a little annoying as he was always out of costume while they were shooting, then they found it a bit rude, then they realised he was messing up the continuity of the film as the shade of his skin was changing on a daily basis. They were shooting out of order and on different coasts, so whole sequences wouldn’t cut together. The director and all of the producers separately begged him to stop but he ignored every one of them. He died of skin cancer.
My second favourite thing about the making of Jaws 2 book, which I read in its entirety, which wasn’t very good, was that a lot of people got fired. About ten of the main cast got fired and the original director and screenwriter got fired too. When you got fired on Jaws 2, nobody actually told you, what happened was a man would approach you and take you to a car where you would find your luggage – which somebody had gone into your hotel room and packed for you – and a plane ticket, and by the time you realised what this meant, you were already in transit to the airport. The director’s last words as the car drove him away were “What? What? WHAT?”
My third favourite thing about the making of Jaws 2 book, of which I read every single page, not 24 hours ago (at the time of writing), and did not find to be good value for money, is the story of the shark they made for it. The shark for the original Jaws movie had cost $250,000 and was problematic because the internal mechanics were made of steel, which corroded quickly in the saltwater of the sea. The new shark cost $1.5,000,000 and was made entirely from steel as there was a lack of communication. It corroded almost instantly and was incapable of closing its mouth, so spends most of the film with its mouth wide open, exposing all of the internal mechanisms. The one time the mouth worked, it chomped down on a boat and all of the teeth and gums fell out.
My fourth favourite thing about the making of Jaws 2 book I finished reading before bed last night, which was disappointing not just in eloquence, but also in print positioning, was the unnecessary but laboured revelation that one of the co-author’s aunts had dated a man who acted as Roy Scheider’s stand-in in the ‘Holiday Inn’ scene of Jaws 2. As a side note, later in the book, 50% of one page is given over to a black and white photo of a ‘Holiday Inn’ polystyrene cup which was used in the filming of this scene. The book cost me £16.24.
My fifth favourite thing about the Jaws 2 making-of book which was read cover-to-cover by me just this Sunday past, and which could be described as ‘amateurish’, is the somewhat inappropriate selection and titling of photographs.
My sixth favourite thing about Jaws 2: The Making Of The Hollywood Sequel, which was read, by me, beginning to end, and which could not be called ‘very good’, is this photograph, which appears completely without contextual commentary on page 193. I do encourage you to read the sentence and a half preceding it, though, which – even in context – is not as humorous an anecdote as the book’s authors seem to think.
Jon Spira is a filmmaker whose credits include Elstree 1976 and Anyone Can Play Guitar. Shifting gears somewhat, Jon’s next project is a book based on his life loving and working in video shops, Videosyncratic. You can follow his grumpy ramblings on twitter @videojon.
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