Saturday night myself and two other teachers took 12 students who are connected to our Film and IB Film classes from the high school where I teach to see Jaws, which has an 8.1 out of 10 on IMDB and 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, on a big screen and then participate in a crowd wide question and answer session with Richard Dreyfuss, Hooper in the film. All of the students had been taught the film before, but the experience was one that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
The night began with dinner at an amazing new Japanese restaurant in Clearwater, FL called Volcano Japanese Cuisine, where for a mere $16 per person you had full access to their sushi menu and any other dish. As much as you wanted made to order only. For many of the students it was their first time with sushi and since they could try almost anything many did. It was exquisite and it almost made us late to the film. However, it would turn out that I would be the reason we are late.
The restaurant that I had selected via Yelp was only four minutes away from Ruth Eckerd Hall. The venue who’s website I had used to order the tickets, who’s name was printed on the ticket, would turn out to be the wrong venue for the actual event. We pulled in to Ruth Eckerd Hall and started to look to park with only five minutes or so until the movie was supposed to begin. We decided to ask a security guard where we should park and then we found out that the venue hosting Richard Dreyfuss and the movie was twenty minutes away.
We rushed to the venue and were able to get into the film just before the Kinter boy became an appetizer to the great white. I was able to see Jaws in the theater this past summer thanks to the 40th anniversary, but it was still so great to watch on the big screen. It was even better when my students reacted at the right moments. They jumped at the right parts, laughed, and cheered when it concluded.
My favorite scene in Jaws is Quint’s speech about the USS Indianapolis, as it is for many, and it gives me chills every time. In fact, that whole scene with the scar comparison and the singing is probably my favorite aspect of the film. The characters are so interesting and well acted. This is of course the film that made Spielberg’s career.
I’m happy that my choice to watch Catch Me If You Can since it segues nicely with Jaws, as Spielberg directs both. I think the greatest thing that happened to Spielberg’s career was the shark not working. The use of the barrels to replace the shark is such a great part of the film. Not to mention, the POV shots underwater that let the audience become a shark. I could go into so much detail and break down the film, but it’s been done. This is a classic that, if you’ve never seen, you should.
The best part of the night was when Richard Dreyfuss came out for the Q&A. He entered carrying to plates of cookies and handed them to the front row. An odd sight for sure, but quite entertaining. He walked back off stage and returned with a cane…not just any cane, but what appeared to be a Hurrycane. The second he spoke it was clear that Hooper was in the house. The host, who’s name I never heard, got the conversation started and listed some of his great movies. To my dismay, What about Bob? wasn’t on the list and I was disappointed.
The host asked Dreyfuss what made him take the script of an unknown director, to wit Dreyfuss said “everyone knew Stephen,” and continued to explain that people expected Spielberg to become who he has become. Dreyfuss then said he initially didn’t accept the job stating, “It’s going to be a bitch to shoot and I’m really lazy.” He apparently turned the role of Hooper down twice before shifting gears and begging to play the character after watching a film of his that he wasn’t proud of his performance.
The best part of the conversation had to be when the host asked about the feud with Robert Shaw, Quint, while filming. Richard Dreyfuss said that those were nothing but rumors. He loved and respected Robert and, while Robert did get under his skin intentionally, had nothing but admiration towards the celebrated actor. Dreyfuss told of a story where Shaw was upset over a film that had come out he was apart of, and explained that they messed up the scene. He then proceeded to read the play to Dreyfuss. When Shaw was done the entire crew was looking through the portholes at the two men, including Spielberg, because Shaw was so amazing.
Several people got up and asked questions and Dreyfuss couldn’t’ have been more great with the stories he responded to. He gave the audience about two hours of his time and some great memories. My students were so excited and grateful for the opportunity to see an acting icon live and in person. I give the entire experience a 10 out of 10 bigger boats!