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Jaws and Roy Scheider

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In the Summer of '75, I hopped on my bike and followed my big brother, Karl and his friend Barry to the Gateway theater to see my first movie for "grown-ups", Jaws. I was eleven, and couldn't have been more excited to be allowed to see the movie that was the event of that summer. It was all the talk, with were rumors of gruesome moments and scenes that would scare you out of your seat. I wondered how I would hold up, and did jump at the porthole scene (who didn't?), but loved the movie, and still do. Jaws was a transitional moment in American movies, the first new blockbuster which weaved in scenes till then seen only in independent flicks. There's so much to love in it, and at age eleven I was taken with the suspense, the shark (of course), and the antics of Shaw and Dreyfuss. But I've come to better appreciate the fine, everyman performance of Roy Scheider as Chief Brody, which holds the movie together and gives it its heart. That touching and funny scene where his kid mimics him is powerful because it pauses the spectacle for a moment to show the vulnerable side of the tough and craggy man when he says, "Give us a kiss." He was also great in a lesser known thriller with Ann Margaret, 52 Pick-up, based on an Elmore Leonard novel. And he displayed many more talents in the exuberant portrayal of dancer/choreographer, Bob Fosse (directing the semi-autobiographical film), All That Jazz, for which he earned an Oscar nomination. Both are worth checking out, as well as many other movies from his long and solid career. He ad libbed that great line from Jaws: "You're gonna need a bigger boat." Nice job, Roy.

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