40 years ago this week, “Jaws” made a bed-wetter out of me

image I was a few weeks short of my ninth birthday when Jaws premiered in our local theater. Even though I wasn’t old enough to see it, that didn’t keep us from sneaking into the darkened cinema to experience a movie that prolonged the bed-wetting experience by at least two years. Though I lived in Redondo Beach at the time, I was never a big fan of being on — or in — the ocean. To me, the sea was like a bees’ nest; naturally beautiful and the keeper of deliciousness, but I wasn’t going to stick my hand inside.

In the years since then, “Jaws” has become one of my favorite movies — an example of masterful storytelling by Steven Spielberg that is as engrossing today as it was 40 years ago. While I could identify most with Roy Scheider’s “Chief Brody,” it was Robert Shaw’s portrayal of “Quint” the shark hunter that I have come to appreciate the most — and whose telling of the “delivery of the bomb” still mesmerizes me every time.

That said, here’s a mini tribute to Jaws and Quint, with a little help from DubSmash…

When Jaws returns this summer for its 40th anniversary, I’m betting it won’t be the only thing released in theaters that weekend…



(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. Still looking for that perfect book for summer reading? Ned’s first book, Humor at the Speed of Life,available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. Disclaimer: You should still use sunscreen when reading this book)

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I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

84 thoughts on “40 years ago this week, “Jaws” made a bed-wetter out of me”

  1. Just the sound of the music makes me break out in a cold sweat. Benchley’s book scared me half to death, and the movie took it the rest of the way. *shudder* I haven’t been out in the water past my knees since! And great delivery, Ned…you missed your calling. But it’s not too late. Just head south, and tell them you’re ready for your close up! 🙂

    1. Haha! I watch Jaws once or twice a year and can’t wait to see it on the big screen again as an adult. My kids have never seen it, so I’ll be taking them, too. And wrapping their beds in plastic…

      1. I’ve seen it so many times! I’ve even watched the crappy sequels. 😛 One of the best movie lines, ever: You’re gonna need a bigger boat. 😯

    1. Lol! I think I missed the excerpt window, didn’t I? I wanted to post one from “No Safe Harbor” — which, with the Jaws theme, seeems especially fitting now! 😉

      Thanks, Marcia!

        1. I’m playing editor this week while she’s on vacation, so it’s a little crazy here (more than normal), but I will try my best to get something posted by Sunday! 😉

          1. I know People. People in important positions. If you’re late, I’ll make a few calls, pull a few strings, and you can still play. 😀

  2. It was sooooo scary!! I think I may have done the same thing to my son this past weekend. He’s 7 and I got it in my head we would watch Jurassic Park, until the scary bits. Turns out I forgot about the part at the very beginning where a dude gets eaten. Of course my son waited until he got to his Dad’s to have his nightmare. Total Mom fail!! I bet he’ll be writing something like your post in 40 years 🙂

  3. My dad took me to see this. I was seven. And I had to be forced into the bathtub for weeks, and I slept with my feet tucked under the sheets ’cause bedsharks. His other daughter was unfazed, but I made him pay….

    1. Lol! Bedsharks! I can see the fin coming up the comforter…

      It’s funny how our bed is always a safe zone when we’re kids, like the monsters know it’s off limits as long as we keep are hands and feet inside the magic rectangle of protection.

  4. Oh man, I still remember the scene where the head rolled by the hole in the sunken boat… the second time I saw it it didn’t startle me as badly, and I could feel the whole row of seats bounce back as people recoiled in horror… still to this day if I skin dive through kelp I hear that freekin’ music.

  5. Ha! I loved Jaws and saw it when it first came out in the theaters. Then I fell madly in love with Robert Shaw. What can I say, apparently I have a thing for slightly psychotic shark hunters 😉

  6. Dang, can i so relate?…
    and, I swear this is a true story: I literally refused to stop sleeping in my (formerly much beloved and highly coveted by my every brother) waterbed after seeing Jaws as a young girl!

    1. Hahahaha! I totally get that. I can only imagine the nightmares you would’ve had! Especially if you brothers sneaked in at night and rocked the waterbed…

    1. You have to havethe video somewhere with a link (YouTube, Facebook). Copy the link, then it’s just like inserting a photo in your post, except use the media option and paste the link into the “url” window.

      Let me know if you have any problems!

  7. i first saw this, when it came out, not knowing much about it. holy hell! and i have loved it and been terrified by it ever since.

    1. I think it’s the characters that make it so frightening. Scheider, Dryfuss and Shaw are so believable, and you care about them — so the thought of them getting eaten is horrifying. Plus there are all the jump scares. And that music!

  8. Living as far from the ocean as you can get, Jaws>/i> never scared me. Children of the Corn though, that scared me. I went to school with kids like that.

    1. Haha! I can see how Children of the Corn would strike a little closer to home for you. Oddly enough, even here on thee coast, we have “corn” kids here, too.

  9. I was too young, but I remember first hearing the word “gross” in association with this movie. It was gross. So gross.
    Jaws does hold up really well. Talk about building tension. By contrast, I watched Star Wars (ep. IV) last week and, well, when you look at it objectively, it’s really not a great movie. I can’t believe I’m saying that. Membership revoked!

        1. I have to agree with you in that dialogue has never been Lucus’s strong point. And it got even worse with the last three (I, II and III). Just aweful. The dialogue didn’t get believable until Chewbacca came along.

            1. Of course! Starwars is like McDonald’s fries; not a lot of substance or nutritional value, but I never get tired of eating them a few times a year.

              We’re altready gearing up for a family Star Wars fest once school is out.

  10. The first time I saw Jaws was in a drive-in movie theater with a friend. We parked about midway and jumped out of our skins when that shark shot out of the water into our faces.Emboldened, we decided to stay to see it again, this time parking right up front for the full experience. A friend of ours won the Oscar for the sound on Jaws.

    1. Haha! I always thought it would be really cool to have a showing in a harbor, so people could watch it on their boats or while on rafts. Now THAT would be scary!

      And your friend’s Oscar was well deserved 😉

  11. I saw Jaws when I was 15 — I still have an irrational fear of swimming in the ocean (or even in a swimming pool) alone. If I’m with someone, it’s better — I figure they have just as much chance of being noshed on as I do.

  12. Though I’ve seen it lots of times on tv, I never saw Jaws at the movies. I think I was in my “Everybody likes it so it must suck” phase. Or maybe I was unsure what state I was in–it was the ’70s and I was in college, after all. Always loved the part where the chief’s wife pooh-poohs her hubby’s worries about sharks, then sees the book illustration where the shark is devouring an entire boat, and yells at the kids to listen to their father and get out of the water.
    Shaw’s description of the shark’s eyes is spot-on for a couple of the boss’s kids (higher-ups in Dad’s company, of course) at the factory where I used ot work.

    1. Ha! I love that scene too. It always cracks me up. That and, “It’s only an island if you look at it from the water…”

      The movie is full of great lines, and yeah — Shaw’s scene talking about the sinking of his ship is, in my opinion, one of the great moments in cinema. Pure magic.

      1. Yup, love that line too.
        “Some bad hat, Harry”–actually your hat is cool, but it reminded me of that. Even more actually (yeah, that’s valid English, you bet), “Some bad man-boobs, Harry” would’ve been more to the point.
        Great imitation of Shaw, by the way.

  13. That music! Even now, every time I see a cop cruising slowly, or trailing behind me, I hear.. Da na. Da na. Da na da na da na… Land sharks.
    I’ve really got to see this as an adult, but I’m afraid I’ll never go back in the water if I do. It took years after my first trip to the theater. 🙂

  14. I hope they release the original ending, where it turns out it was a big misunderstanding, that the shark was really delivering much needed gallons of Kool-Aid to locals via its teeth. Then Brody, Quint and the shark get a beachside apartment together on par with The Odd Couple. Fingers crossed!

    1. I pushed the “like button” five times, Calahan. I heard rumors of such an ending, but also that it ended up on the cutting room floor along with the opening musical number, “Preditor Schmeditor…”

      1. No doubt. If the shark was on that committee, he may decide that soup made out of human penises (bigger the better) is tasty, then they’ll harvest them all and just throw what’s left back. That’d be something.

        1. uhm… well, that’s an interesting concept! But I don’t think sharks are that picky to which body parts they find as a delicacy! LOL!
          But I have to agree it would be something! 😛

          1. Especially since all those men who THINK they may fall victim to human penising (that would be the term for this harvesting) will stay out of the water. That pretty much leaves the waves to the ladies.

  15. Jaws. *shudder* We are within an hour from the coast and used to go all the time as a kid. I swear I wouldn’t go out into the water higher than my shins after that movie for another 10 years or so (and I only did that because some punk untied my top).

    There are so many things are turning 40. My kids are turning into Rush fans. Gawd…do I feel old!

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