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Jaws at the Chatham Orpheum (Flack’s Review)

Posted on | August 17, 2013 | Add Comments

A day at the Chatham Orpheum TheaterBefore I start my review: Jaws is back at the Orpheum by popular demand. See it!!!

Cape Cod’s Chatham Orpheum movie theater has had a long history. But 21 years since the theater closed doors, it’s now re-opening thanks to $2.2 million, 3,000 donors, and hard working staff led by President Naomi Turner. Recently, Flick and I got a chance to see Jaws at the theater. Here’s my thoughts on the theater and review of the film.

When I first walked into the Chatham Orpehum theater on August 4, 2013 I was stunned. Paintings and shark sculptures line the walls and there’s even a mini restaurant/cafe with a bar and a few tables. The cafe features the menu from Vers, the larger restaurant downstairs. The concession stand has popcorn and lots of candy. All of the staff is extremely nice. You can really tell everyone working there loves movies. The attention to detail is astonishing; even the bathrooms have pictures of Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe on the doors.

After talking to staff, my family and I walked into the 162-seat movie theater with two bags of popcorn and a sky high excitement level. I was not disappointed. Delicious popcorn, no trailers, super comfy seats! And it just got better…

The opening credits for Jaws (1975)The lights went down. The movie started. Jaws’ underwater opening credits hauntingly lit up the screen, complete with John Williams chilling theme.

A Jaws poster designed specifically for the OrpheumI’d never seen Jaws before, which made the experience all the more enjoyable. The plot isn’t exactly original: an everyman police chief (Roy Schieder), a rich kid oceanographer (Richard Dreyfuss), and a weathered seaman (Robert Shaw) team up to hunt a great white shark terrorizing Amity Island. But director Steven Spielberg’s real achievement here is taking that basic concept and turning it into something more: a monster movie with heart.

Our heroes out at sea in Jaws (1975)The story is perfectly realized; every scene is the exact length it needs to be, no more, no less. There’s some very funny dialogue that makes for some classic arguments between the characters. The performances are also extraordinary. Schieder is quietly effective as Chief Brody, while Dreyfuss is brashly charming as Hooper. The standout, however, is Shaw. At first glance he’s just a colorful sea captain but, with his legendary tour de force monologue, Shaw gives the character a hidden depth.

The film is a miraculous production: sublime editing, memorable cinematography, precise direction, and one of the greatest musical scores of all time. In fact the suspense of it all is so terrifying that you won’t care about the fact the that the shark effects are slightly outdated.

Roy Schnieder in Jaws (1975)There are many iconic moments: the girl who swims just a bit too far, Quint’s first appearance, the floating head,  and the famous “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” line. But the sensational climax is the true high-point. William’s rousing score is the perfect fit for our heroes final showdown with the shark. The culmination is utter genius. Each of the main protagonists gets their own confrontation with the shark: Quint’s blood spitting clash, Hooper’s nail biting shark cage adventure, and Brody’s wildly explosive battle. This is action cinema at it’s peak.

Jaws is a masterpiece of film-making, even better appreciated considering the rough circumstances under which it was shot. Thrillingly gut wrenching, soulfully humane, and one of Spielberg’s best; Jaws may not be the single greatest movie of all time but, after one fantastic viewing, it’s one of my all time favorites. And seeing it on the big screen, with first-class surround sound and gorgeous digital projection, was a bonus.

My afternoon at the Orpheum seeing Jaws at the movies was a true treat. The Orpheum gives you hope for modern movie theaters in a multiplex filled world. Movies couldn’t have been brought back to Chatham better.

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