The Shark Is Roaring: The Story of Jaws: The Revenge by Paul Downey
BearManor Media (August 2022)
200 pages; $37 hardcover; $27 paperback
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand
I haven’t seen it, but I’ve seen the house that it bought my mother and it’s marvelous. — Michael Caine
Paul Downey opens The Shark Is Roaring: The Story of Jaws: The Revenge with this quote from Michael Caine, and I think it’s the perfect summation of the movie’s place in the Jaws franchise — it’s the one people think the least of, including many of the people who worked on it.
The original Jaws is my favorite movie of all time. It’s one of those movies that walks the line between critical darling and commercial success with nary a stumble. It reshaped the movie industry and made Steven Spielberg a star. It also spawned a series of stellar “making-of” books ranging from screenwriter Carl Gottlieb’s The Jaws Log to On Location…On Martha’s Vineyard to Memories from Martha’s Vineyard to Joe Alves: Designing Jaws.
Jaws 2 is no Jaws, but it’s pretty damn good. So is Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel which The Shark Is Roaring publisher BearManor Media released in 2015 (and followed up with an expanded edition in 2018).
If there’s a book documenting the making of Jaws 3-D I haven’t heard of it. If it’s out there, lurking about, somebody let me know.
That brings us to Jaws: The Revenge, which typically vies with Jaws 3-D for the bottom slot in the franchise rankings, but has now bested it in at least one phase: someone wrote a book about it.
Paul Downey is not here to shine this movie up. He includes a guest essay called “Jaws The Worst” as one of the chapters, so….he knows, like we all know, that we’re at the bottom of the barrel here. But respect and maybe a little adoration for the movie lurk, like a shark, just beneath the surface….after all, he did put in the work necessary to research and write nearly 200 pages on the film.
It’s a deep dive as well, covering everything from the dorsal to the tail (as Quint might say). Downey explores the earliest incarnations of the story (it was once to be called Jaws ’87), looks at the casting process, the filming, the scoring (always an important part of the franchise), and includes sections on the novelization and the Nintendo game. The voices of the filmmakers, cast and crew feature heavily through a combination of quotes pulled from coverage of the film and interviews conducted by Downey for the this book.
Behind-the-scenes books like this often lean heavily on production photos, designs, storyboards and other such materials to fill out there pages, and that’s the one section where The Shark Is Roaring is lacking. Given the throwaway attitude Universal maintains towards this movie, I guess such material is probably hard to come by. Regardless, Downey is still able to paint a very thorough picture of what went into the making of Jaws: The Revenge.
If you’re a Jaws franchise completist like me, this definitely deserves a spot in your collection.