Dun-dun, dun-dun, dun-dun, dun-dun…..
This past Wednesday night, I went out to New Bedford’s Zeiterion Theater to watch a screening of the summertime classic JAWS. The Z, as we locals call it, began life as a vaudeville palace in 1923, and five months later changed its name to The State and ran the latest silent movies. The State operated as a movie house until the late 70’s, with the historic building refurbished in 1982 and retro rebranded as the Zeiterion, hosting concerts, plays, dance, and other performing arts. The city (which now owns and operates the Z) recently purchased a state-of-the-art high-definition digital projector and, after an absence of almost a year, movies are back in New Bedford! They kicked off a “summer series” of films with Steven Spielberg’s summer blockbuster scarefest, filmed not far from here (just a fast ferry ride away aboard the Sea Streak) on Martha’s Vineyard.
And what a FIN-tastic experience it was! It was the perfect film to start with for the #1 fishing port in America, and the place was jam-packed. Imagine that, an almost full house to watch a 42-year-old film on a Wednesday night! I enjoyed watching the little kids seeing the movie for the first time as much as I did watching it myself. Everybody jumped and screamed when Richard Dreyfuss , exploring an abandoned boat underwater, was startled by a dead body popping up – including me, and I’ve seen JAWS at least 30 times! A similar reaction occurred at the shark’s first appearance, scaring the bejeezus out of both Roy Scheider and us. Spontaneous applause erupted from the crowd on three different occasions; when Jaws is blown to smithereens, when Dreyfuss emerges from the deep alive, and of course at Scheider’s iconic “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” line!
The audience was crazy about Quint, the crusty sea captain played by Robert Shaw . It seems everybody around these parts knows a “Quint” down at the docks! Dreyfuss had more than his share of fans in the seats, too. As for myself, I liked all of Spielberg’s little “in-jokes” and film quotes, honoring Hitchcock and the 50’s sci-fi movies he grew up with. And the sound was awesome, with most people humming along to John Williams’ famous “dun-dun, dun-dun, dun-dun” theme. All in all, a great night out watching a great film with a great crowd. Much as I sometimes complain about all the negative shenanigans that go on in New Bedford these days (drug dealing, gang violence, etc) , there are still a lot of good people living here, and some good things going on as well. Next up in the Z’s “Summer Movie Series” they will be showing another one of my favorites, 1993’s coming-of-age baseball comedy THE SANDLOT. Anyone want to guess where I’ll be on July 12?