With apologies to Jane and Rita

I’ll admit it, I was too scared to see this movie when it came out. My failure. Watching it for the first time over the Labor Day weekend made me cringe, not from fear, but from embarrassment.

All those seventies people on the beach. Bad clothes, bad haircuts. White bodies and nobody’s putting on sunscreen! Middle-aged guys run the town with smug complacency. There’s one outspoken woman at the town meeting, a motel owner worried about business, but she’s just irritating and they ignore her.

Otherwise it’s just wives and mothers, with a few teenage girls thrown in for titillation. The menfolk are out there doing what menfolk do:  protecting their wives and children from menace. The womenfolk mostly stand by and take orders; keeping the children in line doesn’t leave room for much else, except maybe a bit of fooling around when the tots are finally in bed.

Maybe if I’d seen “Jaws” thirty years ago, I’d have gotten a kick out of watching the set pieces again. Quint’s fingernails on the blackboard. Brody’s classic line (ad-libbed, apparently):  “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Call me Ishmael, but I don’t understand what all the hype was about.