The Great White Blu-Ray Hunt

Today is the day. The day JAWS came out on Blu-Ray. On my late and dearly missed Mom’s birthday, no less. And I had a solid plan to get it in my grubby hands.

It’s here…

Could I have ordered it online on Amazon? Sure. But when I saw this past Sunday there was a Best Buy exclusive coming out with 40 pages of stuff that I probably didn’t need but wanted, I decided that was the one to get. So I dropped Mrs. Von Luger off at Port Authority in NYC for a trip to sunny Mt. Pocono, PA and headed over to Best Buy on 44th and 5th. But first I killed some time at a Barnes and Noble two blocks down. Big mistake? Maybe…cause there were no more Collector’s Series copies of JAWS left when I got to Best Buy!

The back…

After mulling over my options and maybe buying the regular Blu-Ray, I made the choice to head down to 23rd and 6th to another Manhattan Best Buy. But this time I would be smart and call first to see if they had any left! Oh no – on hold for five minutes! Screw that! As I neared 34th Street I changed course and headed to Penn Station. Made a train by literally one minute, then headed East to Little Neck and the Von Luger Mobile. Then I set out to my “local” Best Buy in Carle Place, NY, deftly avoiding any sight of the office where I work a half a mile or so west of Best Buy (since today was a day off for yours truly).

Aaaaaannnndddd…..They didn’t have any copies of the Collector’s Series Digibook either. Ugh…. What to do? I stalled, looking blindly and punch-drunkedly for other stuff I couldn’t find anyway, while holding in my paws a copy of one of the few regular Blu-Ray copies left. I checked the Customer Kiosk for stock, to no avail. I asked Mike, the guy patrolling the movie/games sections, to no avail. I got on line to pay. I got off the line, hemming and hawing. I decided to look up on my phone just what the heck is in the Digibook and is it worth it, and found a video review which I watched in the store. That’s when I decided to have them order me a copy. Screw it. So I don’t have it today, no biggie.

Meantime, Mike the movies/games guy was looking behind the register to see if there were any regular copies left for a customer that asked him. Aaaaaannnndddd….. Someone left behind a copy of the Collector’s Series Digibook Thingie and my hero Mike saw me and handed it over, then I handed the other customer my regular copy (hopefully not too sweaty by now) and all was good in the ocean! Hurray for me! No waiting! Hemming and hawing paid off for the first time ever!

Now, the smattering of faithful VLB readers know how feel about JAWS. Truth be told, it’s my second favorite film behind The Great Escape, but it’s rapidly becoming 1 and 1A. Now, how is the Blu-Ray you ask? (OK, maybe you don’t give a crap, but I’m telling you anyway!)

First, the packaging is pretty sweet. 42 pages of stuff in the BB exclusive Digibook (boy, that word sounds silly when you keep saying it). Notes on the production, the cast and crew, the film’s influence and legacy, storyboards, a couple of script pages, great photos, etc.

Inside Front Cover

The Intro by Richard Zanuck

Benchley novel

Roy Scheider

Storyboards

Ah, but let’s pop that sucker in the old Blu-Ray player. Man, it looks amazing. Fantastic digital restoration. Crystal clear, but not to the point of looking fake. Depth and detail is fabulous. And it sounds terrific. John Williams’ masterful score is better than ever.

Blu-Ray Main Menu

“It’s a Digibook.” “A wha??”

“Hey, thanks for breakfast!”

For some reason, this made me think of Mummenschanz

Fast fish! One of my Dad’s favorite scenes.

But the real pull for me, in addition to the great extras from previous versions, which include an awesome 2-hour Making of JAWS documentary that first showed up on the super Laserdisc edition, is the inclusion of The Shark Is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of Jaws, which I heard about 5 years ago and finally got to see. Great clips and interviews! Narrated by Roy Scheider! Richard Dreyfuss mimicking the shark! Three uses of the word “recalcitrant” in one minute! Schweet…..The only bad thing is it’s not in full HD. What’s up with that? Eh, no matter. Just wish my Dad was around to share this with. It was his second favorite movie also.

The doc is worth the price of admission

My favorite part of the new doc is Spielberg watching the Oscar nominations…with Joe Spinell (!) who exclaims about the non-nod for Steve: “Who made the picture,  somebody’s muthah?” Or maybe my favorite part is how they talk about the Signature Collection Laserdisc and how people bought Laserdisc players just to get this set, which included one of the best docs ever made, the famous Laurent Bouzerau one which is more of a must-see than this new guy. (They’re both on the new disc!) Well, what are you waiting for? Get thee to a Blu-Ray store!

Here’s another GREAT article about the restoration, and the film, courtesy of The New Yorker. (Thanks to Drax for sharing!)

Images from the Blu-Ray © Universal Studios.

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Published in: on August 14, 2012 at 9:17 pm  Comments (9)  
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The Fabulous Richard Z

Movie producer-filmmaker-mogul Richard Zanuck (1934-2012) passed away on July 13 (yes, as usual I’m behind the times), leaving behind a damn good resume. Of course, it starts with Jaws. No, that’s not where he started, but for me, it’s his most important film. But that’s not the whole story by any stretch.

Surfer dude RZ? Looks like it to the Jaws crew!

Zanuck’s father was legendary figure Daryl F. Zanuck, who actually put Richard in the prestigious position of head of production at Fox Studios at the ripe old age of 28 (!). The story goes Daryl was rehired by struggling Fox in 1962, but since he was not willing to give up his Parisian mistresses, he asked Richard to give him a list of candidates to run the studio, and the answer was a piece of paper with the word “Me.” Kinda ballsy, and it payed off. Fox earned over 150 Oscar® nominations during the younger Zanuck’s reign, including three Best Picture wins (The Sound of Music, Patton, The French Connection).

However, when the studios started to struggle, son took the fall and was dismissed by father, which set off a long period of animosity (which was thankfully forgiven  before Daryl’s passing). And the rest is kinda history because Richard teamed with David Brown to form The Zanuck/Brown Company based at Universal, and the hit parade began to march, including The Sugarland Express (directed by some kid named Spielberg), 1973 Best Picture winner The Sting (although they’re not mentioned in the credits from what I understand), The Eiger Sanction, a small movie named Jaws, Jaws 2 (watch out for that cable!), The IslandNeighborsThe Verdict, Cocoon, and Oscar winner Driving Miss Daisy. Heck, they even won the 1991 Irving Thalberg Award, one of the most prestigious honors in Hollywood.

Zanuck went on solo, or co-producer with third wife Lili Fini Zanuck (second wife was Linda Harrison aka smokin hot Nova from the first two Planet of the Apes movies), to produce a slew of good films, which include RushWild BillMulholland FallsDeep Impact,  the underrated Clint Eastwood thriller True Crime, the fun Reign of Fire, and the awesome and supremely overlooked masterpiece Road to Perdition.

In recent years, Zanuck was Tim Burton’s producer of choice, paving the way for such hits and misfires (you decide) as the Planet of the Apes remake (OK, I’ll decide on that one–it stinks!), Big FishCharlie and the Chocolate Factory (much better than it should have been but still no Willy Wonka), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (bloody good!), the over-ambitious Alice in Wonderland, and Dark Shadows.

But ultimately, for me, any Zanuck mention can’t leave out Jaws. Merely the second greatest movie of all time. The best story I read in some of Zanuck’s obits was this one, where hands-on producer Zanuck was on set on day, on a boat off of Mah-tha’s Vineyard with Spielberg, and as the two were lucky enough to see the famous mechanical shark sink, Mr. Z said to Mr. S: “Gee, I hope that’s not a sign.”

RIP, Richard Zanuck. Thank you for your contributions to the world of cinema. And mostly for contributing to a movie that means so much to me, and instantly fills me with memories of my late father, Thaddeus J. Tura (1933-1996).

Thanks also to The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly for some of the facts/stories which I will admit I had not heard before Zanuck’s unfortunate passing.

Published in: on August 9, 2012 at 10:56 pm  Comments (3)  
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