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The Jaws Log By Carl Gottlieb

Introduction to the 25th Anniversary Edition By Peter Benchley


When I agreed to write these few words as an introduction to the new edition of The Jaws Log, I saw no need to re-read the whole book. I recalled reading it in 1975 and thinking then that it was an admirably accurate, balanced, and fair account of the making of the movie.

Furthermore, over the ensuing twenty-five years, I had become comfortable with the recollections my personal memory bank had selected and shaped, and I wasn’t interested in disturbing the peace.

I opened the book, prepared to skim through it—just for refreshment, you understand—and was hooked. Instantly. I couldn’t put it down till I had read it straight through to the endnotes and final credits, for I found myself awash in vivid memories of the most astonishing, tumultuous, and momentous months of my life. Back in 1973 and 1974, nobody —myself least of all—knew that we were involved in the birth of a phenomenon that would retain a strange resonance in the culture for a quarter of a century . . . and in the worldwide debut of a director who would go on to influence the film industry like none other.

All of us, however, knew that we were witnessing something memorable, exciting, probably unprecedented, and, at times, altogether weird.

The making of Jaws has been chronicled ad nauseam, in print, on film, audio tape, video tape, laserdisc, and, most recently, DVD. But no one in any medium has come close to being as comprehensive or, more important, as accurate as Carl Gottlieb is in his updated Jaws Log. (In sheer, raw volume, of course, the Internet overwhelms everyone, but it’s unreliable: too many so-called facts go out into cyberspace unchecked and, often, dead wrong. I’m misquoted in the digital ether all the time, often credited with quips and epigrams that were actually uttered by my grandfather, who died in 1945.)

For me, re-reading Carl’s book was more than merely pleasurable. I’d forgotten how rich it is in detail about the movie business in general and about the appalling odds and apparently insurmountable obstacles that faced the brave souls determined to make Jaws on the open sea. I came away with renewed respect—“awe” is probably a better word—for the then twenty-six-year-old Steven Spielberg; for Director of Photography Bill Butler; for the incomparable producers, Richard Zanuck and David Brown; for the late and beloved Verna Fields; for Carl Gottlieb himself . . . and for many of the other characters you’ll meet here.

At the end of his foreword, while acknowledging the subjectivity and fallibility of memory, Carl says of his story, “This was how I saw it.”

Well, as far as I’m concerned, this is how it was.

—Peter Benchley, August, 2001


Excerpted from THE JAWS LOG: 30th Anniversary Edition, by Carl Gottlieb
Introduction copyright © 2001 by Peter Benchley
Reprinted by permission of Newmarket Press, 18 East 48 Street, New York, NY 10017,