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View Full Version : HELP! Re: Vincent Canby quote re: Jaws



James Flower
11-08-2010, 11:23 AM
Hello fellow Maniacs,

I'm in a hell of a bind and I'm desperately posting this here in the hope someone might know the answer.

For my masters degree, I'm currently doing a module about 1970s "New Hollywood", and I pitched an essay idea to my tutor last week about New World Pictures, specifically how the rise of the blockbuster affected Corman's business model. Needless to say, the tutor didn't like that idea, so I pulled a somewhat related plan B out of my arse, which was the idea of proving/disproving a quote popularly attributed to Vincent Canby: "What is Jaws but a big-budget Roger Corman film?" The tutor seemed much happier with that idea, so off I went to do some research. Only a rather big problem has come up...

... I can't find the source of the Canby quote anywhere. It's not in his review of Jaws, or Jaws 2... hell, I even tried his review of Alligator, but no joy. (I thought for sure it would be in a review of the original Piranha, but it doesn't look like Canby ever reviewed that film.)

Can anyone please help me out and point me in the right direction? At the moment the only evidence I have that Canby said this quote is the fact Corman keeps bringing it up, and I'm almost starting to wonder whether Corman invented it. :confused:

Marshall Crist
11-08-2010, 01:38 PM
Did he review PIRANHA?

Steve R
11-08-2010, 01:59 PM
I believe the actual quote is, '"Jaws" is, at heart, the old standby, a science-fiction film."
Here's the full review - http://www.nytimes.com/1975/06/21/movies/moviesspecial/21JAWS.html

You really should know Roger better by now.:D

Good luck with the paper, sounds fun.

James Flower
11-09-2010, 02:55 PM
Argh, cheers anyway guys. Still looking, but apparently if it doesn't crop up it's not a problem. Quite the opposite; the lecturer really likes the idea of the essay being like "a mystery with a twist at the end", revealing at the conclusion that Corman misquoted Canby for his own gain and several academics/critics have been suckered along by it in the process :D

Adam L
11-09-2010, 04:07 PM
Argh, cheers anyway guys. Still looking, but apparently if it doesn't crop up it's not a problem. Quite the opposite; the lecturer really likes the idea of the essay being like "a mystery with a twist at the end", revealing at the conclusion that Corman misquoted Canby for his own gain and several academics/critics have been suckered along by it in the process :D


I wasn't a fan of the film (http://www.regrettablesincerity.com/?p=5996) but the new documentary Machete Maidens Unleashed, about Corman's exploitation films made in the Philippines certainly covers your subject matter and has some direct quotes from Corman where he out and out states your original thesis.

John K
11-10-2010, 12:55 AM
I actually think your original thesis idea is really fertile and interesting ground. I can't imagine what your prof wouldn't like in it, except perhaps too broad a scope? (How long is this paper?) It seems like the current idea is much more limited, both in its scope and in what it would contribute to the body of research... But a fun idea nonetheless!

James Flower
11-10-2010, 05:39 AM
I can't imagine what your prof wouldn't like in it, except perhaps too broad a scope? (How long is this paper?)

You've hit the nail on the head - he said the first idea was too big and ambitious. The essay is 2000 words, so I see his point. It's a little essay we have to do in a week, so I'm not too fussed.

John K
11-11-2010, 01:08 AM
Oh, yeah, definitely save that one for later. It seriously sounds like very fertile ground.

Best of luck!

James Flower
11-11-2010, 12:46 PM
Just in case anyone else happens upon this thread in the hopes of finding the source of the quote, I have good news... I just have. It appeared in the New York Times in 1975, alright... but it wasn't from Vincent Canby. It was from Corman, in a profile of him by Bill Davidson, relating what supposedly a Universal executive said to him upon Jaws' release:


The ultimate compliment was paid to Corman by a Universal Studios executive who must remain nameless on pain of expulsion for treason. "What was 'Jaws'," the executive asked, "but an old Corman monster-from-the-deep flick - plus about $12 million more for production and advertising?"

In any case, Corman is clearly overstating his own importance - The Creature From The Black Lagoon is clearly the more influential film (http://reconstruction.eserver.org/044/briley/jaws2.html).

Wow, this Film Studies stuff is actually kind of fun!

Steve R
11-11-2010, 02:56 PM
The bit that strikes me as funny is that Roger Corman was able to make films
that capitalized on current events and get them into theaters so quickly.

Jaws the book and movie were based on real events that happened in New Jersey around 1918.
They were the first recorded shark attacks in the US. The first on Long Beach Island near a resort hotel's beach and subsequently along an inland stream in Matewan.
The national frenzy to catch the shark was very real indeed.

Almost sixty years later - the movie.