Winner of three Oscars and the highest-grossing film of its time, Jaws was a phenomenon, and this is the only book on how twenty-six-year-old Steven Spielberg transformed Peter Benchley's number-one bestselling novel into the classic film it became.
Hired by Spielberg as a screenwriter to work with him on the set while the movie was being made, Carl Gottlieb, an actor and writer, was there throughout the production that starred Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss. After filming was over, with Spielberg's cooperation, Gottlieb chronicled the extraordinary yearlong adventure in The Jaws Log, which was first published in 1975 and has sold more than two million copies. This expanded edition includes a photo section, an introduction by Benchley, and an afterword by Gottlieb that gives updates about the people and events involved in the film, ultimately providing a singular portrait of a famous movie and inspired moviemaking.
In case you may read the review that says this book is “overhyped” and not what they expected, this is a memoir told from the perspective of a very prolific and successful screenwriter named Carl Gottlieb (who is also a very active member of the WGA). He co-wrote Jaws and this book is his own personal account of his experiences on a very infamous production. This book is not a Spielberg documentary nor is it a “how to make a successful film” book. It’s a fascinating first-person account of a writer navigating the wild world of a complex and problematic film shoot in 1974 that miraculously became one of the most successful films of all time. It is well worth a read and will not disappoint provided you understand this is a personal memoir, not a substitute for film school.
Fun but way overhyped
If you are a fan of the film (as most humans are), you will enjoy this light romp through its making. I had, as it turns out, too high expectations: based on the excessive hype about the book, I was expecting pages and pages of behind the scenes details and specific technical revelations, etc, that would leave me amazed and maybe even inspired. What I got was a general overview of how the production went from someone who was there. With the exception of an excellently detailed account of how Quint's Indianapolis speech came about -- which was covered in the footnotes, not the book itself -- the book suffers from a disappointing lack of depth and richness.