The Deer Hunter (directed by Michael Cimino) looms high on Roger Ebert’s list of Best Drama Movies of the 1970s; it’s also been hailed as the greatest movie of all time by lauded filmmaker Miloš Forman and Academy Award nominated actor Mickey Rourke. The film took home 5 Oscars, including Best Picture of 1978.
Jaws 2 (directed by Jeannot Szwarc), on the other hand, released the same year as The Deer Hunter, only ever received mixed reviews. And though it’s considered the best of the sequels to Steven Spielberg’s seminal shark horror, that’s really not saying much; Jaws 3-D and Jaws: The Revenger are laughably terrible. Still, Jaws 2’s biggest saving grace is Roy Scheider, who reprised the role of Chief Martin Brody from 1975.
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So what does one film have to do with the other? Apparently, it was Schieder’s last-minute removal from The Deer Hunter that essentially forced him into making Jaws 2. The story is featured in a recent feature on VHS Revival: RAFT OF THE MEDUSA: THE UNTOLD STORY OF JAWS 2!
Roy Scheider was not a happy man. He’d just left The Deer Hunter due to creative differences; the standard industry term for quitting or being fired. Unusually, in this instance, the differences were very much of the creative kind.
“It’s completely implausible that anyone would go halfway around the world to save a friend,” he declared. Scheider felt trapped. He’d signed a three-picture contract with Universal and, so far, he’d only made one movie for them. The man wanted out. He wanted to tear up the lousy contract and start anew. But what he most definitely did not want was to make another shark movie.
So what kind of strong-arm tactics did the studio employ to get Schieder back on a boat?
Scheider owed them. They’d been two weeks away from the cameras rolling on The Deer Hunter when their star jumped ship, and now they insisted he pay them back. Universal knew a successful sequel was reliant on at least one of their stars returning; and Roy Scheider, due to his recent fit of pique, was currently without a job. Finally, Universal made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, “Ok, Roy. You’re contracted for two more movies, as you know. You let us down on The Deer Hunter. And that’s unacceptable. But you make the Jaws sequel for us and we’ll go our separate ways once the movie is done. Call it a two-for-one.”
You should definitely read the article in its entirety, HERE. And for kicks, check out the trailer and synopsis for Jaws 2 below. Enjoy!
Official Synopsis: Years after the shark attacks that left Amity Island reeling, Sheriff Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) finds new trouble lurking in the waters. Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) wants to rid the beach town of the stain on its reputation. But the disappearance of a pair of divers suggests that all is not right. When Sheriff Brody voices his warnings about holding a sailing competition, everyone thinks it’s post-traumatic stress. That is until a shark fin cuts through the water.
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