William Lustig, Robert Forster and Company on the Making of ‘Vigilante’

Vigilante movie poster

WRITER’S NOTE: It was a shock to learn of Robert Forster’s death on October 11, 2019 after a battle with brain cancer. He was 78 years old. I remain in awe of his performance in Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown” for which he deservedly earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor as he was able to convey so much while doing so little. Having bumped into him once at New Beverly Cinema, I can also confirm he could not have been a nicer guy.

The following article is about a screening which took place at New Beverly Cinema back in 2010 in which Forster was one of the main guests, and I present here in his memory. RIP Robert.

Filmmaker William Lustig appeared at the Grindhouse Film Festival at New Beverly Cinema to talk about his 1983 “Death Wish” exploitation knock off, “Vigilante.” Joining Lustig for this Q&A were some of the film’s stars: Robert Forster, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson and Frank Pesce. For these four men, the evening was full of laughs and great memories as they discussed the making of this movie which was shot in what they called the “real New York” with blue collar workers and all.

The print of “Vigilante” being shown was from Lustig’s own collection and was over twenty years old. The color was pretty faded which the director apologized for. While they could have shown a digital copy of it instead, he was quick to remark, “The great thing about going to the Grindhouse is the prints, warts and all.”

Forster said he got cast thanks to Pesce and Lustig who remembered him from another movie Lustig made called “Alligator.” The role of factory worker Eddie Marino was originally given to Tony Musante who later turned it down by saying he did not want to work with “those guys.” Forster said the three guys onstage with him did more for his career than anybody, and he also got four or five film roles from Pesce alone as well as a set of golf clubs which he still uses.

Forster also had a very positive overview regarding his career as an actor:

“I never ever worried about the jobs I didn’t do. Every single movie I’ve done has been instructive to me in its own way.”

Pesce said he was also responsible for getting Williamson cast in “Vigilante,” but Williamson saw it a bit differently:

“I don’t remember how I got involved and I don’t give a damn!”

Suffice to say, Williamson was the coolest guy in the theater on this evening.

Pesce also gleefully told one story about the scene between him and Williamson where he was chasing him and they get separated by a chain link fence. Between takes, Pesce asked Lustig, “Should I spit through the fence at Fred?” “Do what you want to do,” Lustig replied.

So Pesce did what his instincts told him to do, the director yelled cut, and afterwards Williamson went up to Lustig and told him point blank, “Cut the spit.” Williamson’s reasoning in saying this to the director was very blunt:

“You don’t do that to a brother!”

Lustig also got Williamson to talk about some of the ad libs he came up with on set like when he was asked what he thought about capital punishment:

“Do you think anyone really misses Ted Bundy?”

Pesce also remarked how the scene with the guy in the wheelchair he pushed over was actually an homage to a similar one with Richard Widmark in “Kiss of Death.”

“Vigilante” may not be great cinema, but watching it with an audience was highly entertaining and we were lucky enough to have Lustig, Forster, Pesce and Williamson on hand to talk about it. Lustig summed it up best:

“There always seems to be a need for retribution movies.”

 

 

Advertisements

Veronica Cartwright Talks About ‘The Right Stuff’ at New Beverly Cinema

The Right Stuff movie poster

Filmmaker Brian McQuery asked New Beverly Cinema to program it, and his wish came true on July 4, 2013 when the revival theater screened “The Right Stuff” in honor of its thirtieth anniversary. Philip Kaufman’s adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s non-fiction book on the Mercury Seven astronaut program and Chuck Yeager was not a box office success when it first came out, but it did find its audience on video, cable and Digital. Seeing it again on the big screen was a real treat, and the audience got an even bigger one when McQuery welcomed actress Veronica Cartwright to the stage.

Cartwright played Betty Grissom, wife to Gus Grissom who was the second American to fly into outer space. Gus’ flight, however, ended on a controversial note after he landed in the ocean and the hatch on his spacecraft suddenly exploded and came off. This caused the spacecraft to sink, and the whole incident left NASA feeling embarrassed. Gus was later found to be not at fault for what happened.

Cartwright had previously worked with Kaufman on his remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” and he told her he had written the part of Betty Grissom with her in mind. Still, Cartwright had to convince to the movie’s producers she was the right person for the role, but there was one thing which threatened to derail her interview with them.

Veronica Cartwright: I had been in a car accident in 1981 where I broke my leg in 35 places. Then this interview came up and I was six months in a cast, and I had nine screws and an 8-inch plate in my ankle. I had just gotten out of my cast and my mother had to drive me to the interview, and I dressed in red, white and blue. I thought this was the appropriate thing to do. As I got up the stairs and I walked, Phil came out. Well I had a bit of a limp at this point so I thought, oh my god if he sees me limping… So, I went, “Hey Phil! What’s happening?” And I danced the whole length of the hallway.

Despite the shape her leg was in, Cartwright still got the part. In fact, she didn’t even tell Kaufman or any of the producers her leg was broken until after shooting wrapped. However, she did have to wear high heels for a scene three months after her leg came out of the cast which was anything but comfortable.

Cartwright’s character is of course based on a real person, but she admitted she never got to meet Betty Grissom before, during or after making the movie. This was due to a big lawsuit going on after Gus died aboard Apollo 1 which caught fire before it took off, and Betty was not in a good state of mind to assist with the production of “The Right Stuff.” As a result, Cartwright had to rely on other ways to get into character, and she talked about how she prepared to play Betty.

VC: We looked at the archival footage and we were all given backgrounds of where the characters were born and how they met their husbands and how they got involved in the whole space program. When you’re doing a real character, I think it’s a little scarier because you want to do that person justice. It’s not coming off of your own imagination. It’s coming off of reality so you have to be careful. I hope I justified her. I always write myself a biography so I know where I came from and stuff like that. Of course, a lot of that was supplied because of her being an actual person. If I know who the person is, just from however I created them, then the lines come like that because I have become that person. I believe you need to have enough background and stuff so that, say something improvisational comes up, you would act according to what your character would do. It’s become ingrained as part of your character. I do a lot of homework before I do something, and I always found that it works for me.

During filming, Cartwright said the actors hung out with the actors while the actresses hung out with the actresses. She remarked how they were “separate entities” as a result which in a weird way was what the movie was about. Everyone in the cast, however, became a close-knit group by the end of filming, and Cartwright pointed out how this showed in the big barbecue scene where their characters are given a huge banquet in Texas courtesy of Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. The scene was actually shot at the Cow Palace in San Francisco with hundreds of extras, and she remembered the shooting of it quite vividly as the meat being barbecued was not as tasty as it looked.

VC: We were in the Cow Palace for five days and those sides of beef weren’t very pretty after five days. We kept hearing, “DO NOT EAT THE MEAT! DO NOT EAT THE MEAT!” Oh my gosh! They would bring in thousands of McDonald’s burgers. Bags of McDonald’s were handed out because they kept saying, “DO NOT EAT THE MEAT!” They would be over there with that blowtorch and putting that glaze all over the beef and it was disgusting. But it was a wonderful experience (filming that scene), it was really great.

In talking about Kaufman, Cartwright described him as a great, lovely person. Since “The Right Stuff” is such a big ensemble piece, everyone had major rehearsals to get the blocking right, but Kaufman did allow for improvisation. Cartwright also admitted the scene in the hotel where Betty gets upset with Gus because they were not invited to the White House after his space mission took a whole day to shoot.

The screenplay for “The Right Stuff” was to be written by William Goldman, but Goldman wanted to leave out the Chuck Yeager story and focus solely on the astronauts. Kaufman disagreed with this decision as he felt Yeager’s story was a very important part of the film because, even though he didn’t go into space, the future of space travel really began with him. Goldman ended up withdrawing from the film and Kaufman wrote the screenplay himself. Cartwright lauded his work.

VC: I thought the script was brilliant because the book is sort of like a train of thought and things that are said but not spoken out loud. What Phil did was he took that book and made all those thoughts reality. I think very rarely can books translate into the movies and the movies be as good as the books were, and in this case, he was right on.

The cinematographer for “The Right Stuff” was Caleb Deschanel who received an Oscar nomination for his work. He was also nominated for his work on the films “The Natural,” “Fly Away Home,” “The Patriot” and “The Passion of the Christ.” Of course, these days he is known as the father of Emily and Zooey Deschanel who have become successful actresses in their own right.

VC: He’s very meticulous. The lighting was amazing. He didn’t have standard lights. Everything had these big shrouds of silks over the top of them. The whole Cow Palace was lit and it would be on gimbles where they could just move the lighting, but it took hours to set up. It was pretty intense. And it’s so funny to see Zooey now because she was three-years old during the making of the movie, and Emily had just been born. Thirty years is a long time!

Actually, the most fascinating story Cartwright told that evening involved how Kaufman and his crew filmed the flying sequences. Until “Top Gun” came along, “The Right Stuff” had some of the best and most convincing aerial footage of any movie I had ever seen. So it was a big surprise when Cartwright revealed to us what kinds of planes and special effects were used to create those moments.

VC: When you see the planes going up and down, those were all Japanese models and they (the filmmakers) stood on the top of a very tall building and chucked them off (laughs). That was the CGI! They just sort of painted them and Phil said “oh my God it was incredible! We just go up on the top of the building and throw the plane off and see what happens!” So when you’re watching the movie tonight, you can figure out that it’s a little Japanese air model. It was hysterical!

Veronica Cartwright ended her Q&A with Brian McQuery by saying “The Right Stuff” was a wonderful movie and that she loved the sense of drama and comedy and how it was a wonderful blend of the two. Thirty years after its release, we couldn’t have agreed more. “The Right Stuff” remains one of the greatest movies to come out of the 1980s, and it has lost none of its power to excite and entertain those who watch it. Some movies don’t age well, but this one has.

No, I Haven’t Seen It Until Now: ‘Cujo’

Cujo movie poster

It took Cinematic Void putting together a Stephen King film festival at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood to give me a reason to finally check out the cinematic adaptation of “Cujo.” It was a movie I have heard a lot about, and I remember the book’s original artwork with those growling teeth which indicated this particular dog was looking for more than puppy chow and snausages. Moreover, the word Cujo has long since been burned into my consciousness, and it seems to exist as a description of a dog who has gone mad and cannot be mistaken for man’s best friend. In “Fletch,” it made perfect sense when Chevy Chase said “Cujo” as he wandered through a seemingly abandoned house in Utah. Considering he was attacked by a Doberman Pinscher earlier in the film, his fear of being attacked again was completely understandable.

“Cujo” was released in 1983 during a decade when adaptations of King’s work were plentiful and varied in quality. While some were exceptional (“Stand by Me,” “The Shining,” and “The Dead Zone”), others like “Maximum Overdrive” just didn’t work. “Cujo,” however, proves to be an above average adaptation of his work as well as one of the more unusual. While many of his books deal with the supernatural, this one deals more with the horrors of real life instead of just monsters.

I’m sure you all know the story to “Cujo” by now. In case you don’t, it involves a beautiful St. Bernard who, at the movie’s start, chases a rabbit through the woods. In the process, he gets his head stuck in a cave filled with bats, one of which bites him on the nose. From there, he goes from being a lovable household pet to an infinitely vicious one as he attacks any and every human being in his sight.

From the outside, “Cujo” seems to have a very straightforward plot which indicates to the viewer it will be one of those animal attack movies we have seen time and time again. But what really surprised me most is how it focused more on the human element to where I realized the dog was really a supporting character more than anything else.

You have Vic and Donna Trenton (Daniel Hugh Kelly and Dee Wallace), a married couple and the proud parents of a highly imaginative boy named Tad (Danny Pintauro). But while they appear to be leading the perfect life in Castle Rock, Maine, there are cracks beneath the surface which will inevitably become visible to everyone. Vic is increasingly concerned with economic security, something even more understandable these days. Donna is having an affair with Steve Kemp (Christopher Stone), her ex-boyfriend from high school, as she is terrified of being trapped in a small town for the rest of her life. And Tad, he is still at an age where it’s far too easy to believe monsters are hiding in the closet and waiting to jump out at him. Seriously, seeing Tad race to his bed after turning off the light and hiding under the covers brings back a lot of memories.

Taking the fears of each character into account, it serves as a reminder of how brilliant King is at examining not just horrors of the unknown, but also the ones we are forced to experience in the real world. This makes “Cujo” especially effective as the obstacles these characters are forced to deal with feel almost as scary as the thought of this dog tearing their flesh apart.

“Cujo” was directed by Lewis Teague who also helmed the Stephen King anthology film “Cat’s Eye” as well as the cult classic “Alligator” and “The Jewel of the Nile.” Teague was lucky he got to make “Cujo” back in the 80’s, a decade where filmmakers had the opportunity to build up to a furious climax instead of being forced to rush straight to one. These days, studio executives would have begged, if not ordered, him to rush right into the sequences where the dog attacks the hapless humans and increase the blood and gore horror fans are expecting. Instead, Teague got to take his precious time introducing us to characters who are not mere stereotypes and whose struggles will soon pale in comparison to the dog whose appearance becomes increasingly dirty and slimy.

This movie’s major set piece comes when Donna and Tad become trapped in a Ford Pinto as Cujo thrashes away at it, trying to get inside. From there, “Cujo” becomes a major exercise in sheer intensity as we watch Donna do what she can to save herself and her son before the dog makes chop suey out of them both. But if the dog doesn’t get to them, the sweltering summer heat may do them in instead. Suffice to say, they cannot stay in the car forever.

It’s interesting King chose a St. Bernard as the type of dog instead of another like a Doberman Pinscher. Of course, casting a Doberman might have seemed like typecasting as they have always been the villains of dogs. St. Bernard dogs seem more like comic relief, and this was made clear back in the 1990’s with those “Beethoven” movies starring Charles Grodin. Therefore, choosing a St. Bernard as a dog is an inspired choice as it shows how easily a dog, any dog, can turn deadly after being bitten by a bat. When we first see Cujo, he is a beautifully groomed dog you just want to hug. But he soon becomes a dog in desperate need of a shower as he looks disgustingly slimy and has what looks like an abundance of snot sliding off his face. Eventually he becomes an evil force to be reckoned with, and it’s easy to understand how no one could have prepared for him.

But while this dog looks to be the main star of “Cujo,” he is not. The real star is instead Dee Wallace who, just as she did in “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial,” gives us a mother who cannot be mistaken for the average movie mother. I love talking about when actors inhabit roles more than play them, and it is certainly the case with Wallace here as she gives a performance best described as emotionally blistering. She makes us feel Donna Trenton’s frantic struggles as well as her mental and physical exhaustion in dealing with a crumbling marriage, an affair, her son and, of course, the dog. Also, she makes us feel every single bead of sweat coming off of her body as she and Tad are trapped not just in the car, but in the sweltering summer heat as well.

There also moments where Donna loses her patience with Tad, and this makes Wallace’s performance feel all the more real. Just as “Cujo” was being released, some associated with its production were keen to cut a scene where Donna snaps at her son as she grows tired of his crying out for daddy. This, however, would have been mistake as all parents lose their patience with their children. Seriously, just as my mom. I’m sure she has tons of stories she would love to share with you.

While I’m at it, let’s not leave out Danny Pintauro whose performance as Tad feels unbearably real at times. Seeing him weep and panic when the dog tries to get at him and his mother makes an already intense motion picture even more intense.

Teague and his collaborators which include composer Charles Bernstein, director of photography Jan De Bont, and editor Neil Travis clearly had more on their mind than giving us the average horror film with “Cujo.” While there is a conventional feel to much of what we see here, the filmmakers were more invested in the human element than the animal one. Lord only knows how this movie would look if it were made today, and I’m stunned it has not been remade yet. As this cinematic adaptation shows, horror movies can’t thrive unless we are emotionally invested in the characters to where they are not just stock or filler. This film may not be a masterpiece, but it proved to be far more effective than I ever could have expected it to be.

* * * ½ out of * * * *

Jeremy Licht Reflects on the Making of ‘Twilight Zone: The Movie’

Twilight Zone Movie Jeremy Licht

Grauman’s Chinese in Hollywood had a special screening of “Twilight Zone: The Movie” in honor of its 30th anniversary, and the screening was put together by Mad Monster. Before fans got to watch the movie in its pristine digital presentation, there was a Q&A with one of the movie’s stars, Jeremy Licht. Perhaps best known for his work as a child actor on television shows like “The Hogan Family,” Licht was very happy to share his memories of making this film.

Twilight Zone The Movie poster

Licht appears in the movie’s third segment, “It’s a Good Life,” in which he plays Anthony, a young boy who is suddenly befriended by schoolteacher Helen Foley (Kathleen Quinlan). But when Anthony takes Helen home to meet his “family,” she ends up meeting a group of people who live in sheer horror of Anthony as he lives to terrify them if he suspects they disapprove of him.

The movie is the theatrical version of Rod Serling’s classic television series “The Twilight Zone,” and it is essentially an anthology of four different films by four directors. Licht described the audition process for it as being “really interesting” and that he was not hired until after the filmmakers started shooting the first couple of segments.

“I auditioned a couple of times and knew it was starting to get close, and it was really exciting,” Licht said of the process. “On the second audition that I had, Joe Dante was in there (who directed “It’s a Good Life”). It wasn’t often that I got star struck, but I was kind of in awe of him because of what he had done. He had made ‘Piranha’ which I’m sure you all know more than I do.”

Of course, it’s impossible not to talk about “Twilight Zone: The Movie” without mentioning the tragic accident which still casts a heavy shadow over it. During the filming of the first segment, “Time Out” directed by John Landis, a helicopter crashed and killed actor Vic Morrow and two child actors, Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen. Licht got the news about the accident a week after his second audition.

“I figured that was it. That was the end of it and they were going to shelve the film,” Licht said. “About six months later, I ended up getting a call from my agent that they were actually back in production and that they had wrapped up that segment (“Time Out”), and to come back and for a third audition. I went back in, and at this point I knew it (the material) back and forth, and I walked in and there was Steven Spielberg. He had just come off of ‘E.T.’ and it was really an amazing audition. By the time I had gotten home from that audition there was an offer. It was extremely exciting time for me and for my family and we accepted the offer, and we wound up on the Warner Brothers soundstage in Burbank within a week and we spent three months in principal photography.”

“It’s a Good Life” was a remake of the classic “Twilight Zone” episode of the same name, but Licht said he never watched it until after filming was complete. It also turns out Bill Mumy, who played Anthony in the original episode, makes a cameo appearance as a restaurant patron who intervenes when his friend starts pushing Licht’s character around.

But unlike the original television episode, Dante ended up taking “It’s a Good Life” in a different direction as it was more cartoony. Licht went on to describe Dante as a very “hands-on” director as well as a “big kid,” and that this movie was “his playground.”

“Working with a director like him truly was a treat,” Licht said of Dante. “He was really into letting the actors find what they were looking for. Obviously it was over the top; he was looking for that. He was looking for that cartoonish, extremely uncomfortable feel which I think we certainly accomplished.”

In terms of what was the most rewarding thing about doing “Twilight Zone: The Movie,” Licht replied it was being part of a film which has a huge following. The television series was always unpredictable in how you never knew what direction it would take from episode to episode, and it made fans wonder what the movie was going to be like. Having acted mostly on television and in several “movies of the week,” Licht also came to discover how fortunate he was to play Anthony in this film.

“It’s very rare as a kid, let alone at 13, to be asked to lead or be one of the principals in a film or play a character where nothing is what you think it is,” Licht said. “It’s rare to have that kind of a script, to have something like that come to you, let alone be asked by Joe Dante or Steven Spielberg to be in it. I was pretty honored and pretty humbled, and I am to this day really.”

As for the question Licht gets asked the most about “Twilight Zone: The Movie,” he said it was if the cast really had to eat those peanut butter covered hamburgers.

“I read the script and I thought, ‘Wow, that is really vile! I can’t imagine doing that,’” Licht said of this unusual meal. “The day that we shot it, they actually brought in McDonald’s hamburgers and basically we tried it. First of all, if you’re peanut butter person, it’s really not bad. The problem is, good luck saying your lines with a mouthful of peanut butter!”

Licht retired from acting in the 1990’s although he did appear in a short film in 2009 called “The Closer.” These days, he has his own financial planning company called JL Capital Management which has turned out to be very successful. For a former child actor, he has done very well for himself, and he has not allowed himself to be swallowed whole by the kind of vices which have destroyed so many lives. When asked why some child actors easily transition to an adult career while others don’t, Licht sounded very level-headed in his explanation.

“When I was doing it, there were paparazzi but nothing like things are now where every moment is recorded and every stumble that you take is magnified,” Licht said. “I’ve seen it all. I’ve had friends that have had very successful careers, and sadly I’ve had friends that have fallen. I grew up with good people around me and I still do surround myself with good people. My folks are important and my family is really important. I got into the business very young, but not necessarily at the urging of my family. I wasn’t supporting my family. It (acting) was a hobby that sort of took off. My parents said to me the whole time, ‘If you stop liking this or you become unpleasant to be around, you’re out. You’re gone because this is not what that’s for.’”

“I think a degree of it is luck, I think a degree of it is also upbringing and family, but I think a lot of it is luck,” Licht continued. “It’s like any of your lives growing up, but under a big microscope. I’m sure that we’ve all had times in our life, if you can imagine if cameras were on you, when you stumble the hardest, and how can you recover from that? You can recover privately, but when everybody’s watching you and judging you it’s a tough deal.”

We keep hearing stories day after day of child actors going bad, but we never hear enough about the ones who don’t. Licht is one of those former child actors who has done very well for themselves, and it would be great to hear more about people like him instead of getting all these random updates on others who don’t have the same support.

Mad Monster Celebrates 30th Anniversary of ‘Jaws 3-D’ with Guests

Jaws 3D Mad Monster poster

Okay, “Jaws 3-D” is not a great movie (I’m being generous here), but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see it on the big screen where it was being shown in 3D. I had seen it on television so many times and kept wondering if the experience of watching it with the extra dimension would make it more exciting. Mad Monster put together the 30th anniversary screening for this much-maligned sequel together at TCL Chinese Theatres in Hollywood back in 2013, and they presented fans with a beautiful DCP 3D print to watch. I have a hard time believing the 3D effects looked as good in 1983 as they did that evening.

In addition, Mad Monster also brought along guests who were involved in the making of “Jaws 3-D:” director Joe Alves, screenwriter Carl Gottlieb and producer Rupert Hitzig. All three were eager to talk about the making of this sequel, but they never did discuss how it was received when it was released 30 years ago.

The original plan for the third “Jaws” movie was to make it into a spoof to be called “Jaws 3, People 0.” Plans for this, however, fell through due to conflicts with Universal Studios, and this led to David Brown and Richard Zanuck resigning from the studio. Alves remarked how the pre-production on “Jaws 3-D” showed how smart Hollywood executives are. Of course, he said this with a bit of sarcasm.

“They really didn’t want to make ‘Jaws,’ and we fought to get that made. They tried to stop it four times,” Alves said of the executives. “’Jaws 2,’ after they fired the first director, they closed it down and Verna Fields (who won the Best Editing Oscar for “Jaws”) and I had to convince Ned Tanen (then President of Universal Studios) that we should go ahead and make it. And then here comes the third one, and they think so much of their biggest movie that they title it ‘Jaws 3, People 0’ which means they are making fun of their most successful film.”

Fields, who later became Vice President of Universal Studios, contacted Alves and told him, since Brown and Zanuck left, the rights to “Jaws” were sold to Alan Landsburg, a television producer best known for “That’s Incredible,” and he was making a mess of everything. Fields asked Alves to talk with Landsburg, which he did, and Landsburg offered him the chance to produce the sequel. But having worked 100 days as a Second Unit Director on “Jaws 2,” Alves was far more interested in directing it. But the conversation became very interesting when Landsburg told Alves of what his plans were for this sequel.

“I said you have to think about making a big shark,” Alves told Landsburg. “And he said, ‘oh no, no, no, no, no. I just want to use real sharks from what I have from ‘That’s Incredible’ and mechanical people.’ So that’s how great the thinking was when this production started.”

Alves then went to visit various aquatic parks for research, and he came across an underwater exhibit which was in 3D. He thought it was great and loved the depth of the technology being used. After exiting the exhibit, he started to think about the possibilities of filming “Jaws 3” in 3D.

“With ‘Jaws 3-D,’ you accomplish two things,” Alves said. “You take the onus off the third because there were very few thirds back then; I think ‘Rocky III’ was the only one at the time. And then you introduce a fresh look at it (the franchise). I went home and did a shark drawing in 3D and I took it to Landsburg and to Sid Sheinberg, and he looked at it and said, ‘Can I have this?’ I said ‘Sid, you’re President. You can have whatever you want! I just got to show it to Lew Wasserman first.’ I got the directing job and that’s how it started.”

Gottlieb had written the screenplays for the previous two “Jaws” movies, but he originally was not brought on board to write the third. The original script was credited to the late, great Richard Matheson whom Gottlieb said he great respect for, but at the same time he found his script to be “problematic” at best. As a result, the studio called him to see if he could help them out once again.

“When Joe (Alves) and Rupert came on, they all agreed on me,” Gottlieb said. “I had done the other two under difficult circumstances, and they said, ‘Can you do it again?’ So off I went to Florida and looked at Sea world, surveyed the situation and thought, yes I can do the script.”

Once everything was ready to go, the cast and crew proceeded to Orlando, Florida to film “Jaws 3-D,” and Gottlieb said the only food down there was “deep fried, refried or just fried.” Making the movie proved to be challenging not only because they were filming in 3D, but also due to the fact they were dealing with water and a big shark. Alves described the process of working with 3D to the audience.

“We worked with one film and not two cameras,” Alves said. “You take and split 35mm film one way that you have a proportion that is really difficult to compose. A shark is very difficult to get out into the audience because it has a dorsal fin. If you cut the dorsal fin off, you could float it right into the audience. You could take a snake through it, but as soon as something hits that frame it jumps back. So, the shark could come out as far as the dorsal fin and that was it.”

Hitzig went into further detail about the complexities of working with 3D back in 1983.

“This film was so different because we were so awed by the concept of 3D, but you only see in 3D those frames that work; you don’t see the ones that don’t work,” Hitzig said. “Now there is a point of convergence, and the two lenses of the camera have to be put into convergence. So if I’m focusing on you and you’re in vertical in the back, then I’m focused on you but you’re gonna be two images in the back. Joe had to watch out that there were no verticals in the back because they were going to be too strong. So we go to the motel room in Orlando and we would be watching the movie and going ‘that shot is beautiful’ and ‘oh no!’ Our eyes would go cross eyed or walleyed and we ducked to the floor. Nobody was looking at the performances. So, after the third week, I put a sign in the motel room that said ‘just when you thought it was safe to open your eyes – Jaws 3-D!’”

Now its 30 years later, and 3D has come back to life thanks to new technologies which have made it far more effective than ever before. Then again, not everyone is a big fan of 3D and many are tiring of seeing every other movie with the extra dimension. Gottlieb shared with us his thoughts on 3D.

“I haven’t seen it (‘Jaws 3-D’) in 30 years and I’m looking forward to it,” Gottlieb said. “Every 3D movie is an experience, and sometimes I like to see them twice; once in 3D to have the stuff whizzing by, and a second time flat so that I can enjoy the story and the performances and everything else without the distractions of shooting for effects.”

Before the screening of “Jaws 3-D” began, Hitzig wanted to remind the audience of something.

“Remember that its 30 years ago,” Hitzig said. “We didn’t have CGI, we didn’t have video editing and everything was cut on film which was a problem with 3D. I remember in the very beginning, Sid Sheinberg said, ‘If you can get the shark to come through the screen and land in the audience’s lap, we’ll all be rich. So try and get that shark (which was so huge) through that little screen.’ Instead of CGI, we had to composite on videotape and then go back to 3D which was almost an impossible technical stunt. It’s not an apology, it’s just a realization of what you’re going to see.”

Alves also remarked on a conversation he once had with film critic Gene Shalit.

“I had talked to him on ‘Jaws 2,’ and he wanted to know what we were doing on the third one,” Alves said of Shalit. “I was showing him the 3D stuff and was saying, ‘If it was a snake I could get it into the audience.’ A couple of years later I happened to be working on another movie and I saw Gene and he yelled over, ‘It should have been a snake!’”

Gottlieb left us with one last technology note.

“This script was typed on a typewriter. Fingers on keys, an IBM electric, clickety-clack, clickety-clack.”

Well, “Jaws 3-D” will never go down as one of the finest motion pictures ever made, but watching it reminded us of how much better it is than “Jaws: The Revenge.” Plus, seeing it in 3D made the experience more fun than without it, and this is saying a lot because these days 3D isn’t worth the extra money. The film may not have been a critical success, but it still did turn a profit at the box office and people have not forgotten about it. Big thanks to Joe Alves, Carl Gottlieb and Rupert Hitzig for taking the time to talk about their experience making “Jaws 3-D.”