Wednesday, February 06, 2008

New Jaws Trivia/Latest Kwiz Answered

Our latest kwiz has been answered. And if you're just a Jaws fan in general, this may interest you as I haven't seen the following info anywhere online. Here's the deal:

Every time I've watched the movie Jaws, I've thought about the mythical Jerry Christian, the man who catches the fly ball--and whose name is heard most clearly--in the baseball game broadcast that can be heard from a radio on the beach during the 4th of July scene. I finally did some research. No Jerry Christian ever played in the majors, and it's pretty clear that what we're hearing is just some guy in a studio calling an imaginary baseball game with fake players. But how did they come up with the names?

I Googled "Jerry Christian." Not much there. But when I tried "Jerry Christian Jaws," this was the first listing. A wiki page on the TV movie Duel.

Now, if you've watched the documentary on the Jaws DVD (30th anniversary edition), you remember Steven Spielberg talking a lot about Duel (while oddly touching his finger to his lip for much of the interview), his first full-length film from four years before Jaws, about a truck gone mad (or something). He even considered Jaws to be almost like an underwater sequel to Duel, and I think he said that the one-word, four letter title inspired him to call his shark project "Jaws."

So where does Jerry Christian come in? On the above Duel page, he's one of the credited people at the bottom of the page under the heading "Won: Outstanding Achievement in Film Sound Editing."

Interesting. Did Spielberg use names of his old crew members in his new movie? Or was this a coincidence? At this point, I ran for the DVD and found the scene. I sat there with the list of Duel's Emmy winning sound editors in front of me on my computer: "Jerry Christian, James Troutman, Ronald LaVine, Sid Lubow, Richard Raderman, Dale Johnston, Sam Caylor, John Stacy & Jack Kirschner." And I hit play. I felt like Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive, trying to decipher the name of the train station stop: "Almost sounds like "next...stop...." "That's the bell on the Wells Street bridge!" Very exciting stuff.

The first name I figured out was the pitcher, Stacy. I cross-referenced the list: John Stacy! Gold! That nut, Steven, had indeed paid homage to his past sound editors--in a scene whose sound was created by his new sound department. At least that's what it feels like to me. The other names were harder to decipher. When I finally figured out "Vance Fredrick," the batter, after much rewinding, it led to a new mystery, as he wasn't on "the list." That name does come up as someone who worked on the special effects of the movie Heavy Metal from 1981, though, so there's a chance he could be friends with Spielberg. The final name was hard to make out. It kind of sounded like "Troutman." Now, I admit, I may have been influenced by the list. And it kind of sounds like "Troutman will tags..." which leads me to believe it could be some other name, which I'm hearing as "Troutman will." Something like "Don Manwill tags..." But that "s" on the end of tag could be part of the surrounding noise of the scene.

But since we've got Jerry Christian, and a possible Troutman, and they just happen to have worked with Spielberg in the past, I'd say the "Stacy" is "John Stacy," which was the initial kwiz: "What was the pitcher's first name?" (Kara got it right, but it was just a random guess.)

Without further doo-doo, here's my transcription of the baseball game call from the movie:

...field does not hold the water well, and it's very soggy in the outfield. Two balls, one strike the count to Vance Frederick, runners at first and third, here's the pitch from Stacy. Fly ball, deep left field, Jerry Christian goes back, warning track, near the wall, and he takes it for the out. Troutman will tag at third and he comes in, with the tie-breaking run.

Even though it's a fake game, I've never pictured it as happening in Fenway Park. A ball hit "deep to left" is either up on the Monster or over it, or you know it's caught right away. You're not gonna have a left fielder going back for so long. Unless it's a very high fly ball that's gonna hit like 10 feet up on the wall, there just wouldn't be that kind of suspense, and this announcer's acting like it's the classic "will it be a home run or won't it?" which you wouldn't get from a ball that's definitely not gonna make it over a 37-foot high wall. Must be a Red Sox road game. With fake players.

Another mystery, though, comes up when you look at Duel's imdb page. Under "sound department," they list all the names on our list from above except for...Christian, Troutman, and Stacy! (They also list one other guy, who is the only one they don't label as "uncredited.") That's a mystery for you to solve. "I need the rest."

Comments:
Duel is one of my all-time favorite films. Just an amazing piece of work -- Dennis Weaver is the man being terrorized by the truck and its unseen driver -- with stunning camera work.

Now I guess I have to hear the Jaws extras.
 
Cool. I've never heard of anyone who's actually seen it. I gotta rent that one.
 
I so agree with redsock...Duel was and always will be an amazing piece of cinematic genius....suspense from frame one to frame last.
 
I love weiners.

Signed

Dick Lust
 
Good to know, Dick!
 

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