Jaws (1975)

Movie Title: Jaws

Year Released: 1975

Rated: PG

Runtime: 2h 5min

Genre: Adventure, Drama, Thriller

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb

Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Carl Gottlieb, Jeffrey Kramer, Susan Backlinie, Jonathan Filley, Ted Grossman, Chris Rebello, Jay Mello, Lee Fierro, Jeffrey Voorhees, Craig Kingsbury

Review: A Great White Shark terrorizes the beach community of Amity Island. The police chief (Roy Scheider), a marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss), and a salty shark fisherman (Robert Shaw) take to the scary seas aboard the Orca to hunt down the killer shark.

What can you say about Jaws that hasn't already been said? This cinematic masterpiece has kept people out of the water for over 4 decades and it's easy to see why...

From the opening notes of John Williams' Oscar winning score you know that you're about to experience a film like none other. That iconic music has been part of pop culture since 1975 and has been the sound that everyone subconsciously hears once they enter the water, whether it be the ocean or a pool - heck, a bath tub!

The writing is extraordinary as it takes a man versus nature story and elevates it to epic proportions. Based on Peter Benchley's best selling novel, he and Carl Gottlieb craft a screenplay that features solid, flawed characters and injects the story with the perfect mix of humor, horror, and high adventure!

As for the directing... it's masterful! Up-and-coming director Steven Spielberg takes on this fish story and has an uphill battle every single day courtesy of one of the most troubled movie production in history. From shooting on the real ocean to a "temperamental" star, "Bruce" the shark, Spielberg was overwhelmed to say the least trying to put this B-movie together. With pitch perfect cinematography by Bill Bulter, Spielberg composes perfect shot after perfect shot, and later, with Oscar-winning editor Verna Fields they sequence perfect scene after perfect scene that gives Jaws a pace that draws in the audience and never lets them go for the entirety of its running time. And the production design by Joe Alves makes Amity Island live and breath like a real community that is at the mercy of this monstrous, sea-going menace.

And now for one of the greatest cast of actors ever put to film. You have the talents of Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, and Jeffrey Kramer, to play some of the most iconic, copied characters in motion pictures. Roy Scheider as Chief Brody, my favorite character, is a good man that must face his ultimate fears to save his community. He's funny, fearful, and faces adversity no matter the odds. Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper is smart, but lacks humility, as the oceanography that can't quite keep his head above water when dealing with this giant shark. And Robert Shaw's Quint is, in my opinion, the greatest movie character of all-time! He's a crass, bullying sea salt of a man that has a personal vendetta against all sharks. His "Indianapolis Speech" is the greatest monologue in movie history. I can watch it over and over again. It's horrific, haunting, and one of the most engaging scenes ever put on film. I could watch that scene on a loop all day, every day. And let's not forget Murray Hamilton's Mayor Vaughn. The money-hungry bureaucrat is a character we all love to hate. He's so slimy as he tries to ignore this immense issue, but we love him anyway. He's so good that this type of character has been a staple for these type of movies to this very day. You know, the guy that won't close the place down until the unseemly villain swims up, walks up, trots up, sashays up, paddles up, hops up, what-have-you, and proceeds to chomp down on his greedy dude's keister! Classic!

And how about that shark?! The 25 foot Great White Shark is still as terrifying as ever! Just knowing that it's swimming just below the surface of the water has chilled audiences for years. Not seeing it for so long during the film's run-time makes it that much more impactful and frightening when it does surface for an attack or a much earned jump scare. It looks remarkably threatening, menacing, and downright scary. It's the stuff that nightmares are made of and it's a proper villain that has kept viewers on the beach for decades. Some say it looks fake, but to me it looks as good as effective special effect can ever look. And it not really working properly really was a blessing in disguise, making it more impactful than Spielberg and his crew could have even imagined.

I love this movie - it's my favorite movie! I could go on and on about it, but I think I'm going to stop now and go watch it again! Jaws is a true classic! It gave birth to the summer blockbuster and sparked the imaginations of so many filmmakers. And for 2h 5mins it is pure cinematic magic! Make sure you see it before you go swimming.

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: The voice on Quint's marine radio, when Mrs. Brody tries to contact her husband on the "Orca", is that of director Steven Spielberg.


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