With Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Murray Hamilton, Lorraine Gary

Directed by Steven Spielberg
Review by JL and JB

He's back for his noon feeding     The first film to begin the trend of the "summer blockbuster," and in many ways still the best of such films some 30 years on.  It was probable that nobody involved during its making could have predicted the high quality of the end result.  It was a troublesome and tension-filled shoot, due in large part to an uncooperative mechanical shark.  This circumstance forced the young Steven Spielberg to cut back on the amount of shark screen time, which was a blessing in disguise.  By allowing the viewer only fleeting glimpses of the giant Great White beast, the film's tension level was increased, making the shark truly shocking and menacing when it did appear.  But what really makes JAWS a classic are its three leading characters.  Sheriff Matt Brody (Roy Scheider), marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), and grizzled old salt Quint (Robert Shaw) are among the most indelible and beloved characters of '70s cinema.  Perhaps not the best film Spielberg's made, but it's arguably his most perfect one. 5  - JL

     1975 was the year in which Hollywood named ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST Best Picture over JAWS and George Burns Best Supporting Actor without even nominating Robert Shaw. At the time, JAWS was considered to be the fun summer moneymaker, but not an important film like CUCKOO'S NEST, BARRY LYNDON, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, NASHVILLE or AMACORD.  In retrospect, JAWS was not only the best picture of 1975, it was the second-best film of the decade after THE GODFATHER. An exercise in pure film making, the kind of film that makes you remember why movies are unlike any other form of entertainment.  Or at least they used to be.  You will notice that since 1975, Hollywood has been desperately trying to recapture the magic and drawing power of one film from that year, and it's not CUCKOO'S NEST or BARRY LYNDON.  But whereas many modern blockbusters attempt to thrill us with over-hyped special effects and little else except possibly Jessica Alba in sexy outfits, JAWS works its magic with story, dialogue, camera work, editing, three of the best performances of the decade, and a simple two-note musical motif that may be the most memorable movie theme of all time.  Hell, even the poster (shark, water, swimmer... get the idea?) is perfect.

    Now, for homework, I want you all to track down Spielberg's TV movie DUEL (truck stalks driver), and follow it up with John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN (killer stalks girl).  Compare and contrast both to JAWS.  And need I add - avoid any and all JAWS sequels? 5 - JB

Steven Spielberg     The Stuff You Gotta Watch


"You're going to need a bigger boat."

Sequels - None Directed by Spielberg

Jaws II (1978)
Jaws 3D (1983)
Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

Stuff You Gotta Watch
Copyright © 2010 John V. Brennan, John Larrabee