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Jaws – 1975
The terrifying motion picture from the terrifying No. 1 best seller.

Steven Spielberg

Peter Benchley (novel)
Peter Benchley (screenplay) and
Carl Gottlieb (screenplay)
Howard Sackler (Indianapolis monologue) uncredited and
John Milius (Indianapolis monologue) uncredited and
Robert Shaw (Indianapolis monologue) uncredited

David Brown producer
Richard D. Zanuck producer

Roy Scheider – Police Chief Martin Brody
Robert Shaw – Quint
Richard Dreyfuss – Matt Hooper
Lorraine Gary – Ellen Brody
Murray Hamilton – Mayor Larry Vaughn
Carl Gottlieb – Ben Meadows
Jeffrey Kramer – Deputy Leonard ‘Lenny’ Hendricks (as Jeffrey C. Kramer)
Susan Backlinie – Christine ‘Chrissie’ Watkins
Jonathan Filley – Tom Cassidy
Chris Rebello – Michael ‘Mike’ Brody
Jay Mello – Sean Brody
Lee Fierro – Mrs. Kintner
Jeffrey Voorhees – Alex M. Kintner
Craig Kingsbury – Ben Gardner
Dr. Robert Nevin – Medical Examiner
Peter Benchley – TV Interviewer
Ted Grossman – Boater
Chris Anastasio – Out of Towner (uncredited)
John Bahr – Beach Guitarist (uncredited)
Allison Caine – Additional Voices (voice) (uncredited)
Robert Carroll – Mr. Polk (uncredited)
Edward Chalmers Jr. – Mr. Denherder (uncredited)
Robert Chambers – Charlie (uncredited)
Denise Cheshire – First Victim/Swimming Girl (uncredited)
Fritzi Jane Courtney – Mrs. Taft (uncredited)
Cyprian R. Dube – Mr. Posner (uncredited)
Paul Goulart – Clarinet Player in Music Store (uncredited)
Duncan Inches – Townsperson (uncredited)
Belle McDonald – Mrs. Posner (uncredited)
Donald Poole – Frank Silva, Harbor Master (uncredited)
Steven Spielberg – Amity Point Lifestation Worker (voice) (uncredited)
Alfred Wilde – Harry Wiseman (uncredited)
Dick Young – Pratt (uncredited)

Review by Bill Slocum
A helluva fish,

Is this the ultimate popcorn thriller or what? It’s maybe the greatest Hitchcock film Hitchcock didn’t direct, mixing elements of “Psycho” and “The Birds” and even a little “Vertigo” when the camera closes on Sheriff Brodie as the Kitner boy explodes in a smorgasbord of red foam and flailing limbs.

It’s not Hitchcock who directed this film, but some other guy who has gone on to do some other stuff. It’s probably true that other stuff has sometimes been deeper (“Close Encounters”), more exciting (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”), more gripping (“Saving Private Ryan”), or more fluid in mixing humor and horror (the first “Jurassic Park”). But “Jaws” was the most perfect movie Steven Spielberg ever made, as perfect and efficient an entertainment vehicle as Bruce was an eating machine.

When this movie first came out, I wanted nothing to do with it. I was all of nine, and liked swimming on the beach. I saw the effect this movie had on kids who didn’t want to swim out with me at the beach anymore. It wasn’t until many years later that I saw the movie, and I was blown away. Not so much by the nasty shark attacks, though there are some shocking moments in this movie. I was shocked rather by the excellent acting, the absorbing plot, the whole story, even the spectacle of life in New England in the 1970s with all the bad bathing suits, ridiculous hair, and beach music like “You’re Having My Baby” and “I Honestly Love You.” Oh, yeah, okay, those shark attacks are pretty special, too.

There’s some very good things in this movie, some great things, and then there’s Robert Shaw, who’s beyond everything. He manages to be both the dramatic heavy and comic relief, the glue behind the male bonding that centers the final third of the film. If Shaw wasn’t so good, the whole finale would seem illogical (Why did he smash that radio? Why is he gunning that motor when the boat is clearly failing?) As his WWII story makes clear, he’s wrestling with major league survivor’s guilt, not to mention a desire to go mano-a-mano with the monster of his nightmares. He almost wills himself into the shark’s maw with nothing but a machete in his hands.

What a master of detail Spielberg is. He’s like John Ford, so bored in on the humanity of every character, big and small, as epic in his scope, protean in his range, and even faster with his pacing. Every time I watch this movie, and I do so a lot, usually in the summer, I pick up on something else I really like. Maybe it’s the vignettes of small-town coastal life, the anatomy lesson of a rickety vessel in distress, Mrs. Brodie’s subtle goading of her husband, or Polly the slope-shouldered old lady and Brodie’s receptionist who thinks a community crisis is when the nine-year-olds are “karating” the picket fences.

John Williams’ score is rousing and brilliant, not just during the shark attacks but the moments in between when he references sea chanties and the like. Killer cinematography, too. Did waters ever look so blue, or skies so brightly azure, as they do during the voyage of the Orca?

Murray Hamilton’s mayor is a wonderful minor character, right up to the moment he suddenly realizes the waters around him are too deep and bloody to negotiate any more. (“My children were in that water, too.”)

But it always comes back to Shaw and Quint. Great lines, great moments, great shots, quiet ones of him standing in the pulpit with his rifle, noisy ones of him laughing with Hooper and Brodie, even goofy ones of him using the chalkboard at Town Hall to make a point. Even Richard Dreyfus’s nasal, cutsey whining becomes effective counterpoint when set against the barnacly bluster of Capt. Quint. Shame Shaw didn’t survive the decade; he and Peter Sellers were the two most missed actors in the 1980s.

This is as much a movie for the summer as “It’s A Wonderful Life” is for Christmas. Even if you live in Nebraska, do yourself a favor one evening, pretend the cornfields outside are the raging Atlantic, and pop “Jaws” into your video machine. Forget Moby Dick. There’s no better fish story on the planet.

Review by Jack Gatanella
Jaws (1975)

The most thrilling film I have ever seen,

Peter Benchley’s vision of his bestseller novel about what lurks beneath is a true masterpiece of cinema horror. Steven Spielberg was definately the best choice for this film (I feel this is the film that got Spielberg known as a director) because the best genre Spielberg is in is the action film. And this film looks at the dangerous world of sharks and how a small fishing village called Amity beach is terroroized by a great white (that is called by Robert Shaw’s quint as a beast, who will swallow you whole).

The first part looks at the village and how it is oblivious to stop it until it has taken 4 lives. Only then do the town sherrif (Rob Schneider is great), a Icthyologist or fish major (Richard Dreyfuss is terrific as this guy), and the hunter (Shaw plays Quint in one of the most memorable roles in history) go to get the animal, which is the second part.

Well constructed bubble gum thriller turns into a masterpiece of cinema that gives new word to “water”. Favorite line: Quint- “You go in the cage, cage go in the water, shark in the water.” Brilliant. A++

Jaws (1975)

Review by Wayne Malin

One of the best thrillers ever made,

A great white shark is attacking people on the waters surrounding Amity Island. Police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) wants to close the beaches but the mayor (Murray Hamilton) is dead set against it. Then the attacks continue and Brody, Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) go after it.

I remember seeing this in a theatre back when I was 13. It was a HUGE hit when it came out. It came out in the summer and the PG rating (with a severe warning saying the shark attacks might be too brutal for younger viewers) had kids pushing to see it. Back then this was pretty gruesome stuff. The attack scenes are bloody and there’s a scene where you see a man get eaten…and it’s not pretty. Back then this scared me silly. It doesn’t scare me that much now but it’s still a great thriller.

Director Steven Spielberg shot it in beautiful Martha’s Vineyard (right here in MA) and perfectly caught the feel of a summer community. Also the film is always moving with overlapping dialogue and the editing zipping the film along (it deserved the editing Oscar it won). Also the acting is great–Scheider is perfectly cast as Brody; Dreyfuss hit it big with his performance here and Shaw is just great in one of his last performances before (sadly) alcoholism killed him. There’s also strong support from Lorraine Gary (as Brody’s wife) and Hamilton as the mayor. A rare case when a lousy book (by Peter Benchley) became a great movie. And there’s John Williams Oscar-winning now-classic score in here.

It’s incredible how Spielberg got such a great movie–everything went wrong!

The weather never agreed with them and they had hellish problems with the mechanical shark (which kept malfunctioning). And Shaw’s drinking held up production also.

Basically this is a top thriller which still holds up almost 30 years later.

A must-see!

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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