The terrifying motion picture from the terrifying No. 1 best seller.
Year of Release: 1975
Running Time: 124 minutes (2:04)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Roy Scheider ... Brody
Robert Shaw ... Quint
Richard Dreyfuss ... Hooper
Lorraine Gary ... Ellen Brody
Murray Hamilton ... Vaughn
Carl Gottlieb ... Meadows
Jeffrey Kramer ... Hendricks
Susan Backlinie ... Chrissie
Jonathan Filley ... Cassidy
Ted Grossman ... Estuary Victim
Chris Rebello ... Michael Brody
Jay Mello ... Sean Brody
Peter Benchley ... Interviewer
Jaws is one of the greatest box office attractions in the history of motion pictures. Director Steve Spielberg has brought Peter Benchley's best-selling novel to the screen with stunning power and unbearable suspense. Roy Scheider as Amity's Police Chief Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as a young ichthyologist, and Robert Shaw as Quint, the colorful shark fisherman with a touch of the manic, are perfectly cast as the three men who become allied in a life-and-death hunt to destroy a killer embodying nearly three tons of instant white death.
Jaws has a great deal to teach us. To name a few; the fact that greed almost invariably backfires, the smarter you are the less people are inclined to listen to what you have to say and of course, overconfidence will very likely to get you eaten. But the point I'd like to discuss is this; no matter how big an asshole you are, if you know what you're doing, it doesn't matter if people like you. And in many cases, will inexplicably cause people to like you. A brief case study on Robert Shaw's character from the movie. You'd have to run a floor buffer over Quint for a solid week to upgrade him to rough around the edges. He's foul mouthed, drinks too much, sings off key, treats his flunkies like something he scraped off the hull of his ship, an interrupts town council meetings like he's Captain Ahab. But who does the town come to when they need help? That's right. The asshole. Know why? The asshole gets RESULTS. You may not like him, but you don't doubt his ability for a moment. Nice guys hate "the asshole." Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Hugh Laurie, nice guys hate em all. The ladies however, love em all. Who knows why women love assholes, but it's clear that they do. And they're everything you can never be, sissy boy. Sure, you'll find some nice girl who tells you she has no interest in this type of guy. She's lying, she just can't GET that kind of guy, settled for you, and now doesn't want to make your grape nuts shrivel up anymore than they already have. Quint is a classic cinematic lovable asshole. There are many like him, but ultimately, he's one of a kind. Now, a few rules about maintaining the fine line between being a lovable asshole, and a douche. Rule #1, assholes are funny. Douches want to be funny, but aren't. Rule #2, the asshole may not always be physically intimidating, but their mental superiority means they will always have the final say. The douche will be outsmarted and ultimately humiliated, usually in that order but not necessarily. And rule #3, the asshole has social acceptance without seeking it, the douche lacks it, but covets it greatly. While the asshole is not the best lifestyle for everyone, douche is the best lifestyle for no one. Please don't be a douche.
Highly unnecessary, but for the 3 people that have not seen Jaws and have interest in doing so, a plot summary. Besides, I need the filler content.
Jaws begins with a hippie pot party on a beach full of rich kids going over their lists of things never to do in a horror movie, checking each item off one by one, when a pair of them decide to go swimming after drinking so much alcohol that even Dean Martin wouldn't be able to stand up under his own power. The male of the pair only gets as far as the beach before he's fallen an can't get up, while the female makes it out into the water a ways an tries to coax the male out with the promise of titties. But he's down for the night an within moments something big an pointy has ahold of the girl an it's whipping her hair back an forth like Willow Smith, only with a lot more whiplash an bodily dismemberment. That and the sounds she's making while it's happening are a lot less painful. Ultimately she's dragged down to Davey Jones' Locker an what's left of her washes up on the beach for Roy Scheider to find the next morning. Brody's (Roy Scheider) a master of the ordinary when it comes to visual observation an he runs down to the local stationery store to grab some Crayolas so his flunkie of a deputy can draw some "beach closed" signs. Only the mayor of the island community is a greedy douche an he's not about to let a teenager in a Hefty bag ruin his summer vacation, so he overrules Brody an tells em to go home an think about what he's done. The next morning Brody's hangin' out on the beach deciding whether he aughta go take a beer bottle shiv to the mayor or not, when another kid goes scuba diving down Jaws' throat. Brody runs up an down the beach like white trash children in the frozen food section at Wal Mart until everyone gets out of the water, cause he forgot he was hydrophobic before he took this gig. All the great white eye sores (this movie is seriously devoid of black, Asian, Indian, Mexican or any other logical nationality you can imagine) get out of the water after trampling a few elderly people that had the misfortune to trip an fall when there was a mob of sheep chasing behind them. All but one, of course.
So with two victims in as many days, the mayor starts to think that maybe there's almost cause for concern, he calls a town council meeting an invites as many insensitive people as he can find to come an make light of the situation. The mother of the Jaws chow has posted a bounty on the sea dingo that ate her baby an all the great white hunters are out in force, an the mayor has sent away for an oceanographer to come to town an tell him some more things he doesn't wanna hear. After a couple minutes of inane babble the grizzled, salty sea captain grabs everyone's attention in the most obnoxious yet amusing manner possible an he makes his pitch to the council. He'll get their shark, but he don't come cheap. When he finishes his pitch he heads back to his ship to catch up on all the browbeating of his crew he's been missing out on, an the meeting adjourns. That evening, two chumps head out to their dock an affix some vittles to an over sized hook, tie it to the dock, an sit down to talk about their feelings until something happens. Eventually the "something" that happens is Jaws grabs ahold of the vittles an jerks the far end of the dock clean off an one of the chumps is suddenly Surfin' USA. He gets back to shore just before Jaws can make him into half the man he once was an after he's finished emptying his bowels they realize they're in over their heads (presumably "in" refers to their asses, an they're definitely head deep in em) an call it a night. Then Richard Dreyfuss shows up in the midst of the entire island's population heading out to sea to find out what flavor of wood is Jaws' favorite an informs Brody that they're all pretty well boned cause this fish is bigger than Donald Trump's ego an hungrier than Kirstie Alley since she got on Slim Fast. So the dopes haul in the first thing they're able to get a hook into an declare victory. Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) isn't convinced, but nobody wants to hear it, especially not the dickbag mayor, so he an Brody slice open the catch of the day an not surprisingly, it's devoid of any prepubescence.
After Jaws snacks on one more morsel an scares the bejezus out of Brody's eldest son, Brody an Hooper are finally able to convince the mayor that all this kid cuisine is bad for business an it might be a good idea to get that surly fellow that already warned you this was gonna happen, to kill the shark. So they hire Quint, an since they'll work for free an not cut into his payday, he decides to take Brody an Hooper with him so he'll have somebody around to browbeat an generally ridicule to tears. So Quint an company head out to sea an before too long Quint's line starts making a run for the border, only he entrusts the pole to his bumbling crew members for a moment an within the span of a few seconds they break the line. Quint chews em out until they develop some serious sad face, then he makes Brody chum the water an Jaws starts playin' peek a boo with Brody until he soils himself. Then Brody's nagging wife calls over the CB an Quint tells her to shut her whore mouth when men are talking an transfers her to voice mail. It is at this point that Jaws finally makes a full length appearance an Quint an company see just what they're up against. Quint takes out the spear gun an pops Moby Prick with a harpoon attached to a barrel so they can keep an eye on em, only the big guy's way too much fish for that an he goes under to regroup. After a few hours and a severe sun burn, Quint an crew call break an get hammered enough to stop pretending like they all hate each other an have a nice male bonding moment complete with sing along. But their singing is such an affront to Jaws' sensibilities that he has to start busting up their boat to get em to stop. Breaking up Quint's drinking time is about as good an idea as New Coke, an Quint is plenty pissed. He heads up topside an sticks Jaws a few more times with the spear gun until he's dragging around so many kegs that Eliot Ness an the Untouchables show up an try to arrest em. But the big guy shakes it off an keeps comin' back for more like a fat guy at the buffet tables until Quint an company decide to just tow the bastard in to shore an beach his ass. Unfortunately the engine, which has been getting pretty soggy by this point gives out an by now Big Nasty's gone almost a whole day without eating someone an he's gonna have his fix one way or another. This is where we end the plot description so as to not spoil the movie's climax for the 3 poor saps that've never seen it.
Jaws is a rare breed. Jaws is 3 things that seldom happen simultaneously. Horror. Blockbuster. Successful. Countless instances have there been 2 of those 3 things together, but not often are all 3. Jaws is a great example of why we cannot completely dismiss the mainstream movie makers. Mostly, but not completely. Interestingly enough, the great special effects should have been even better, Steve Spielberg was never able to talk to the over-sized bath toy just the way it wanted to be spoken to so that it'd work as planned. Pretty impressive. The movie turned out this good, but there were actually several things they wanted to do with the shark that just never worked out. For 1975, the shark is amazing. That said, I'll say the same thing I mentioned in the review of Piranha, it was impossible in those days to make a fish model that wasn't stiff. The good news is, the impressiveness of this huge construction moving through the water really won't make most people stop an wonder why the tail isn't moving back an forth to propel it. It's really quite a sight the first time you watch the movie, or for that matter, the 5th. No more or less critical was the casting of the 3 lead roles. If these guys didn't play off of each other convincingly, no special effects could make the movie great. If you research (an by research I mean read the IMDB.com trivia page) how many different actors were originally wanted or considered for these 3 roles, it boggles the mind to think how it may have come out with different actors in the roles. Swapping someone with Roy Scheider would probably have been the least damaging of the 3, but I can't see it coming out as well as it did with any of these guys missing. Robert Shaw is without a doubt, in my opinion, the guy that makes the movie great. I'd put his portrayal of the character of Quint up against anyone in any other role in genre history. He is unequivocally believable. Richard Dreyfuss is also great as the intellectual, yet capable oceanographer that seems like he too may not have both oars in the water, if still far more sane than Quint. Good effects. Good actors, interesting characters, shooting locations, musical score (perhaps no other musical score is so simple, yet effective, and unquestionably recognizable, as the shark's theme), it's got it all together.
Overall, Jaws stands up well regardless of how much time passes since it's original release. If you're the type to actually be scared by a movie, Jaws is one that can accomplish that as well as any other. It's too deeply rooted in reality to not be effective in that manner. Which is not to say that sharks attack boats or hop aboard too often, but the majority of the plot is completely plausible. The story told by Robert Shaw during the movie about the USS Indianapolis for instance, is very accurately relayed. I believe the total number of men that entered the water when the vessel was sunk was slightly over exaggerated in the movie, but not by much. The number that he claimed had survived was accurate. How it happened was accurate, how the survivors were located was accurate, the mission it had been on prior to the sinking was accurate. Details, while not critical, add something to a movie's credibility that you cannot attain any other way. Particularly historical events that can enhance the mood or atmosphere. Little things like that make movies that might otherwise only register as good, exceptional. It also speaks highly of the writers for not only looking for things like this to include, but for keeping their facts accurate. I cannot remember if that story was in Peter Benchley's novel or not, wouldn't surprise me, the book was very good as well. Benchley also has a little cameo, which was cute. And according to the MPAA a good choice to watch with the entire family. At the time, the MPAA had no PG-13 rating. Was either gonna be PG or R. How this movie got a PG is beyond me, I've got to believe with as much blood and violence the movie has, the MPAA was taking bribes. Dead serious. If you compare the blood in this movie to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Jaws is by far the bloodier of the two. As far as violence, Saw probably edges is very slightly. No way would this movie get a PG rating these days, I still cannot believe they gave it a PG. PG-13 would have suited it well, but without it, you've got to give this movie an R rating. In the 70s though it seems, there are more than a few movies that today would be a PG-13, but without that as an option, they went with the PG rating. Violence, bodily dismemberment, enough blood to make Sissy Spacek go ape shit an toast everyone, that's a PG. But you even THINK about showing a breast that sucker's got an R for certain. Yeah, that makes sense. Anyway, Jaws, timeless, check it out (again).