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Jaws  (1975)

Cast: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Chris Rebello, Carl Gottlieb
Director: Steven Spielberg
U.S. Distribution: Universal
U.S. Release Date: 6/20/75
Running Time: 2:04
MPAA Rating: PG

In the summer of 1975 and on my mother's birthday no less, this little shark movie surfaced in U.S. movie theaters with as much drama, action and suspense as any other film that had come before it (at least for this nine-year-old boy who could not wait to see it). I recall that I did not want to go swimming after seeing Jaws that summer. I think the movie had that effect on a lot of people.

With a script adapted from author Peter Benchley's best selling novel, Steven Spielberg goes right for the proverbial jugular with a toothy predator of the deep feasting on swimmers and boaters off of Amity Island (actually Martha's Vineyard). Police Chief Brody (Roy Schieder) enlists the help of a young marine biologist, Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), and an aging shark hunter named Quint (Robert Shaw) to stop the Great White killing machine.

Brody must overcome his fear of the water and a mayor who, by all means necessary, wants his beaches open for July 4th in order to save the island's inhabitants and satisfy the tourists who have gathered for some holiday fun. Brody is prophetic in warning the mayor, "You open the beaches on the 4th of July, it's like ringing a dinner bell"; then again to Quint after getting a good look at the shark: "You're gonna need a bigger boat."

As good as this movie is - a thrilling plot, great setting and characters and exceptional acting - it might not have been the incredible hit it was, if not for music composer extraordinaire John Williams. His Oscar-winning score elevates this production to a whole new level.

A newly-released 25th Anniversary video release includes a second tape of extras including interviews with the director, stars and others who helped in creating this landmark film. So what does Spielberg think of when he thinks of Jaws? "Courage and stupidity... underwater."

© 2000, Delton Perrodin

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