Steven Spielberg cut his teeth on the meaty role Jaws presented, directing a film using a giant rubber shark model, that simply would not work. Oddly enough, having to resort to Alfred Hitchcock like suspense building, in not showing 'Bruce,' as the flawed animatronic became known, the lack of props actually helped to make the film a success.
The terrifying motion picture from the terrifying No. 1 best seller by Peter Benchley
JAWS broke all box office records to become the highest grossing film of all time. However, it was soon surpassed by Star Wars in 1977.
Jaws is probably the most famous shark movie ever, starring Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Lorraine Gary, Carl Gottlieb, Jeffrey Kramer, Susan Backlinie and Jonathan Filley. As a piece of cinematic history, the importance of Jaws simply cannot be overstated. It is the film that literally defined the modern approach to presenting movies as we know it, literally the first true 'blockbuster' feature.
As a piece of popular culture, the influences of Jaws - both on the screen and, unfortunately, off - cannot be denied or overemphasized. However, it is as a piece of good, solid film entertainment that Jaws truly excels, an all time movie classic that remains the single greatest 'killer monster' flick ever made. For all these reasons and more, Jaws is a timeless must-see.
The film is about a great white shark, which terrorizes the resort town of Amity. The local police chief wants to close the beaches but the mayor will not allow it because of the potential harm to the town's tourism during the lucrative Fourth of July weekend. After several shark attacks, the mayor relents and the town hires a crusty old mariner to kill the shark. The mariner, accompanied by the chief and a shark expert, takes to the sea to try and stop the shark.
Hunting the fishy: (l to r) Robert Shaw, Roy Schieder and Richard Dreyfus find humour in grisly shark attacks.
Opening sequence - beach party girl swimming with Jaws
Universal Pictures released the movie in June 1975. The MPAA rating was PG, although a warning message (may be too intense for younger children) was also included.
Jaws was directed by Steven Spielberg. It was his second theatrical film, the first being The Sugarland Express (1974), his third being Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).
Jaws was produced by Richard Zanuck and his partner David Brown, who also produced Spielberg's The Sugarland Express. They paid $175,000 for the movie rights to Peter Benchley's runaway best-selling novel and also a Benchley script.
From the best-selling novel by Peter Benchley, Steven Spielberg directed this thrill ride of terror. During the height of beach season, the Massachusetts resort town of Amity Island is terrorized one summer by surprise attacks from a great white shark.
Three unlikely partners team up to hunt down the rogue and destroy it: the new chief of police from New York (Roy Scheider), a young university-educated oceanographer (Richard Dreyfuss), and a crusty old-time fisherman (Robert Shaw). The film shoot was notoriously difficult for the young Spielberg, who had directed only one feature film before JAWS. The mechanical shark seldom operated correctly, and Spielberg was frequently forced to create the idea of terror without actually showing the shark.
However, after the film premiered it went on to become the highest-grossing film of all time--surpassing THE GODFATHER and becoming the first film to gross more than a hundred million dollars. Composer John Williams created the score to JAWS, which has since become a well-known theme of impending doom. Ron and Valerie Taylor were responsible for filming live sharks in Australia; their sequences were later mixed with footage of the mechanical shark.
Captain Quint, Chief Brody and Hooper at the stern watching Jaws
Steven Spielberg's film is generally considered one of the scariest movies ever made. The frightfest is based on the book by Peter Benchley, son of author Nathaniel and grandson of author Robert Benchley. The plot is simple: The tourist season of a resort island is devoured by a great white shark. The ensuing "fishing trip" to catch the monstrous man-eater is filmed with power and suspense and plenty of scares that has had audiences jumping out of their seats for decades--and staying out of the water.
"You're gonna need a bigger boat."--Chief Brody (Roy Scheider, who ad-libbed the line) to Quint (Robert Shaw)
Theatrical release: June 20, 1975. The film was shot on location on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. Estimated budget: $12 million. The film grossed more than $260 million at the domestic box office and nearly $475 million worldwide. JAWS was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and John Williams won an Oscar for his original score. For the scene of Richard Dreyfuss fighting the shark from inside a cage, the crew used a very short stunt diver to make the shark seem abnormally large. The famous shot of a head popping out of a hole in a sunken boat was shot in editor Verna Field's pool and was inserted by Spielberg after the film was completed. JAWS is number 48 on the American Film Institute's list of America's 100 Greatest Movies. One early title for the film was STILLNESS IN THE WATER.
The film was supported by an enormous public-relations campaign. According to Newsweek, "Like the novel, the movie was launched with an almost unprecedented promotional campaign, complete with cross-country tours by stars and $700,000 worth of prime-time TV time to trumpet the release in 450 theaters throughout the land." The film became the highest-grossing film of all time until STAR WARS surpassed it two years later. JAWS spawned three sequels: JAWS 2, JAWS 3-D, and JAWS 4--THE REVENGE, as well as countless imitators.
"...One of the most effective thrillers ever made....One of the remarkable things about the picture is its relatively muted tone..."
"...The phenomenon that invented 'the summer movie'..."
"...This fishy thriller is still Steven Spielberg's best movie..."
"...It pretty much rewrote the rules for the modern-day blockbuster..."
"[A] record-shattering success..."
Hooper and Chief Brody scramble onboard as Jaws circles
Out of all the species walking, flying, slithering or swimming, there aren't many who have been around as long, survived as well, or come in so many shapes and kinds as the shark. The earliest evidences of sharks are isolated spines, teeth and scales that appeared about 430 million years ago in the Silurian Period, known as the "Age of Fishes". Sharks have a sleek, streamlined design which helps them swim without using up a lot of energy. They certainly need to conserve their energy because they never really sleep and most of them never stop swimming.
Jaws Theme - Information and .wav file excerpt of the famous John Williams Jaws theme.
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