When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.
Release Year: 1975
Rating: 8.2/10 (185,930 voted)
Critic's Score: 79/100
Stars: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss
Storyline It's a hot summer on Amity Island, a small community whose main business is its beaches. When new Sheriff Martin Brody discovers the remains of a shark attack victim, his first inclination is to close the beaches to swimmers. This doesn't sit well with Mayor Larry Vaughn and several of the local businessmen. Brody backs down to his regret as that weekend a young boy is killed by the predator. The dead boy's mother puts out a bounty on the shark and Amity is soon swamped with amateur hunters and fisherman hoping to cash in on the reward. A local fisherman with much experience hunting sharks, Quint, offers to hunt down the creature down for a hefty fee. Soon Quint, Brodie and Matt Hooper from the Oceanographic Institute are at sea hunting the Great White shark. As Brodie succinctly surmises after their first encounter with the creature, they're going to need a bigger boat.
Writers: Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb
Cast: Roy Scheider
Chief Martin Brody
Mayor Larry Vaughn
(as Jeffrey C. Kramer)
Christine 'Chrissie' Watkins
Amity Island had everything. Clear skies. Gentle surf. Warm water. People flocked there every summer. It was the perfect feeding ground.
Filming Locations: American Legion Memorial Bridge, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $7,061,513
(22 June 1975)
Did You Know?
As Brody and Hooper are on the boat during a night scene a meteor appears clearly behind them.
When the two little kids who pull the fake shark fin around, finally surface, they find themselves surrounded by the Coast Guard's boats and rifles: the kid on the left then takes his mask off and removes his headgear (a diver's cap). But, just a second or two later, when he's being hoisted into one of the surrounding boats, the cap is back on his head, in its original position.
What's your name again? Christine 'Chrissie' Watkins:
Chrissie. Tom Cassidy:
Where are we going? Christine 'Chrissie' Watkins:
One of the Greatest Thrillers Ever Made
'Jaws' is the original summer blockbuster, setting the standard by
which all others are measured. It's the Michael Jordan of cinema: there
will never be another 'Jaws,' simply because the film so profoundly
changed the way movies are made and marketed.
Based on Peter Benchley's bestselling novel, 'Jaws' centers around the
fictional North Atlantic resort island of Amity, which finds itself
terrorized by an enormous great white shark. Our hero is Martin Brody,
a New York cop who took the job as Chief of the Amity PD to get his
family out of the city and then finds himself in the midst of an
unprecedented crisis none of his prior experience has prepared him for.
The remains of young Christine Watkins are found on the beach, the
apparent victim of a shark attack(Chrissie Watkins' death scene at the
opening of the movie is one of the most legendary in the history of
film). Chief Brody wants to close the beaches, but is refused
permission by Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) and the Amity
selectmen, all of whom fear that news of a shark attack off of Amity
will threaten the summer tourist trade, on which the town depends for
its very survival. The Mayor and his lackies persuade Chief Brody that
such incidents are always isolated, and, inexperienced in such matters,
he grudgingly agrees to keep quiet.
Consequently, the shark kills again (and again), and Chief Brody
eventually finds himself dealing both with his own moral guilt for
agreeing to hush up the first shark attack and with an enormous human
and social catastrophe which appears to be his sole responsibility.
Help comes first in the form of Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss, in the
role that propelled him to stardom), an icthyologist and oceanographer
dispatched to Amity to lend his expertise. Together, Hooper and Brody
struggle in vain against both the shark and Mayor Vaughan, who is
certain that keeping the beaches open for the sake of the town's
economy (and his own real-estate business) is worth the gamble.
Finally, Brody and Hooper charter an expedition with the enigmatic,
vaguely malevolent Quint (Robert Shaw), Amity's most feared and
respected shark hunter, to find and kill the shark and save the town
from financial disaster. What ensues is an epic, archetypal man vs.
beast quest that would make Herman Melville and Joseph Campbell proud.
Our shark, it turns out, is way above average size, terrifically swift
and powerful, and uncannily smart, to boot. Hooper, the scientist, is
awestruck at having encountered the Bigfoot of the sea; Quint, the
crafty fisherman with a serious chip on his shoulder against sharks,
realizes he has met the ultimate test of his skills; Brody, who swims
poorly and is afraid of water, must overcome abject fear and
disorientation just to maintain his composure.
Robert Shaw's Quint is one of the greatest anti-heroes the movies have
ever seen. He is funny and frightening all at once, and the famous
soliloquy in which he recalls the tragic sinking of the USS
Indianapolis--where, over the course of a week waiting for rescue, at
least 90 US Navy personnel died from shark attack wounds--is one of the
most chilling and unforgettable performances ever committed to film.
'Jaws' is the movie that made Steven Spielberg's career, and it's among
his finest. It's easy to forget because of his enormously successful
blockbusters that Spielberg is a phenomenally skillful and artful
director. His timing is superb, he mixes horror with comedy to
brilliant effect, he gets great performances out of his actors, and his
love for special effects has never overwhelmed his understanding of the
importance of story and character.
That said, the most brilliant aspect of 'Jaws' was a serendipitous
The special effects team had yet to fully troubleshoot 'Bruce,' the
mechanical shark, by the time filming was to begin. Under tight budget
restraints and enormous studio pressure, Spielberg had no choice but to
press on while his crew labored vainly to make the shark work in the
cold and corrosive north Atlantic seawater. To compensate for the
absence of the non-functional fake shark, Spielberg used shots from the
shark's point of view and John Williams' famous two-note theme to
create the illusion of the shark's presence in the early scenes.
Fortunately the crew was ultimately able to get Bruce into operational
status in time to film the big showdown, and some of the scenes are
filled in with live-shark footage filmed by Australian underwater video
pioneers Ron and Valerie Taylor. Consequently, the audience's fear is
magnified by the fact that, for the majority of the film, they cannot
see the shark, creating suspense towards the climax of the
confrontation between man and beast on Quint's fishing boat.
'Jaws' succeeds on almost every level. It is terrifying without being
grotesque, and spectacular without being unbelievable (if the shark
looks a little fake, remember that, at the time 'Jaws' was released,
'Space Invaders' was on the cutting edge of computer graphics design
and there was no such thing as 'Shark Week on the Discovery Channel').
Roy Scheider's Brody is a quintessential everyman, an average guy beset
by fear and guilt who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances and
rises to the occasion. Dreyfuss' Hooper is brash and brave enough not
to come off as nerdy or self-righteous, and his friendship with Brody
becomes the backbone of the movie (Spielberg and screenwriter Carl
Gottlieb wisely deviated from the novel in regards to the character of
Hooper, who was originally Brody's nemesis). Robert Shaw's Quint is a
modern-day Captain Ahab, a worthy foe for the malevolent shark. The
suspense is potent and the action thrilling, but the humor, emotion,
and character development make this movie much more than a summer