Jaws is a 1975 film directed by Steven Spielberg. It is based on the book of the same title by Peter Benchley and is about a Great White Shark attacking humans. It is thought to have created the Summer Blockbuster.
The film is followed by Jaws 2.
A New York City beat cop gets the opportunity for a better life for himself and his family when he is hired as The Chief of police of Amity Island. A fictional town hinted to be in the same vicinity of Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard. After spending an uneventful fall and winter in the sleepy island village setting. Brody is put to the test when a Great White Shark stakes a summer claim on it's territory and in turn, it's inhabitants. Brody is forced to take the matter into his own hands after countless attempts to warn the public and the bureaucracy of the town. The shark turns out to be extremely resistant and resourceful.
On a warm night at Amity's South beach a group of college teens are having what's know as a "Kegger". Music, a keg of beer, marijuana and lobster are all set for what seems like an auspicious get together. A young man named Tom Cassidy and a woman named Chrissie Watkins are enthralled with serious eye contact. Chrissie makes an initiative to have Tom make chase from the party down to the water for a swim as she strips while being pursued. He barely get's himself down to his underwear when he falls backward in the sand as Chrissie makes her way into the water. She bursting with agility quickly makes her way out to the the beaches first buoy. She beckons Tom to join him to no response as he is now quickly passing out. As she wades in the water a view from below shows the approach of something. Still unaware she is suddenly startled by a sharp tug from below. Which is then followed by constant dragging in several directions as she writhes in pain. She manages to reach the buoy she swam towards and grab it as she preys and sobs. Within a few seconds she is pulled away as she let's out a final scream and is sucked into a whirlpool like spin of water.
A night time view of the ocean dissolves into daylight. The view is now of Chief Brody's house on the other side of the island. Martin sitting up in bed complains about the sun in the bedroom. His wife Ellen reminds him when they bought the house it was the fall when the sun would rise the opposite side. Martin views the children in the yard. After a quick joke about his sad attempt at an Amity (New England) accent they both make there way into the kitchen. In the middle of their morning routine with the children a second phone directly on the kitchen wall for police business rings. His Deputy, Hendricks informs him of the report from Tom of the missing girl. Martin suspects a drowning.
Brody and Cassidy meet at the beach and converse about her disappearance as Brody searches her bag for clues. Both under stress decide to engage into small talk a bit as they're interrupted by Hendrick's frantic whistle blowing a few yards away. Martin keeps Tom at a distance as he inspects a torso and arm half buried in sand being feasted on by horseshoe crabs.
We next see Hendricks and Tommy holding glasses of Alka-Seltzer in the police office still in a state of shock. Brody's secretary Polly enters unaware of what has occurred. While she gives a report on miniscule police business as he types up the report. A call from the medical examiner confirms suspicions, shark attack. Brody asks Hendricks where the keep the beach closed signs, after being told there were never any he heads to the local general store for supplies. He is intercepted by Hendricks informing him that there are boy scouts in Avril Bay doing a swim for their Merit Badges, and no way to phone in. Brody hands the sign supplies to Hendricks with orders. "Beach closed, no swimming, by order of the Amity PD. Let Polly do the printing." The Mayor of Amity Vaughn intercepts Hendricks for intel on what has just transpired and is distraught when he hears the news and plan to close the beaches.
Brody parks onto the ferry leading just across to Avril Bay just as the Mayor and several other officials drive aboard to depart and confront Martin. The Mayor stresses to Brody the town lives on the booming tourist business during the summer. And closing the beaches will destroy the economy. What begins is a debate on whether the first autopsy results were incorrect, and not a boating accident. Town Reporter Meadows also states Amity has never had a shark problem. Mayor Vaugn reminds Brody about how fear can be a terrible thing. "Martin, it's all psychological. You yell barracuda, everybody says, "Huh? What?" You yell shark, we've got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July." Not wanting to be responsible for causing such a stir and not to step on bureaucratic toes, reluctantly Brody backs down.
The next day the islanders enjoy what could be the last private time before the beaches are flocked with tourists. Martin lounges in a beach chair but very uncomfortable even looking at silent waves. A few close calls seem to nearly cause a panic attack. Along with the stress of locals. One in particular council member jests with Martin that word has gotten around he's deathly afraid of water. To which his rebuttal is the old man's swim cap to his swim cap. "That's some bad hat, Harry."
After some time passes Martin seems to simmer down a bit after a shoulder rub from Ellen and no sign of trouble. A young boy named Alex Kitner pleads with his mother to go back in the water. Though no one notices a man has just lost his dog suddenly to the water, only the dog's fetch stick remains afloat. Pursuing from below, the shark begins an ascent to children above on the surface. Within moments it latches onto a yellow raft and Alex. A foreboding silhouette appears against the gleam of the sun and ocean, horrifying witnesses. Brody is in visible shock as he realizes what has just happened but springs into action and directs everyone out of the water. After a makeshift headcount. Alex Kitner's mother has lost site of her son. Only a blood-stained yellow raft remains.
The next day, following the attack and death of Alex Kitner, his mother and family place a 3 thousand dollar bounty on the capture and kill of the animal. The town and community members gather at the town hall to discuss the bounty and the state of the beaches. Many are concerned as they own businesses that rely on tourists for their whole year nest egg.
After a tasteless joke from a council member whether the bounty will be in cash or check, the community are up in arms on whether the beaches will be closed. Chief Brody assures they are doing all in their power including shark spotters and bringing in an expert from the Oceanographic institute. They ask the question again. He answers yes. An uproar starts even as Mayor Vaughn states only for 24 hours, Brody is angry at the time frame. The Meeting seems in chaos until the sharp sound of someone scraping their nails on a chalkboard interrupts them.
Local fisherman, Quint, (In the novel, first name is Sam.) grabs the attention of the community and relaxes back into a folding chair while nibbling on a saltine cracker. He then goes into full detail that it isn't a fish that will just swim off after it's had it's full. That the island needs to work fast to rid themselves of it or the beaches will just open and close. He stresses that this kind of shark deserves his attention more than the Mrs. Kitner's proposed bounty. They have a choice to pay his wage or risk financial ruin. The Mayor thanks him, though obviously stressed by the interruption, hinting Quint's history of a thorn in his side.
That night Martin is thumbing through some Library books about sharks after his interest being peaked. He focus becomes drawn on the photos of sharks and victims injury's. He seems enthralled but also nervous the more he goes on. His back to his approaching wife gives him a scare and he starts to share some of what he's been reading. Ellen is catching a buzz and wants to take his mind of it with a little drunk sex. Martin smirks and lounges back between Ellen's knees as he stares ahead. Ellen's idea has obviously made the thought of sharks become a short term memory for now. She informs him that their son Micheal is enjoying his birthday present, a small sailboat, and he's sitting in it. Martin quickly gets up and rushes outside shouting to Micheal at the dock to immediately get out of the boat. Ellen argues that's it's unfair and that he's just in his boat tied to the pier and he's not in the water. Martin starts to feel guilty for lashing out. Ellen glances at the book Martin had open and sees an illustration of a shark tearing it's way through a large lifeboat full of sailors. She immediately yells for him to get out of the water.
On the other side of the island, two local fisherman Denherder and Charlie are in a rowboat and headed to the dock, hellbent on getting the shark first and collecting the bounty. Their unorthodox plan consisting of Charlie's wife's holiday roast, a large hook, metal chain, and an inner-tube as a "bobber substitute" and tie it all to the pier.
Back at his home, Martin is just as tense as before after the boat argument and returns to the shark books. As he thumbs through the film focuses back to Denherder and Charlie as the shark has struck the bait and begins to take it out. What at first is excitement turns into confusing and fear as the dock is ripped in half with Charlie on the forward section before he loses hold. The half dock, now just an extension of the shark, turns and targets Charlie, a tense situation evolves as he swims and then tries to fumble himself onto the pier. Charlie makes his way onto the dock, the shark itself seems satisfied enough by the fear that it dislodges the section and swims off. Both men become satisfied with leaving for the night.
The next day Deputy Hendricks has a laugh about the holiday roast fiasco as the chief tells him it's not funny and not to joke about it. People are endangering themselves and by now the lure of a bounty has drawn anyone who can man a boat in for the taking.
List of deaths Edit
|Name||Cause of Death||Killer||On Screen||Notes|
|Chrissie "Christine" Watkins||Dragged underwater and dismembered (off-screen)||Shark||Yes||While skinny dipping|
|Alex Kintner||Pulled from raft, and torn apart||Shark||Yes||Followed by Pippet's disappearance|
|Ben Gardner||Killed||Shark||No||Found dead|
|Estuary Victim||Leg dismembered/Eaten alive||Shark||Yes|
|Shark||Scuba tank placed in mouth, then shot with M1 Garand and blown up||Martin Brody||Yes|
- Roy Scheider - Chief Martin Brody
- Robert Shaw - Quint
- Richard Dreyfuss - Matt Hooper
- Lorraine Gary - Ellen Brody
- Murray Hamilton - Mayor Larry Vaughn
- Carl Gottlieb - Meadows
- Jeffrey Kramer - Deputy Lenny Hendricks
- Susan Backlinie - Chrissie Watkins
- Peter Benchley - Reporter
Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown, producers at Universal Pictures, independently heard about Peter Benchley's novel Jaws. Brown came across it in the literature section of lifestyle magazine Cosmopolitan, then edited by his wife, Helen Gurley Brown. A small card written by the magazine's book editor gave a detailed description of the plot, concluding with the comment "might make a good movie". The producers each read the book over the course of a single night and agreed the next morning that it was "the most exciting thing that they had ever read" and that they wanted to produce a film version, although they were unsure how it would be accomplished. They purchased the movie rights in 1973, before the book's publication, for approximately $175,000. Brown claimed that had they read the book twice, they would never have made the film because they would have realized how difficult it would be to execute certain sequences.
To direct, Zanuck and Brown first considered veteran filmmaker John Sturges—whose résumé included another maritime adventure, The Old Man and the Sea—before offering the job to Dick Richards, whose directorial debut, The Culpepper Cattle Co. had come out the previous year. However, they grew irritated by Richards's habit of describing the shark as a whale and soon dropped him from the project. Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg very much wanted the job. The 26-year-old had just directed his first theatrical film, The Sugarland Express, for Zanuck and Brown. At the end of a meeting in their office, Spielberg noticed their copy of the still-unpublished Benchley novel, and after reading it was immediately captivated. He later observed that it was similar to his 1971 television film Duel in that both deal with "these leviathans targeting everymen." After Richards's departure, the producers signed Spielberg to direct in June 1973, before the release of The Sugarland Express.
Before production began, however, Spielberg grew reluctant to continue with Jaws, in fear of becoming typecast as the "truck and shark director". He wanted to move over to 20th Century Fox's Lucky Lady instead, but Universal exercised its right under its contract with the director to veto his departure. Brown helped convince Spielberg to stick with the project, saying that "after [Jaws], you can make all the films you want". The film was given an estimated budget of $3.5 million and a shooting schedule of 55 days. Principal photography was set to begin in May 1974. Universal wanted the shoot to finish by the end of June, when the major studios' contract with the Screen Actors Guild was due to expire, to avoid any disruptions due to a potential strike.
For the screen adaptation, Spielberg wanted to stay with the novel's basic plot, while omitting Benchley's many subplots. He declared that his favorite part of the book was the shark hunt on the last 120 pages, and told Zanuck when he accepted the job, "I'd like to do the picture if I could change the first two acts and base the first two acts on original screenplay material, and then be very true to the book for the last third." When the producers purchased the rights to his novel, they promised Benchley that he could write the first draft of the screenplay. The intent was to make sure a script could be done despite an impending threat of a Writer’s Guild strike, given Benchley was not unionized. Overall, he wrote three drafts before the script was turned over to other writers; delivering his final version to Spielberg, he declared, "I'm written out on this, and that's the best I can do." Benchley would later describe his contribution to the finished film as "the storyline and the ocean stuff – basically, the mechanics", given he "didn’t know how to put the character texture into a screenplay." One of his changes was to remove the novel's adulterous affair between Ellen Brody and Matt Hooper, at the suggestion of Spielberg, who feared it would compromise the camaraderie between the men on the Orca. During the film's production, Benchley agreed to return and play a small onscreen role as a reporter.
Spielberg, who felt that the characters in Benchley's script were still unlikable, invited the young screenwriter John Byrum to do a rewrite, but he declined the offer. Columbo creators William Link and Richard Levinson also declined Spielberg's invitation. Tony and Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Howard Sackler was in Los Angeles when the filmmakers began looking for another writer and offered to do an uncredited rewrite; since the producers and Spielberg were unhappy with Benchley's drafts, they quickly agreed. At the suggestion of Spielberg, Brody's characterization made him afraid of water, "coming from an urban jungle to find something more terrifying off this placid island near Massachusetts."
Spielberg wanted "some levity" in Jaws, humor that would avoid making it "a dark sea hunt," so he turned to his friend Carl Gottlieb, a comedy writer-actor then working on the sitcom The Odd Couple. Spielberg sent Gottlieb a script, asking what the writer would change and if there was a role he would be interested in performing. Gottlieb sent Spielberg three pages of notes, and picked the part of Meadows, the politically connected editor of the local paper. He passed the audition one week before Spielberg took him to meet the producers regarding a writing job.
While the deal was initially for a "one-week dialogue polish", Gottlieb eventually became the primary screenwriter, rewriting the entire script during a nine-week period of principal photography. The script for each scene was typically finished the night before it was shot, after Gottlieb had dinner with Spielberg and members of the cast and crew to decide what would go into the film. Many pieces of dialogue originated from the actors' improvisations during these meals; a few were created on set, most notably Roy Scheider's ad-lib of the line "You're gonna need a bigger boat." John Milius contributed dialogue polishes, and Sugarland Express writers Matthew Robbins and Hal Barwood also made uncredited contributions. Spielberg has claimed that he prepared his own draft, although it is unclear to what degree the other screenwriters drew on his material. One specific alteration he called for in the story was to change the cause of the shark's death from extensive wounds to a scuba tank explosion, as he felt audiences would respond better to a "big rousing ending." The director estimated the final script had a total of 27 scenes that were not in the book.
Benchley had written Jaws after reading about sport fisherman Frank Mundus's capture of an enormous shark in 1964. According to Gottlieb, Quint was loosely based on Mundus, whose book Sportfishing for Sharks he read for research. Sackler came up with the backstory of Quint as a survivor of the World War II USS Indianapolis disaster. The question of who deserves the most credit for writing Quint's monologue about the Indianapolis has caused substantial controversy. Spielberg described it as a collaboration between Sackler, Milius, and actor Robert Shaw, who was also a playwright. According to the director, Milius turned Sackler's "three-quarters of a page" speech into a monologue, and that was then rewritten by Shaw. Gottlieb gives primary credit to Shaw, downplaying Milius's contribution.
Principal photography began May 2, 1974, on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, selected after consideration was given to eastern Long Island. Brown explained later that the production "needed a vacation area that was lower middle class enough so that an appearance of a shark would destroy the tourist business." Martha's Vineyard was also chosen because the surrounding ocean had a sandy bottom that never dropped below 35 feet (11 m) for 12 miles (19 km) out from shore, which allowed the mechanical sharks to operate while also beyond sight of land. As Spielberg wanted to film the aquatic sequences relatively close-up to resemble what people see while swimming, cinematographer Bill Butler devised new equipment to facilitate marine and underwater shooting, including a rig to keep the camera stable regardless of tide and a sealed submersible camera box. Spielberg asked the art department to avoid red in both scenery and wardrobe, so that the blood from the attacks would be the only red element and cause a bigger shock.
Three full-size pneumatically powered prop sharks—which the film crew nicknamed "Bruce" after Spielberg's lawyer, Bruce Ramer—were made for the production: a "sea-sled shark", a full-body prop with its belly missing that was towed with a 300-foot (roughly 100-m) line, and two "platform sharks", one that moved from camera-left to -right (with its hidden left side exposing an array of pneumatic hoses), and an opposite model with its right flank uncovered. The sharks were designed by art director Joe Alves during the third quarter of 1973. Between November 1973 and April 1974, the sharks were fabricated at Rolly Harper's Motion Picture & Equipment Rental in Sun Valley, California. Their construction involved a team of as many as 40 effects technicians, supervised by mechanical effects supervisor Bob Mattey, best known for creating the giant squid in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. After the sharks were completed, they were trucked to the shooting location. In early July, the platform used to tow the two side-view sharks capsized as it was being lowered to the ocean floor, forcing a team of divers to retrieve it. The model required 14 operators to control all of the moving parts.
The film had a troubled shoot and went far over budget. David Brown said that the budget "was $4 million and the picture wound up costing $9 million"; the effects outlays alone grew to $3 million due to the problems with the mechanical sharks. Disgruntled crew members gave the film the nickname "Flaws". Spielberg attributed many problems to his perfectionism and his inexperience. The former was epitomized by his insistence on shooting at sea with a life-sized shark; "I could have shot the movie in the tank or even in a protected lake somewhere, but it would not have looked the same," he said. As for his lack of experience: "I was naive about the ocean, basically. I was pretty naive about mother nature and the hubris of a filmmaker who thinks he can conquer the elements was foolhardy, but I was too young to know I was being foolhardy when I demanded that we shoot the film in the Atlantic Ocean and not in a North Hollywood tank." Gottlieb said that "there was nothing to do except make the movie", so everyone kept overworking, and while as a writer he did not have to attend the ocean set every day, once the crewmen returned they arrived "ravaged and sunburnt, windblown and covered with salt water".
Shooting at sea led to many delays: unwanted sailboats drifted into frame, cameras got soaked, and the Orca once began to sink with the actors on board. The prop sharks frequently malfunctioned owing to a series of problems including bad weather, pneumatic hoses taking on salt water, frames fracturing due to water resistance, corroding skin, and electrolysis. From the first water test onward, the "non-absorbent" neoprene foam that made up the sharks' skin soaked up liquid, causing the sharks to balloon, and the sea-sled model frequently got entangled among forests of seaweed. Spielberg later calculated that during the 12-hour daily work schedule, on average only four hours were actually spent filming. Gottlieb was nearly decapitated by the boat's propellers, and Dreyfuss was almost imprisoned in the steel cage. The actors were frequently seasick. Shaw also fled to Canada whenever he could due to tax problems, engaged in binge drinking, and developed a grudge against Dreyfuss, who was getting rave reviews for his performance in Duddy Kravitz. Editor Verna Fields rarely had material to work with during principal photography, as according to Spielberg "we would shoot five scenes in a good day, three in an average day, and none in a bad day."
The delays proved serendipitous in some regards. The script was refined during production, and the unreliable mechanical sharks forced Spielberg to shoot many scenes so that the shark was only hinted at. For example, for much of the shark hunt, its location is indicated by the floating yellow barrels. The opening had the shark devouring Chrissie, but it was rewritten so that it would be shot with Backlinie being dragged and yanked by cables to simulate an attack. Spielberg also included multiple shots of just the dorsal fin. This forced restraint is widely thought to have added to the film's suspense. As Spielberg put it years later, "The film went from a Japanese Saturday matinee horror flick to more of a Hitchcock, the less-you-see-the-more-you-get thriller." In another interview, he similarly declared, "The shark not working was a godsend. It made me become more like Alfred Hitchcock than like Ray Harryhausen." The acting became crucial for making audiences believe in such a big shark: "The more fake the shark looked in the water, the more my anxiety told me to heighten the naturalism of the performances."
Footage of real sharks was shot by Ron and Valerie Taylor in the waters off Australia, with a smaller-framed actor in a miniature shark cage to create the illusion that the sharks were enormous. During the Taylors' shoot, a great white attacked the boat and cage. The footage of the cage attack was so stunning that Spielberg was eager to incorporate it in the film. No one had been in the cage at the time, however, and the script, following the novel, originally had the shark killing Hooper in it. The storyline was consequently altered to have Hooper escape from the cage, which allowed the footage to be used. As production executive Bill Gilmore put it, "The shark down in Australia rewrote the script and saved Dreyfuss's character."
Although principal photography was scheduled to take 55 days, it did not wrap until October 6, 1974, after 159 days. Spielberg, reflecting on the protracted shoot, stated, "I thought my career as a filmmaker was over. I heard rumors ... that I would never work again because no one had ever taken a film 100 days over schedule." Spielberg himself was not present for the shooting of the final scene in which the shark explodes, as he believed that the crew were planning to throw him in the water when the scene was done. It has since become a tradition for Spielberg to be absent when the final scene of one of his films is being shot.Afterward, underwater scenes were shot at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer water tank in Culver City, with stuntmen Dick Warlock and Frank James Sparks as stand-ins for Dreyfuss in the scene where the shark attacks the cage, as well as near Santa Catalina Island, California. Fields, who had completed a rough cut of the first two-thirds of the film, up until the shark hunt, finished the editing and reworked some of the material. According to Zanuck, "She actually came in and reconstructed some scenes that Steven had constructed for comedy and made them terrifying, and some scenes he shot to be terrifying and made them comedy scenes." The ship used for the Orca was brought to Los Angeles so the sound effects team could record sounds for both the ship and the underwater scenes.
Two scenes were altered following test screenings. As the audience's screams had covered up Scheider's "bigger boat" one-liner, Brody's reaction after the shark jumps behind him was extended, and the volume of the line was raised. Spielberg also decided that he was greedy for "one more scream", and reshot the scene in which Hooper discovers Ben Gardner's body, using $3,000 of his own money after Universal refused to pay for the reshoot. The underwater scene was shot in Fields's swimming pool in Encino, California, using a lifecast latex model of Craig Kingsbury's head attached to a fake body, which was placed in the wrecked boat's hull. To simulate the murky waters of Martha's Vineyard, powdered milk was poured into the pool, which was then covered with tarpaulin.
Box office performance Edit
Jaws opened with a $7 million weekend and recouped its production costs in two weeks. In just 78 days, it overtook The Godfather as the highest-grossing film at the North American box office, sailing past that picture's earnings of $86 million to become the first film to reach $100 million in rentals. Its initial release ultimately brought in $123.1 million in rentals. Theatrical re-releases in 1976 and 1979 brought its total rentals to $133.4 million. The picture entered overseas release in December 1975, and its international business mirrored its domestic performance. It broke records in Singapore, New Zealand, Japan, Spain, and Mexico. By 1977, Jaws was the highest-grossing international release with worldwide rentals of $193 million, equating to about $400 million of gross revenue; it supplanted The Godfather, which had earned $145 million in rentals.
Jaws was the highest-grossing film of all time until Star Wars, which debuted two years later. Star Wars surpassed Jaws for the U.S. record six months after its release and set a new global record in 1978. As of June 2013, it is the 127th-highest-grossing film of all time with $470.7 million worldwide, and the 66th highest domestically with a total North American gross of $260 million. Adjusted for inflation, Jaws has earned almost $2 billion worldwide at 2011 prices and is the second most successful franchise film after Star Wars. In North America, it is the seventh-highest-grossing movie of all time, with a total of $1.017 billion at current prices, based on an estimated 128,078,800 tickets sold. In the United Kingdom, it is the seventh-highest-grossing film to be released since 1975, earning the equivalent of over £70 million in 2009/10 currency, with admissions estimated at 16.2 million. Jaws has also sold 13 million tickets in Brazil, the second-highest attendance ever in the country behind Titanic.
On television, the American Broadcasting Company aired it for the first time right after its 1979 re-release. The first U.S. broadcast attracted 57 percent of the total audience, the second highest televised movie share at the time behind Gone with the Wind. In the United Kingdom, 23 million people watched its inaugural broadcast in October 1981, the second biggest TV audience ever for a feature film behind Live and Let Die.
Critical response Edit
Jaws received mostly positive reviews upon release. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called it "a sensationally effective action picture, a scary thriller that works all the better because it's populated with characters that have been developed into human beings". Variety 's A.D. Murphy praised Spielberg's directorial skills, and called Robert Shaw's performance "absolutely magnificent". According to The New Yorker 's Pauline Kael, it was "the most cheerfully perverse scare movie ever made ... [with] more zest than an early Woody Allen picture, a lot more electricity, [and] it's funny in a Woody Allen sort of way". For New Times magazine, Frank Rich wrote, "Spielberg is blessed with a talent that is absurdly absent from most American filmmakers these days: this man actually knows how to tell a story on screen. ... It speaks well of this director's gifts that some of the most frightening sequences in Jaws are those where we don't even see the shark." Writing for New York magazine, Judith Crist described the film as "an exhilarating adventure entertainment of the highest order" and complimented its acting and "extraordinary technical achievements". Rex Reed praised the "nerve-frying" action scenes and concluded that "for the most part, Jaws is a gripping horror film that works beautifully in every department".
The film was not without its detractors. Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote, "It's a measure of how the film operates that not once do we feel particular sympathy for any of the shark's victims. ... In the best films, characters are revealed in terms of the action. In movies like Jaws, characters are simply functions of the action ... like stage hands who move props around and deliver information when it's necessary". He did, however, describe it as "the sort of nonsense that can be a good deal of fun". Los Angeles Times critic Charles Champlin disagreed with the film's PG rating, saying that "Jaws is too gruesome for children, and likely to turn the stomach of the impressionable at any age. ... It is a coarse-grained and exploitative work which depends on excess for its impact. Ashore it is a bore, awkwardly staged and lumpily written." Marcia Magill of Films in Review said that while Jaws "is eminently worth seeing for its second half", she felt that before the protagonists' pursuit of the shark the film was "often flawed by its busyness". William S. Pechter of Commentary described Jaws as "a mind-numbing repast for sense-sated gluttons" and "filmmaking of this essentially manipulative sort"; Molly Haskell of The Village Voice similarly characterized it as a "scare machine that works with computer-like precision. ... You feel like a rat, being given shock therapy". The most frequently criticized aspect of the film has been the artificiality of its mechanical antagonist: Magill declared that "the programmed shark has one truly phony close-up", and in 2002, online reviewer James Berardinelli said that if not for Spielberg's deftly suspenseful direction, "we would be doubled over with laughter at the cheesiness of the animatronic creature." Halliwell's Film Guide claimed "despite genuinely suspenseful and frightening sequences, it is a slackly narrated and sometimes flatly handled thriller with an over-abundance of dialogue and, when it finally appears, a pretty unconvincing monster."
Jaws won three Academy Awards for Best Film Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, and Best Sound (Robert Hoyt, Roger Heman, Earl Madery and John Carter). It was also nominated for Best Picture, losing to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Spielberg greatly resented the fact that he was not nominated for Best Director. Along with the Oscar, John Williams's score won the Grammy Award, the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, and the Golden Globe Award. To her Academy Award, Verna Fields added the American Cinema Editors' Eddie Award for Best Edited Feature Film. Jaws was chosen Favorite Movie at the People's Choice Awards. It was also nominated for best Film, Director, Actor (Richard Dreyfuss), Editing, and Sound at the 29th British Academy Film Awards, and Best Film—Drama, Director, and Screenplay at the 33rd Golden Globe Awards. Spielberg was nominated by the Directors Guild of America for a DGA Award, and the Writers Guild of America nominated Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb's script for Best Adapted Drama.
In the years since its release, Jaws has frequently been cited by film critics and industry professionals as one of the greatest movies of all time. It was number 48 on American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Movies, a list of the greatest American films of all time compiled in 1998; it dropped to number 56 on the 10 Year Anniversary list. AFI also ranked the shark at number 18 on its list of the 50 Best Villains, Roy Scheider's line "You're gonna need a bigger boat" 35th on a list of top 100 movie quotes, Williams's score at sixth on a list of 100 Years of Film Scores, and the film as second on a list of 100 most thrilling films, behind only Psycho. In 2003, The New York Times included the film on its list of the best 1,000 movies ever made. The following year, Jaws placed at the top of the Bravo network's five-hour miniseries The 100 Scariest Movie Moments. The Chicago Film Critics Association named it the sixth scariest film ever made in 2006. In 2008, Jaws was ranked the fifth greatest film in history by Empire magazine, which also placed Quint at number 50 on its list of the 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time. The film has been cited in many other lists of 50 and 100 greatest films, including ones compiled by Leonard Maltin, Entertainment Weekly, Film4, Rolling Stone, Total Film, TV Guide, and Vanity Fair. In 2001, the United States Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry as a "culturally significant" motion picture. In 2006, its screenplay was ranked the 63rd best of all time by the Writers Guild of America.
See also Edit
- Chronological List of Horror Films
- Alphabetical List of Horror Films
- List of deaths in Jaws series
- List of Movies in 1975
- Jaws (film) at the Internet Movie Database
- Jaws (film) at AllMovie
- Jaws (film) at Rotten Tomatoes
- Jaws (film) at Wikipedia
- Jaws (film) at Horror on Screen
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