JAWS = Timeless Cinema.
It's true, few movies tell a story better and in a more compelling way then JAWS - the original summer blockbuster, which was a world-wide smash-hit or "phenomenon" upon it's initial release in May of 1975. Forty-one years later it still stands as one of the best movies of all time and having seen it well over 100 times in the past 30 years, I can firmly attest to it's extreme longevity and at this point it would seem JAWS' ability to entertain me, myself and the masses is indefatigable. In other words: JAWS IS ETERNAL. An ageless, universally beloved masterpiece and due to the films great originality, it has always been easy for me to admire it.
The films great cast of Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Lorraine Grey and Murray Hamilton really pull together here and throughout the film they play off each other beautifully, the cast exudes a type of "naturalistic chemistry" that's rarely attained in movies. That's one of the key reason why JAWS is such a cohesive and enduring movie and if you haven't noticed over the years, all of the scenes in this movie gel perfectly, with not a single scene being wasted or without purpose. Deftly directed by a 27 year-old Steven Spielberg throughout the course of mid 1974 to early 1975, the production was a troubled one (primarily due to malfunctioning mechanical sharks) and the budget ballooned to several times it's original estimate, but as the film resoundingly shows they succeeded in creating a gripping masterpiece of cinema - that's often mimicked in one way or another, but has certainly never been bettered.
Set in the fictitious locale of Amity Island (as most know, in actuality it was filmed in and around Martha's Vineyard Massachussetts) JAWS tells the story of a once-pleasant sea-side community, that suddenly finds itself being terrorized, by a huge Great White shark "That's a 20-footer... 25, 3-tons of em'" that's gone -rogue- and has staked a claim off the beaches of Amity Island. Naturally this causes confusion and commotion among the town folk, bounties are set, amateur shark-hunters recklessly take to the water and throughout the bloody-tension-filled affair, the towns various entities of local government are constantly clashing with each other; in other words lots of friction and stubborn, thick-headed resistance bubble up and the tension is at times so thick, you can cut it with a knife. Basically what it is, is enough people have to be eaten by the shark, before the mayor and his circle of cronies finally pull their heads out of the sand and come to the same obvious conclusion; that Martin Brody, the sharp-witted and instinctual sheriff had already concluded. So add governmental haranguing as yet another element weaved into this intricate, yet cohesive story.
The film is bi-sected into two distinctly different acts, with the first half taking place mostly on the dry ground of Amity Island, with a few boating and swimming excursions, but still largely land-based. However, in the second half, we find ourselves adrift at sea aboard Quint's boat, for the remainder of the movie - which most would agree is the more exciting part. The role of the shark-hunter "Quint" is BRILLIANTLY played by the late-great Robert Shaw and is, by far, the films most-memorable and most-colorful character. Rarely is a film character so vividly well put together and as memorable as the cantankerous Quint, with his voice being the key reason; plus he has some mighty colorful "fisherman's tales" to tell, as you will find out. You can thank the numerous other "bigger names" that, for varying reasons, turned down that role of which there were several, with Charlton Heston and Robert Mitchum being just couple of them. The action and excitement are all cranked up several notches in the latter half of the film, with much tension between the three ship mates, Brody, Matt Hooper (a marine biologist) and the ever-salty Quint. This iconic film concludes with what's literally "Smile you son-of-a!" an explosive finale! That which has long stood as one of cinema's most memorable, if not improbable, ending's.
The Music: As Steven Spielberg has said, the music of John Williams is half the movie and it easily ranks as one of the most memorable and effective film scores of all-time. A powerful and ingenious orchestral score, dripping with gloomy atmosphere and with much in the way of toothy serrated menace and of course JAWS has what's probably the best-known movie theme ever written. Williams' award-winning music for JAWS not only took his career to the next level, but in a very big way helped resuscitate a dying art-form; that of course being large-scale orchestral film scores, which had been in steady decline since the mid to late 1960's. Williams' score for Star Wars just two years later would yet further benefit that cause to even greater effect.
On The Oscar Front: JAWS took home three Oscar's (for, best sound recording, best score and best film editing) and damn well should of had another or two, Best Picture being one of them.
Ultimately JAWS stands as a grand and regal film classic - that only an idiot would not like.
......and yes, because of this movie and it's infinitely lesser sequels, I shudder at the mere thought of being in the ocean.
**Update**: The wreck site of Quint's ship the U.S.S. Indianapolis was discovered on August 19th 2017, by a deep-sea search team lead by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen 72 years after her infamous sinking. Her watery grave rests some 18,000 feet below the surface of the Phillipine Sea.
Thanks Paul, it's been a long time coming.