Spielberg’s virtuoso monster movie/high-seas adventure signalled the dawn of the summer blockbuster — and remains timeless today.
Distilling author Peter Benchley’s look at shark attacks disrupting the affairs and corruption in a small seaside town into a relentless thriller about an overmatched cop trying to save the community from nature’s most efficient predator, Steven Spielberg set an impossibly high bar for himself with his second theatrical feature: If Jaws isn’t the best American movie ever made, it’s damn close. Spielberg famously had to rework the entire picture when the mechanical shark turned out to be the opposite of efficient, encouraging Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss to further flesh out their characters with screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, creating flawed, relatable human heroes and pitting them against a dead-eyed menace that’ll snap them in two without even blinking. That’s Jaws. It’s a perfect entertainment, a virtuoso monster movie, and a film that changed the way movies are made — and marketed.
Content advisory: violence, frightening scenes, mature themes