Sunday, May 10, 2015

Movie #307: Jaws

Jaws is, of course, a quasi-horror flick directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Lorraine Gray, and a big-ass shark.

Jaws is a story of serendipity. It was meant to be a creature feature, and then they couldn't get the damn shark to work right, so Spielberg wound up using the camera as the shark. This had the effect of making the movie actually kind of scary, saving the shark for some later reveals, and lo and behold, this movie blew the damn doors off. Quality sells, Hollywood, but you can't bottle it.

Anyway. Basic summary: Amity is a summer town where tourists go to beach themselves. The new police chief, Martin Brody (Scheider) is from New York and a generally competent sort. He goes out to investigate a girl (Susan Backlinie) who's gone missing while swimming, and find she's been killed by a shark. But rather than scare away tourists, the mayor of Amity (Murray Hamilton) calls it a boating accident and opens the beaches. Almost immediately, a young boy (Jeffery Vorhees) is killed in broad daylight, and the hunt is on.

Brody, being the only fucking intelligent human being on this island, brings in a shark expert named Hooper (Dreyfuss) who confirms it's probably a Great White. After a free for all shark hunt leads to a smaller tiger shark being killed, the beaches reopen, and the actual killer shark shows up and eats another dude. The town hires renegade shark hunt Quint (Shaw) to kill it, and the three of them go out to face the monster!

Jaws is routinely credited as being the first summer blockbuster, but when you see what blockbusters have become (giant robots with testicles and everything), it's a little hard to keep that in focus. The performances in this movie are really amazing, particularly Shaw's monologue describing the fate of the Indianapolis. The effects have held up pretty well; the shark humping the boat at the end is a little silly-looking (though it works perfectly well as a "not all men" picture) but there are some genuine jumps and tense moments. And it's shorter than I'd remembered - the pacing is good, and we get enough scenes on the island to get a sense of the characters without the filler that some horror movies are prone to.

My Grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium

Next up: Jeepers Creepers