Jaws ★★★★½

The first true Summer blockbuster, Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" would change the way studios released their top drawer movies forever. Extensive advertising and press releases would be the way forward, and as budgets grew, so did the pressure to bring in the bucks.
A simple but powerful tale of man against nature, this, as we all know involves a killer shark and his uninvited arrival to a Summer smorgasbord of swimmers and tourists. Filmed on Martha's Vineyard, the fictional Island of Amity is about to witness tourism carnage.The film has all the hallmarks of greatness, from the cast and performances, to the technical achievements and advances to create that "shark" , to John Williams's legendary score, everything works to produce something wonderful. Spielberg had garnered attention with his first forays into feature length films, but this would be the movie that elevated his stock. He made a movie that genuinely had you on the edge of your seat throughout. It worked on so many levels. Frightening enough to be deemed a horror film, it had moments to make you jump, especially that severed head falling from that damaged boat, it gets me every time. It also works as an adventure film, as an unorthodox crew of culturally different people set out with one common goal. Roy Schneider would lead the way as police chief Martin Brody. Making Brody have a fear of water was a nice touch and although he is the ultimate hero of the piece he's portrayed as an every-man with his own flaws and fears. Richard Dreyfuss was the only cast member with any real comedic experience and with Robert Shaw known as a serious and stereotypical bad guy, the witty banter on the Orca was surprisingly smooth and natural. It's without doubt one of my favorite scenes from the film and Shaw's account of the fate of the USS Indianapolis is darkly captivating.
As thrillers go, this is pretty special. The cast bristles, the tension is cranked up expertly by a director with real confidence and although the shoot was struck with problem after problem you'd hardly know from the finished product. I'd read that several other actors had been considered for the parts, but the thought of Charlton Heston as Brody or even Robert Duvall just wouldn't have worked. Lee Marvin as Quint though does makes you wonder?

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