Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenwriters: Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb
Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Carl Gottlieb and Jeffrey Kramer
Plot: When a great white shark terrorizes the shores of a quiet town, the local sheriff forms an unlikely team to hunt the man-eating shark down, before it hunts them.
Catalyst to the summer blockbuster trend, to naming all great white sharks Bruce and to fearing them above all others is Steven Spielberg’s marine thriller/horror, Jaws.
Famous for nearly bankrupting the now top-bill director, the often-parodied horror not only changed the way Hollywood spent its summer, but it changed the world for great whites.
Based on the novel by Peter Benchley, Jaws is set in the seaside town of Amity ahead of the busy summer season. Newcomer, former New Yorker and water-phobic Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) discovers the grisly remains of a local girl, suggesting that not all is calm in the sea where soon hundreds of unwitting tourists will be swimming.
The money-grabbing Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) is reluctant to let Brody raise the alarm, insistent that the corpse fell victim to a boating accident. His only hope lies with a changeable poacher Quint (Robert Shaw) and a clean-cut marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss).
As more blood clouds the water, Brody must keep a clear head while keeping Quint and Hooper from bashing each other’s in, and avoid the rows of razor sharp teeth waiting for him under the waves.
Combine the tense plot with a perfectly suspenseful and iconic score from John Williams and you have a timeless classic that turned a picturesque beach into the iconography of nightmares for leagues of cinemagoers.
Never again will we see an animatronic shark inspire so many to hunt and kill great whites, which in a bittersweet twist only further pays respect to the brilliance of Spielbergs’ directing – and solidifies Jaws as the movie that made it “unsafe” to go in the water.