Jaws (1975) Released: June 20, 1975 It is no exaggeration to say Jaws was a phenomena when it was released. It became the highest grossing film of the time; it ushered in the "summer blockbuster" mentality; it did for the ocean what Psycho had done for showers; and confirmed a major (relatively) new director had arrived. In spite of all the behind-the-scenes challenges director Steven Spielberg delivered the perfect popcorn movie and then some. Jaws remains as exhilarating a film experience today as it was almost thirty years ago. In the Cape Cod-like town of Amity, a few days before the Fourth of July holiday, a body is discovered on the beach, apparently the victim of a shark attack. Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) initially bows to political pressure to keep the beach open for the all-important summer tourist trade. But after more attacks, Brody hires a grizzled seaman named Quint (Robert Shaw) to hunt down and kill the beast. The two men, along with shark expert Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), head out to sea to face down the great white shark before it can claim any more victims. Essentially a sea-bound variation on the director's previous Duel, Jaws is a near-perfect balancing of suspense and thrills, with enough humor thrown in to keep land-bound scenes from suffering in comparison to those involving the shark. Spielberg makes the best of a bad situation (the shark kept malfunctioning so it is not seen as much as originally intended) by structuring the first couple of acts like the myriad sci-fi thrillers of the 1950s that teased the audience before revealing the "beast." The fist attack is shot mostly above water with the victim being pulled along by the shark. The second attack is shown via bloody, shredded raft and a crowds horrified reaction. A third sequence indicates the shark is about to attack when the broken piece of a pier attached to the shark suddenly turns 180 degrees. All of the build-up leads to a perfectly executed reveal, as the shark emerges from the water as Brody is chumming. From then on the film is virtually a non-stop action-thriller, as the heroic trio try to combat what was clearly an underestimated foe. While Brody is the most fleshed out character, given a family and background, both Hooper and Quint are given just enough back story (Hooper tells of his first shark encounter, Quint recounts his horrifying experience during World War II after being aboard the ship that delivered the atomic bomb) so they don't become two-dimensional stereotypes. Fine support is given by Lorraine Gary as Brody's wife and Murray Hamilton as the ineffectual mayor. Add to all of the above John Williams' Oscar-winning, iconic score and you get the perfect summer entertainment. Jaws landed a Best Picture nomination, as well as Oscar wins for editing and sound, but Spielberg failed to get a nomination for his direction. Interestingly enough, that situation would be reversed for his next film.