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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Jaws

Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw
Director: Steven Spielberg
Rated: PG
RunTime: 123 Minutes
Release Date: June 1975
Genres: Classic, Suspense, Action, Horror

*Also starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Jeffrey Kramer, Susan Backlinie, Carl Gottlieb

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Brian Koller review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Walter Frith read the review ---
3.  Dragan Antulov read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewmovie review

Review by Brian Koller
3½ stars out of 4

Dickie Goodman had a top five novelty hit, "Mr. Jaws", which mixed his rapid-fire mock interviews with answers that were snipped from contemporary hit singles. It began something like this...

Announcer: "We are here on the beach, where a giant shark has just eaten a girl swimmer. Mr. Jaws, how was it?"

Mr. Jaws: "Dyno-mite!"

Announcer: "And what did she say when you grabbed her?"

Mr. Jaws: "Please Mister Please"

I excerpt "Mr. Jaws", not only because it was a great novelty record, but because it demonstrates the cultural impact of "Jaws". It became the biggest grossing film of all time, eclipsing "The Godfather", and subsequently eclipsed by "Star Wars". Also making the top 40 was the theme from "Jaws", an imposing classical score by John Williams that succeeds in recreating the suspense of a shark closing in on its prey.

"Jaws" is one of the best horror films of all time. Most of the film is consumed by Chief Brody (Roy Scheider), his humdrum family life, his conflicts with the Mayor (Murray Hamilton) and his male bonding with shark hunters Quint (Robert Shaw) and Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss). But the film still has similarities to slasher films, with the aquatic version of Freddy Krueger scoring five victims in gruesome fashion.

What separates "Jaws" from its landlubber successors (the currently-playing version is "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer") is that the monster is more credible, the victims are not limited to comely teenagers, the script (based on Peter Benchley's bestselling potboiler, the screenplay co-written by Benchley and Carl Gottlieb) is much better, and Director Steven Spielberg is much more skilled at making horror suspense not seem like bad horror comedy. Of course, the cast is better as well. Scheider skillfully underplays, allowing scenes to be stolen by excitable Dreyfuss and salty Shaw. Hamilton also gives a great supporting performance. His character is in denial, hoping that the shark will just go away so that the tourists will return.

"Jaws" was plagued by production problems. The mechanical shark didn't work, and shooting on location on the sea led to technical difficulties. But the results were worth it, from both a commercial and critical aspect.

Copyright 1997 Brian Koller

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