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Jaws (1975)

Stay out of the water

Directed by:

Steven Spielberg

Rating: 10/10

Running Time: 124 minutes

UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

If ever there was justification for being terrified of sticking a toe in the ocean, it's “Jaws”. Steven Spielberg's horror masterpiece – arguably the director's finest ever piece of work – set the benchmark for summertime blockbusters and few have been able to match its sheer ability to grip an audience.

Roy Scheider plays Martin Brody, a New York police chief newly assigned to the small-fry holiday resort of Amity Island. Before long, Amity has a problem. A girl swimming by nightfall is killed by a shark and, if ocean expert Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) knows his fish like he thinks he does, then this is a big 'un.

Thanks to the head-in-the sand attitude of Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), the beach remains open for the sake of pulling in the tourists and, lo and behold, the shark strikes again. So it's up to Brody, Hooper, and weathered old sea dog Quint (Robert Shaw) to head out into the water and kill the beast. Suffice to say, they're going to need a bigger boat.

The pace of the film is perfect, with Spielberg masterfully allowing plenty of time to develop each of the key characters – most notably during Quint's memorable speech about his time on the USS Indianapolis. John Williams' classic score sets the tone of events – not shrieking, but dark and underplayed. And, most importantly of all, we rarely get to actually see the shark itself, resulting in Hitchcock-style suspense. Had “Jaws” been made today rather than in 1975, it would no doubt have been ruined by over-bearing and thrill-killing special effects – the fact that such effects weren't available at the time makes the movie all the better.

It's Got: One helluva set of teeth.

It Needs: To have trounced the competition at the Oscars.

DVD Extras "Making Of" documentary, deleted scenes & outtakes, over 700 photos, "Get Out of the Water" trivia game, screen savers, trailers, animated menus, production notes. DVD Extras Rating: 9/10

Alternatives:

Deep Blue Sea, The Deep

Summary

A terrifically acted, wonderfully made, suspense filled classic.

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