Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gray, Murray Hamilton
In 1974, novelist Peter Benchley's Jaws emerged as a best seller, an unlikely thriller about a killer great white shark and the few men brave enough to battle it. As an enjoyable page-turner, Benchley's book works just fine, but it wasn't until Steven Spielberg endured a hellish shoot to complete his 1975 blockbuster adaptation that the homicidal fish officially earned its scary stripes.
Mostly kept off the screen-the unintended result of the animatronic shark's steady malfunctions on set-Spielberg's underwater antagonist strikes fear in viewers' bone through mere suggestion, be it a camera shot beneath swimmers' dangling legs or composer John Williams' iconic score. When Jaws does finally show his face and razor-sharp teeth, so to speak, the shocks are ferocious. —MB