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Jaws (1975)

Universal.

Cast: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss..

Rating: PG

Run time: 125 mins

Genre: Drama

Verdict: Brilliant (see rating system)

Even after 32 years, I watch this flick and am suddenly afraid to go in the water...

That's just how it was when Jaws hit theatres like a Great White shark on the rampage in 1975, by turns scary, thrilling and amusing. It remains a high point in director Steven Spielberg's career.

It was quite an achievement in the circumstances - a difficult shoot, mostly on water and a scary-looking mechanical shark called Bruce that obstinately refused to work much of the time. The 29-year-old Spielberg made the most of the few occasions that the shark did co-operate, and when it didn't he made excellent use of camera tricks to persuade the audience into thinking the shark was in almost every scene..

The opening sequence of a beautiful young girl being taken by the shark is a case in point. We never see the beast, but we do see the girl being pulled all over the surface as if by an invisible hand, and her terror before she is pulled beneath the waves.

Scheider plays Martin Brody, a New York cop weary of the big city who has taken his wife and young son to the New England resort community of Amity, where he becomes police chief. Did I mention he's also terrified of being on the ocean?

When the mangled remains of the first victim are discovered and an autopsy suggests a shark attack, Brody wants to close the beaches right before the July 4 weekend. However, town businessfolk led by the mayor (Murray Hamilton) pressure Brody to hold off. Then the shark claims a second victim.

Richard Dreyfuss is excellent as the young shark expert Matt Hooper, who warns Brody that Amity likely has a huge Great White shark settling in for a summer of dining on swimmers.

Robert Shaw is also terrific as the testy old shark hunter Quint, a former Navy man who survived a Second World War Pacific Ocean shipwreck in which many of his comrades were devoured by sharks. The scenes between Scheider, Dreyfuss and Shaw crackle with life as the three put to sea to try and kill the shark.

A witty script, inventive camera work and countless jolts make this a winner. The 2-disc 30th anniversary edition, released in 2005, comes loaded with great extra features on the making of the movie.

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