Jaws (1975) - Illustrated Reference

Jaws was directed by Steven Spielberg. It premiered on the 20th of June 1975. Starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gray and Murray Hamilton. Screenplay by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb, based on the novel by Peter Benchley. Music by John Williams. 124mins.

Amity Island. A young woman is attacked and killed by a shark while swimming, her remains are found on the beach. Police chief Martin Brody wants the beaches closed until the shark is caught. Mayor Larry Vaughn does not agree saying that it was probably a propeller accident and that closing the beaches would stop tourists from arriving at the island. When a child is killed near the beach a reward is offered to whoever finds and kills the shark.

Steven Spielberg (1946-) had directed the acclaimed TV movie Duel in 1971, which was about a murderous truck driver terrorising Dennis Weaver. The film was so effective it received a theatrical release in Europe.

Producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown purchased the movie rights to Peter Benchley’s novel about a killer shark for $175,000. One of the directors they approached kept referring to the shark as “the whale” which irritated the producers and he was given the boot.

In June 1973 27 year old Steven Spielberg signed on to direct the film that would change his life.

Roy Scheider
Roy Scheider
Robert Shaw
Robert Shaw
Richard Dreyfuss
Richard Dreyfuss
Lorraine Gary with Roy Scheider
Lorraine Gary with Roy Scheider
Richard Dreyfuss, Murray Hamilton and Roy Scheider
Richard Dreyfuss, Murray Hamilton and Roy Scheider
Jaws author Peter Benchley
Jaws author Peter Benchley

Brody: You're gonna need a bigger boat.

Roy Scheider (1932-2008) / Police Chief Martin Brody of the fictional summer resort of Amity Island. Brody finds the remains of Chrissie Watkins on the beach and calls in marine biologist Matt Hooper to help him identify the cause of death. Charlton Heston was considered for the role.

Born in New Jersey, the late Roy Scheider had also starred in films like Marathon Man (1976), Sorcerer (1977), Jaws 2 (1978), Blue Thunder (1983) and 2010 (1984). He was Oscar nominated Best Supporting Actor for The French Connection (1971) and a Best Actor nomination for All That Jazz (1979). He also played Captain Nathan Bridger in the TV series SeaQuest 2032 (1993-1995) produced by Steven Spielberg.

Quint: You know, the thing about a shark... he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living... until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white.

Robert Shaw (1927-1978) / Sam Quint a professional shark hunter, he asks for $10,000 to catch the shark “for that you get the head, the tail the whole damn thing”. Brody and Hooper join Quint on his boat the Orca.

Born in Lancashire, England, Robert Shaw, a respected stage and film actor and novelist, received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actor for his role of Henry VIII in A Man for all Seasons (1966).

Shaw also played one of the best James Bond villains Red Grant in From Russia With Love (1963). Other films include Battle of the Bulge (1965), Battle of Britain (1969), The Sting (1973), The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974), The Deep (1977) and Black Sunday (1977).

Hooper: Mr. Vaughn, what we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine. It's really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks, and that's all. Now, why don't you take a long, close look at this sign. Those proportions are correct.
Mayor Vaughn: Love to prove that, wouldn't ya? Get your name into the National Geographic.

Richard Dreyfuss (1947-) / marine biologist Matt Hooper, examining the remains of Chrissie Watkins he turns and says “This is not a boat accident! And it wasn't any propeller; and it wasn't any coral reef; and it wasn't Jack the Ripper! It was a shark.” He joins Brody and Quint on the Orca to hunt for the predator.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Dreyfuss won an Oscar for Best Actor for The Goodbye Girl (1977) and was nominated for Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995). He received a British Academy Award nomination for his role of Hooper in Jaws. He starred in two more films for Spielberg, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Always (1989).

Lorraine Gary (1937-) / Ellen Brody, wife of Martin Brody.

Born in New York City, Lorraine is married to one time movie mogul Sid Sheinberg. She reprised the role of Ellen Brody in Jaws 2 (1978) and Jaws the Revenge (1987). She also appeared in Spielberg’s 1941 (1979).

Murray Hamilton (1923-1986) / Mayor Larry Vaughn, he refuses to close the beaches after the shark kills two people because it would scare off tourists coming to the island especially during the busy 4th of July celebrations.

Born in North Carolina, Murray Hamilton was best known as the husband of Mrs. Robinson in the 1967 blockbuster The Graduate before taking up the role of Mayor Vaughn. He reprised the role in Jaws 2 (1978) and has also appeared in WWII comedy 1941 (1979).

The mechanical shark used in the film was named Bruce (after Spielberg’s lawyer). The shark was always malfunctioning and Spielberg was deeply frustrated calling it the ‘Great White Turd’. But this worked to the films advantage as the shark was kept off screen most of the time generating much suspense and jolting the audience when it did appear.

It was a problem-plagued shoot which went over budget and lasted 159 days instead of the scheduled 55. The frustrated crew nicknamed the film “Flaws”.

Hooper: That's a twenty footer.
Quint: Twenty-five. Three tons of him.

The predator in the film is a great white shark – Carcharadon Carcharias – 25ft and 3 tons according to Quint in the film. A great white caught in New Brunswick, Canada was 37ft long.

In the novel by Peter Benchley (1940-2006) Matt Hooper was having an affair with Brody’s wife, and at the climax he gets eaten by the shark when it smashes it's way into his shark cage.

Also in the novel - Quint drowns when his foot gets tangled in some rope and gets pulled under by the shark. The shark heads towards Brody but dies from harpoon and gunshot wounds just feet away from him. Brody paddles back to shore on a makeshift raft.

Peter Benchley can be seen in the film as a reporter talking to the camera on the beach. Benchley’s dream cast for the movie would have been Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Steve McQueen.

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts was the setting for Amity Island. Martha's Vineyard celebrated the 30th anniversary of Jaws in June 2005 with a weekend-long Jawsfest.

Hooper: You were on the Indianapolis?
Brody: What happened?
Quint: Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian to Leyte... just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb.

Robert Shaw rewrote Quint’s USS Indianapolis speech and the screenwriters agreed that it was better than the one they had prepared.

The USS Indianapolis was hit by Japanese torpedoes and sunk in July 1945, 880 men survived the sinking but were left floating in the water for days before rescue came. Only 321 were rescued, most of the others were eaten by sharks in what was to be the worst case of shark attacks on humans in recorded history.

Lee Marvin and Sterling Hayden were Spielberg’s original choices for Quint. Marvin turned him down and Hayden was in trouble with the inland revenue at the time.

Richard Dreyfuss wasn’t having a great time filming, Robert Shaw could not stand him and there was tension between the two. But this worked well for the characters on screen.

According to the Jaws documentary on the DVD the shooting stars seen during night scenes at sea were the real thing and not an optical effect.

The shock scare of Ben Gardner’s half eaten head popping out from the hole in the sunken boat was added to the film after Spielberg saw people jumping out of their seats when the shark suddenly rose up out of the water at a preview screening. He wanted to include another scare earlier in the movie.

When the shark gets tangled up in Hooper’s cage the footage was of a real shark thrashing about. It was filmed by Ron and Valerie Taylor. If you look carefully the real shark has a smaller head than the mechanical shark used in the film.

The dinosaur like noise the shark makes after it’s blown up and sinks into the sea is the same noise used when the truck falls over the cliff in Spielberg’s Duel (1971). It was originally the roar of the gill-man from Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954).

Jaws is ranked #56 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Films list (Citizen Kane is #1). It is #2 on AFI’s 100 Most Thrilling American Films (Hitchcock’s Psycho was #1) John Williams score is ranked #6 on the AFI’s 25 Greatest Scores list (Star Wars is #1) and the shark is #18 on the AFI’s 50 Greatest Villains list (Hannibal Lecter is #1).

Jaws was nominated for four Oscars, winning three – Best Music, Best Editing and Best Sound. Nominated for Best Picture losing to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Spielberg was snubbed in the directing category, but he did get a nomination for his next film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

Jaws was a phenomenal success on release in the summer of 1975, the first film to gross more than $100m in its initial release in the US, going on to become the most successful film of all time, it was a global success. Shark mania was everywhere, people were buying posters, magazines, books, toys, anything shark related they can get their hands on. I still have Jaws poster magazines from that time.

Beach attendances were down everywhere, people were too frightened to go swimming in the sea after watching the film.

Three sequels followed Jaws 2 (1978), Jaws 3-D (1983) and Jaws the Revenge (1987) which is generally considered to be one of the worst movies ever made.

Hooper: [singing] Show me the way to go home, I'm tired and I want to go to bed...
Hooper, Quint, Brody: I had a little drink about an hour ago and it got right to my head. Wherever I may roam by land or sea or foam...

Jaws is an enduring classic thriller, still popular and on many favourite movie lists, mine included.

The Critics Wrote –

"Peter Benchley's bestseller about a killer shark and a tourist beach town has become a film of consummate suspense, tension and terror. The Universal release looks like a torrid moneymaker everywhere." (Variety)

"By far the best nature retribution film since The Birds. The fun and tension are constant, there are thrills, there are terrifying scenes and there is humour. First attack is a shocker and the entire boat sequence is nerve-wracking. Solid performances from the three leads give this film real class." (Danny Peary)

"May be the most cheerfully perverse scare movie ever made." (Pauline Kael)

"You need a strong stomach to sit through the film. It clenches you in its ferocious teeth from the second it opens and never lets up." (Daily Express)

“One hell of a good story, brilliantly told.” (Roger Ebert)

"Director Steven Spielberg caused as many people to stay out of the water as Alfred Hitchcock did with his Psycho shower scene. Today the film still stands as one of the best of its kind... the casting here is perfect, and all production credits are terrific." (The Motion Picture Guide)

“Maybe it’s just a monster movie reminiscent of all those ‘50s sci-fi films, but it’s at least endowed with intelligent characterisation, a lack of sentimentality and it really is frightening.” (Geoff Andrew, Time Out)

"Though it hardly merits its meteoric rise to the status of No. 1 box-office attraction of all time, Jaws is a perfectly acceptable, and sometimes genuinely exciting, entry in the disaster stakes." (Monthly Film Bulletin)

“The perfect movie for anyone with a larger-than-life castration complex.” (Woman's Wear Daily)

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Comments 36 comments

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

This is one of those films that I haven't seen and probably won't because of its goriness. There is some wonderful poster art here. As for the actors, Robert Shaw is my favourite of the bunch. He has stolen quite a few scenes, in my opinion. My favourite Scheider film is Marathon Man. I must confess that while I enjoyed Mr. Holland's Opus (wonder why-full of music?) that I've never been a fan of Dryfuss.

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Hi Flora, thanks for posting. The film is a little gory, but not excessive. You do get to see Robert Shaw getting eaten by the shark in close up. What a horrible way to go, eaten alive! Still, the film was rated a family friendly PG.

I'll watch any film with Robert Shaw in it, even The Deep. :)

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 5 years ago from The Garden State

Great hub about a great movie that still holds up well all these years later!! Voted up!

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Hey thanks FatFreddysCat, appreciate that.

For a while back in the 70's Jaws was my favourite film, and than Star Wars came out. :)

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 5 years ago from The Garden State

I have the 25th Anniversary Edition DVD of "Jaws" and still watch it once or twice a year. Even though I know when the scary bits are comin' they still make me jump to this day. :)

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

I've got that edition of Jaws too, it had a book packed with photos included. Very good value. Looking forward to the eventual Blu-ray release.

Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

I think Jaws was is said to be the beginning of summer blockbusters...I saw the movie upon release and think the accidental formula of suspense(due to problems with the shark) was great...did you see the show Mythbuster's experiment to decide if you could explode an oxygen tank with a bullet and whether it would explode or fizzle?

It fizzled,lol.;)

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Senor Spielbergo wanted it to go out with a bang. Peter Benchley hated the movie ending and tried to persuade Spielberg to go with his ending where the shark croaked just before reaching Brody flipping over on it's back with it's tongue sticking out... do sharks have tongues? :)

Thanks for posting Acer.

Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Great movie. Probably the best thriller/horror film ever made and one of the top-ten grestest fils ever. This one really shot Speilberg into the stratosphere of Hollywood. I think I've seen this film more often than any other film. (coincidentally, I just wrote about Jaws on a new hubh about the top 25 scary movies to watch at halloween.)

Great illustrated tribute to a great film.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Rob, much appreciated. I've seen your Halloween hub, good work. I never knew you were such a big Jaws fan. :)

Btw Jaws, Close Encounters and Raiders of the Lost Ark are still my top three Spielberg films.

Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

Great Illustrated Reference on a great movie. I think it took me almost 15 years before I saw this movie in the late 80s or early 90s.....but since then it has become one of my favorite movies ever. It is the type of movie that draws you in no matter how many times you have already seen the movie. There are some great books and DVD extra features on the making of Jaws as well.

You have included all the great lines from this movie...I like how you spread them out through the hub. All three main characters are awesome in their roles...I did not realize Hooper died in the book....I am glad they let Hooper survive in the movie. You mention the Ben Gardner scene...did you know it was filled in a regular swimming pool? I think there were only three people there when that scene got filmed....talk about filming on a low budget.

And finally it is a shame that Robert Shaw died so soon after the movie was made...I would love to hear his side of the story of who came up with the U.S.S. Indianapolis lines as there seems to be many stories of who should get the credit for that awesome scene....thanks for picking one fantastic movie...voted up and across the board.

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Cogerson, your comments and kind words are always appreciated. I'm so glad this film is still well loved 36 years after it was made!

Who could have predicted back then that a film about a marauding shark would become the most watched movie on the planet?

And than George Lucas took over the number one spot a couple of years later with Star Wars, another film no one suspected would become a phenomenon.

It was sad when Robert Shaw died, aged just 51, in 1978. A superb actor in so many varied roles including Bond villain, RAF squadron leader, German tank commander, Henry VIII, General Custer, the Sheriff of Nottingham and grizzled shark hunter.

Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 5 years ago from Essex, UK

Very good informative page Steve about a film which is one of my favourites. It's Spielberg at his best, and before he felt the need to pander to box office demands and make the film too formulaic. (In this film anything can happen - children get eaten, which would be unthinkable in his later box office smash, Jurassic park!)

Two scenes I particularly like.

First, the Indianapolis scene is just brilliant - a perfect combination of light-hearted banter, cheery drunken singing, gruesome revelations and suspense as the shark comes calling - it all hangs together seamlessly.

Second, I like the scene with the two fishermen on the jetty which is torn apart by the shark. It's not the most celebrated sequence, but the way in which Spielberg uses the floating jetty to show the location of the shark, and its change of direction as it turns towards the men - without ever actually showing the shark itself - is sheer genius.

Full of useful and interesting information. Thanks.

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Greensleeves, appreciate the comment.

Those two scenes are great. A sequence I like a lot, particularly the editing, is the beach scene leading up to the death of the boy Alex Kintner. Excellente

Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 5 years ago from Essex, UK

I would of course agree about the scene you mention - like Hitchcock at his best, it's full of little red herrings (before the big fish arrives) as you wait to see who, if anyone, gets attacked. And the use of the camera technique (reverse zoom?) is very clever.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

Wonderful hub with some great photos. I went to see it on release in 1975 with my parents and then saw it again with friends a week later. I've seen it lots of times still then and it still has the power to shock and surprise even when you know what's going to happen. Speilberg got the setting, actors, dialogue and music absolutely spot on. Voted up.

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Thank you Jools99, much appreciated. Rather than do a review on each of my favourite films, I thought I'd mix things up, facts, quotes, reviews and plenty of pictures.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

Well it works really well, interesting all the way through! I really enjoyed your matte-painting hub as well, I knoew nothing about that, amazing.

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks again. I'm glad you found them interesting.

rabbit75 profile image

rabbit75 5 years ago

I love this movie immensely as you know Steve, it's on my top 10 favorite movie of all time list. However, I didn't know of all the stuff behind the scenes and how the called the movie Flaws...and the mechanical sharks...The Great White Turd....hahaha...

PG family friendly? No wonder my parents let me see this movie at such an early age and traumatized me! Which is why this movie is so great. I really enjoyed reading this one as it's one of my favorites.

Voted up and awesome!

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks for visiting my shark infested hub rabbit75, once upon a time Jaws was my favourite movie so a hub was inevitable. Won't be long before I'm in the mood to watch it again... dun dun dun dun dun[STOP IT STEVE!]

Thanks for the vote.

rabbit75 profile image

rabbit75 5 years ago

hahaha...just don't hum the Jaws theme song when I'm at the beach...hard enough to get me in the water as it is...

pooilum profile image

pooilum 5 years ago from Malaysia

This is a real good movie site. Voted up and followed you

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Thank you pooilum, it is appreciated. Jaws is a great movie and a big favourite of mine.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Sitting in the theater watching that buoy moving and waiting...the beginning of one of my very favorite movies. I've seen it over and over again. The three main characters play off each other so well and add a touch of humor to a scary, sometimes gruesome plot. Your hub is excellent! You've covered the film, the casting, the making, all with taste and facts. Great job. Voted up and interesting and awesome for all your research. Thanks for SHARING.

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Lesleysherwood 4 years ago

Brilliant film. I was quite young when it first came out. Remember my older brother coming home and saying how gruesome it was. Such a shame Roy Scheider is no longer with us.

rabbit75 profile image

rabbit75 4 years ago

Steve Lensman does an amazing job on all his hubs.

This film launched Spielberg's massive career and rightly so...even though he was hesitant in directing the film when he was first asked.

Great film (actually one of the greatest) and they used all the technical difficulties they had while filming and twisted it to their advantage.

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Tillsontitan, share away, it's a free website. :) Thanks for the kind words, votes and comment. Glad you liked my little tribute to an old favourite. Much appreciated.

Lesleysherwood, thanks for commenting. I was shocked when I read Roy Scheider had died, so sad.

rabbit75, thanks again for posting. You know I can't even remember writing this hub, it's been 5 months already. :)

UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Another great review, Steve. I didn't even want to sit on the toilet after seeing it when it came out.

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Hoho thanks Harald the Unnamed, appreciate the comment. I couldn't even look at my goldfish the same way after seeing Jaws. :)

rahul0324 profile image

rahul0324 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

Another one of your epic hubs Steve about an epic film...Very precise on the details..... crisp convos you have chosen here... a delight to read

Awesome (not surprisingly)

ps: today is 26th and I have bought first day first show ticket to the avengers :)

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Lucky Rahul The Avengers eh... I think it opens tomorrow in the UK, I'll probably see it next week.

Thanks for the kind words on my shark hub, it is most appreciated.

barry1001 profile image

barry1001 4 years ago from North Wales

One of my favourite movies; a timeless classic. Very detailed hub. Voted up.

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Barry, appreciate the comment and vote. This is one of my most viewed movie hubs, Jaws is still a favourite for many. A timeless classic indeed.

Efficient Admin profile image

Efficient Admin 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC

Gosh, I remember when this movie came out in 1975. I was a pre-teen and we visited Pennsylvania in the summer to visit relatives and went to see this movie. My cousin Jennifer said she was afraid to get into the bathtub after seeing this movie. Later on I got me a Jaws beach towel. I've seen this movie I don't know how many times since its release. It is definitely a classic!

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks for the comment and anecdote Efficient Admin. I've watched Jaws countless times, looking forward to buying it on Blu-ray.

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