Jaws

The film Jaws was released 20 June 1975 it was inspired by the novel by Peter Benchley who was himself inspired by reports of several great white sharks caught in the 1960s off Long Island and Block Island by the Montauk charterboat captain Frank Mundus. Steven Spielberg initially found many of the characters unsympathetic and wanted the shark to win. Book critics such as Michael A. Rogers of Rolling Stone shared the sentiment however the book struck a chord with readers. Benchley also co-wrote the screenplay with Carl Gottlieb (along with the uncredited Howard Sackler and John Milius, who provided the first draft of a monologue about the USS Indianapolis) for the Spielberg film released in 1975. Benchley made a cameo appearance as a news reporter on the beach. The film, starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss, was released in the summer season, with editing by Verna Fields, score by John Williams and directed by Steven Spielberg who was credited with infusing the film with such an air of understated menace that he was hailed as the heir apparent to “Master of Suspense” Alfred Hitchcock. Jaws became the first film to gross over $100 million in United States and grossed over $470 million worldwide.

The film takes place in Amity Island, Where the grisly remains of a young woman who went swimming in the ocean are discovered. The medical examiner rules the death a shark attack which leads Police Chief Martin Brody to close the beaches. However Mayor Larry Vaughn overrules him, fearing it will ruin the town’s summer economy. The coroner now concurs with the mayor’s theory that the girl was killed in a boating accident. Brody reluctantly accepts their conclusion until another fatal shark attack occurs shortly after. A bounty is then placed on the shark, resulting in an amateur shark-hunting frenzy. Local professional shark hunter Quint offers his services for $10,000. Meanwhile, consulting oceanographer Matt Hooper examines the first victim’s remains and confirms the death was from a shark attack.

When local fishermen catch a large tiger shark, the mayor proclaims the beaches safe. However no human remains are found inside it. Hooper and Brody find a half-sunken vessel while searching the night waters in Hooper’s boat. Underwater, Hooper retrieves a sizable great white shark’s tooth embedded in the submerged hull. He drops it after finding a partial corpse. Vaughn discounts Brody and Hooper’s claims that a huge great white shark is responsible and refuses to close the beaches, for the Fourth of July weekend, when tourists pack the beaches.

Following a juvenile prank, the real shark enters a nearby estuary, killing a boater and Brody finally convinces a devastated Vaughn to hire Quint. Quint, Brody, and Hooper set out on Quint’s boat, the Orca, to hunt the shark. While Brody lays down a chum line, Quint waits for an opportunity to hook the shark which suddenly appears before disappearing beneath the waves. However the Great White returns later and damages the boat which starts sinking so they make for shore but the engine gives up. So Hooper dons scuba gear and enters the water in a shark-proof cage, intending to lethally inject the shark with strychnine using a hypodermic spear. The shark demolishes the cage before attacking the boat directly, killing Quint. Trapped on the sinking vessel, Brody is left to deal with the shark

The film spawned three sequels, none of which matched the success of the original critically or commercially, two video games, Jaws in 1987 and Jaws Unleashed in 2006 and was also adapted into a theme park attraction at Universal Studios Florida (in Orlando, Florida and Hollywood), and two musicals: JAWS The Musical!, which premiered in the summer of 2004 at the Minnesota Fringe Festival; and Giant Killer Shark: The Musical, which premiered in the summer of 2006 at the Toronto Fringe Festival.

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