The Guardian headline: Don’t listen to the cynics, this is a masterpiece
Here it comes, looming back out of the water: a restored print of Steven Spielberg’s serial-killer masterpiece from 1975; a film that apart from everything else, invented the “forensic-autopsy-running-commentary” scene, delivered by a scientist trying not to puke. It was adapted from Peter Benchley’s filthier bestseller: a killer shark with the cunning of a U-boat commander is eating swimmers, and threatening to destroy the precarious prosperity of a US beach resort over the 4 July weekend. As a picture of pre-bicentennial angst, Jaws stands alongside Robert Altman’s Nashville. Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw are the three glorious hombres of 70s Hollywood tracking down the shark, whose presence is signalled by John Williams’s orchestral theme, the creepiest since Herrmann’s Psycho. All have something to prove: Dreyfuss is oceanographer Hooper, a superbly natural, utterly real performance, who has to show he’s man enough to take down the big fish. Scheider’s police chief has to redeem himself after participating in that contemporary political phenomenon, a cover-up: he withheld information about the shark to protect tourism. And Shaw’s grizzled seadog Quint is haunted by a chilling wartime memory. Don’t listen to the cynics who claim the shark looks iffy now. This is a suspense classic that leaves teeth-marks.