Jaws is a 1975 American horror/thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. The police chief of Amity Island, a fictional summer resort town, tries to protect beachgoers from a giant man-eating great white shark by closing the beach, only to be overruled by the town council, which wants the beach to remain open to draw a profit from tourists during the summer season. After several attacks, the police chief enlists the help of a marine biologist and a professional shark hunter. Roy Scheider stars as police chief Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as oceanographer Matt Hooper, Robert Shaw as shark hunter Quint, Murray Hamilton as the Mayor of Amity Island, and Lorraine Gary as Brody's wife, Ellen. Jaws is regarded as a watershed film in motion picture history, the father of the summer blockbuster film and one of the first "high concept" films. Because of the film's success in advance screenings, studio executives decided to distribute it in a much wider release than ever before. The Omen followed suit in the summer of 1976 and then Star Wars one year later in 1977, cementing the notion for movie studios to distribute their big-release action and adventure pictures (commonly referred to as tentpole pictures) during the summer. Widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, Jaws appeared at number 48 on American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Movies, a list of the greatest American films of all time, dropping down to number 56 on the 10 Year Anniversary list. It ranked second on a similar list for thrillers, 100 Years... 100 Thrills and was number one on Bravo's list of The 100 Scariest Movie Moments. The film was followed by three sequels, none with the participation of Spielberg or Benchley.
During a late night beach party on the fictional Amity Island in New England, a 23-year-old woman named Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backlinie) goes skinny dipping only to be dragged under by an unseen force. Amity's new police chief, Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), is notified that Chrissie is missing, and deputy Lenny Hendricks (Jeffrey Kramer) finds her mutilated remains. The medical examiner informs Brody that the death was due to a shark attack. Brody plans to close the beaches but is overruled by town mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), who fears that reports of a shark attack will ruin the summer tourist season, as it is the town's primary source of income. The medical examiner reverses his diagnosis and attributes the death to a boating accident. Brody reluctantly goes along with the explanation. A short time later, a boy named Alex Kintner (Jeffrey Voorhees) is brutally killed by a shark at the beach. The boy's mother (Lee Fierro) places a bounty on the shark, sparking an amateur shark-hunting frenzy and attracting the attention of local professional shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw). Brought in by Brody, marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) examines Chrissie's remains and concludes she was killed by a shark. A large tiger shark is caught by a group of fishermen, leading the town to believe the problem is solved, but Hooper is unconvinced that the shark is the killer and asks to examine its stomach contents. Vaughn refuses to make the "operation" public, so Brody and Hooper return after dark and discover the dead shark does not contain human remains. Scouting aboard Hooper's boat, they come across the half-sunken wreckage of a boat belonging to local fisherman Ben Gardner. Hooper explores the vessel underwater and discovers a sizable shark's tooth, and also the remains of Ben Gardner, which makes him drop the tooth in a panic. Vaughn refuses to close the beaches, and on the Fourth of July numerous tourists arrive. A prank by two boys involving a cardboard fin causes panic before the real shark enters an estuary, kills a man and causes Brody's son to go into shock after witnessing it. Brody convinces Vaughn to hire Quint, and he and Hooper join the hunter on his fishing boat, the Orca, to kill the shark. Brody is given the task of laying a chum line while Quint uses deepsea fishing tackle to try to hook the shark. As Brody continues chumming, an enormous great white shark looms up behind the boat; the trio watch the great white circle the Orca and estimate it weighs 3 short tons (2.7 t) and is 25 feet (7.6 m) long while Hooper takes pictures of the shark for research purposes. Quint harpoons the shark with a line attached to a flotation barrel, designed to prevent the shark from submerging and to track it on the surface, but the shark pulls the barrel under and disappears. Night falls without another sighting, so the men retire to the boat's cabin, where Quint tells of his experience with sharks as a survivor of the World War II sinking of the USS Indianapolis. The shark reappears, damaging the boat's hull before slipping away. In the morning, the men make repairs to the engine. Attempting to call the Coast Guard for help, Brody is stopped by Quint, who destroys the radio with a baseball bat. After a long chase Quint harpoons another barrel to the shark. The men tie the barrels to the stern, but the shark, after Quint harpoons it again adding a third barrel, drags the boat backwards, forcing water onto the deck and into the engine, flooding it. Quint is about to cut the ropes with his machete when the cleats are pulled off the stern. The shark continues attacking the boat and Quint heads toward shore with the shark in pursuit, hoping to draw the animal into shallow waters, where he will drown it. In his obsession to kill the shark, Quint overtaxes Orca's engine, causing it to seize. With the boat immobilized, the trio try a desperate approach: Hooper dons his SCUBA gear and enters the ocean inside a shark proof cage in order to stab the shark in the mouth with a hypodermic spear filled with strychnine. Hooper drops his spear and the shark begins ramming itself into the cage but gets tangled in the remains, allowing Hooper to hide on the seabed. As Quint and Brody raise the remnants of the cage, the shark throws itself onto the boat, crushing the transom. As the boat sinks, Quint slides down the slippery deck into the shark's mouth and is eaten alive. Brody retreats to the boat's partly submerged cabin. When the shark attacks him there, he shoves a pressurized scuba tank into the shark's mouth, then takes Quint's rifle and climbs the Orca's mast. Brody begins shooting at the scuba tank wedged in the shark's mouth, causing it to explode and blow the shark to pieces. As the shark's carcass drifts toward the seabed, Hooper reappears on the surface. The survivors briefly lament the loss of Quint, then cobble together a raft from the Orca's debris and begin paddling to Amity Island.