Tag Archives: Robert Shaw

Film: Jaws

Jaws created a whole new sub-genre of movies: The Summer Blockbuster. It was the first summer adventure movie to be released simultaneously nationwide, and the first to gross $100 million at the box office. Uploaded by tdubel.com.

Since so many of my friends are either at the beach now or will be soon, it’s only fitting that we remind them about the movie that kept Americans out of the ocean during the summer of 1975. Jaws was not only a popular success, but it created a whole new sub-genre of films: the summer blockbuster.

The film’s producers selected Steven Spielberg (Great American Things, July 22, 2009) to direct Jaws before his first movie (Sugarland Express) was released. Turned out to be a very smart decision. Spielberg streamlined the plot line from the source novel by Peter Benchley, made smart casting choices, and overcame a host of technical problems during filming. The movie came in over budget, but acquitted itself quite well, becoming the first picture to gross more than $100 million.

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The linchpin character is shark hunter Quint, played by the brilliant Robert Shaw. His obsession with great white sharks helps drive the film. Other memorable performances were turned in by Richard Dreyfuss as marine biologist Matt Hooper, Roy Scheider as police chief Martin Brody, and Murray Hamilton as the timorous mayor of the island town Amity. And of course, Jaws wouldn’t have been Jaws without the memorable score of John Williams (Great American Things, May 26, 2010).

Before this, studios usually premiered their films in a few cities, and then allowed word of mouth response to build an audience as more theaters started showing the movie. Jaws was released simultaneously to hundreds of theaters, and became more than a hit – it became a cultural phenomenon. Following its success, studios shifted their big-budget action movies to the summer where they could capitalize on the added leisure time that the season affords.

Jaws was number 48 on the American Film Institute’s original 100 Years…100 Movies countdown. It came in at number two on 100 Years…100 Thrills, and its score was chosen number six on 100 Years of Film Scores.

I featured this video in the post honoring Spielberg, but it’s so great that I’m hoping you’ll enjoy it again…

Film: The Sting

The Sting won 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Oddly, as great as Newman and Redford were, neither won Best Actor. Uploaded by bam.org.

Paul Newman (Great American Things, May 17, 2009) and Robert Redford co-starred in two blockbuster movies, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969, and The Sting in 1974. The term “buddy movie” predated their partnership, and yet you’d be hard-pressed to find a better pairing of superstars than these two actors in these two movies. But if you had to choose only one, it has to be The Sting.

Director George Roy Hill used both of his stars’ strengths – Newman’s versatility, and Redford’s charm. But the biggest star of all was the screenplay written by David Ward. Ward had investigated con artists for another script he had underway, and loved the big con called “The Wire.” Everyone who read the script also loved it, making it easy to attract top talent.

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There were several excellent character parts as well in the ensemble cast. Robert Shaw was particularly strong as the mark, Doyle Lonnegan. The story is that Shaw hurt his ankle before filming began, and incorporated his limp into his character – “Ya folla?”

One other element of genius in this movie was the score, which featured ragtime tunes by Scott Joplin. They lent a wonderful period feeling to the movie, even though in reality they predated the time frame of the movie by about 25 years.

The Sting was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, and won 7, including Best Picture. Oddly, Newman was not nominated for Best Actor, though Redford was – and he was one of the movie’s three nominees who didn’t win…