As legend goes, Steven Spielberg took an immediate shine to a script he spotted in producer David Brown's office. It was a simple pitch: a Great White shark terrorises a Florida resort at the height of its tourist season.
Nowadays such a concise bedevilment would be deemed pure Spielberg. Back then he was an unheralded whipper-snapper up to his neck in insouciant brine, irritable actors and a mechanical fish that just wouldn't play ball. It was the complete nightmare that invented the "summer blockbuster", launched the genius on a global scale and delivered an astonishingly effective thriller built on a very primal level: fear.
Somehow it all fell into place. The actors (Scheider, Dreyfuss, even Shaw as cantankerous quasi-Ahab, Quint) gelled; the script formed a precise three act chronology; and the shark was sensibly kept hidden until the very close. And John Williams happened to write the most impactful score in history. But one shouldn't discount the influence of Spielberg as director. Instantly dubbed a technobrat, he laces the narrative with tricksy delights - reverse zooms, fast edits, woozy oceanbound camerawork.
Jaws is one of the defining moments in his brilliant career. On a sheer cause and effect basis, it could be Spielberg's finest moment.