Long before Steven Spielberg tackled the horrors of Nazi Germany or set out to save Private Ryan, he came up with the most captivating fish story since Moby-Dick. To be fair, pop novelist Peter Benchley made his own fair-sized contribution to the Jaws phenomenon, but it was Spielberg who transformed an entertaining beach book into a delicious epidemic of mass paranoia -- just as it took Francis Ford Coppola to elevate a trashy book about the Mafia into a timeless study of family values, power and deceit. The blockbuster of 1975, Jaws ostensibly starred Roy Scheider as a beleaguered resort-town sheriff and Richard Dreyfuss as a nerdy shark expert, but the real star of the show was a guy called Bruce (the cast and crew's pet name for the huge, animatronic Great White that chomps on assorted license plates and swimmers). Forget the film's three increasingly dreadful sequels, mere minnows all: The original Jaws remains, three decades after its release, one of the great action-disaster movies in Hollywood history. There's nothing like seeing it again on the big screen -- especially the part when the resurgent Bruce opens wide, devours the stern of crusty Mr. Quint's fishing boat and, without so much as pausing for the sorbet course, Mr. Quint himself. Jaws screens Saturday, June 3, in the Midnight Madness at the Esquire series. Landmark's Esquire Theatre is at 590 Downing Street; for information, call 303-352-1992. -- Bill Gallo
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