It's been 40 years since "Jaws" first hit theaters and terrorized ocean swimmers everywhere. Filmed on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, the movie hit theaters June 20, 1975, and starred, from left, Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss. Click through for more scenes from the movie.
"Jaws" became the highest-grossing film in history -- until dethroned two years later by "Star Wars" -- and made many people afraid to swim in the ocean. Some viewers even told screenwriter Carl Gottlieb that the movie made them uneasy in swimming pools.
A then-unknown in his mid-twenties, Steven Spielberg (seen here in 1978) was not the producers' first choice to direct the movie. An earlier candidate was rejected after he kept referring to the shark as a "whale." Years later, it's hard to imagine anyone could have done a better job than the man who went on to direct "E.T.," "Jurassic Park" and "Saving Private Ryan."
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Observers credit some of "Jaws'" popularity to its terrifying poster, which showed a monstrous shark rising from the deep to attack an unsuspecting swimmer.
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Susan Backlinie played Chrissie, the shark's first victim, in the movie's opening scene. Crew members hidden underwater yanked Backlinie back and forth with cables to make it appear like she was being attacked.
Scheider, who was known for playing tough cops in movies like "The French Connection," was cast against type as police chief Brody, who is afraid of the ocean. Spielberg wanted audiences to identify with Brody's everyman vulnerability.
Marine biologist Hooper (Dreyfuss) inspects a captured shark which the resort town hopes is the one that's been terrorizing its waters. Local fisherman had no luck catching a real shark for this scene, so producers had to fly in a dead (and decomposing) 13-foot tiger shark from Florida.
The movie's second half was a battle at sea between three men and the massive shark. The mechanical shark built by the studio's props department looked fake and didn't move well in the water, forcing Spielberg to be more subtle in suggesting its presence -- a savvy decision that heightened the movie's suspense.
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In this scene the trio use a fishing rod in a futile attempt to land the shark. Shaw's salty Quint character was partly inspired by Captain Ahab, the obsessed whale hunter in Moby Dick.
In the movie's climactic scene, Scheider faces off one last time against the approaching shark. The actor reluctantly returned for the 1978 sequel, "Jaws 2," to fulfill his contract with Universal Pictures.