Stories From The Making Of 'Jaws:' Fiasco On The High Seas 

By | June 20, 2019

test article image
Left: Bruce the shark. Right: Richard Dreyfuss feigns happiness during production. Sources: (IMDB; Universal Pictures/Getty Images)

Jaws (1975) has taken on legendary status as the first summer blockbuster and the film that launched Steven Spielberg's career. But it was a mess -- just a mess. Production on the film was beset by issue after issue, including technical difficulties with the shark, the lack of a script and Spielberg's decision to film in the Atlantic Ocean. A simmering feud between Richar Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw didn't help.

When Jaws swam into theaters in June of 1975 audiences were unprepared  -- what could have been a b-picture at a drive-in was transformed into a horror picture that redefined the genre while bringing about a new era of blockbuster films. No one believed that some kid named Steven Spielberg would make one of the most thrilling pictures of all time. He pulled it off and somehow managed to turn some of the crises into strengths.

The Shark Didn’t Work

test article image
Source: (

It’s a well-known fact that the shark, nicknamed “Bruce” after Spielberg’s lawyer, didn’t work. But it can’t be overstated just how much this failing effect irreparably altered the picture. At the time it must have felt like the film was ruined by not having the main antagonist of the picture in the film until the hour and 20-minute mark, but it’s clear that the tension caused by not seeing shark makes the film that much better.

Director Steven Spielberg later said:

The film went from a Japanese Saturday matinee horror flick to more of a Hitchcock, the less-you-see-the-more-you-get thriller.