‘Jaws’ gives Netflix extra bite

Streaming service offers classic shark thriller and its three sequels


Summer is over, but a certain movie still generates fear of going back in the water anytime. The monstrous success of “Jaws” put director Steven Spielberg on the map … and the 1975 classic currently is streaming on Netflix, along with its three sequels. The picture’s legendary production problems, which included a malfunctioning mechanical “shark,” provide a lesson in how the result of seemingly troubled filmmaking still can succeed.

In the adaptation of Peter Benchley’s bestseller, the gruesome death of a moonlight swimmer causes concern among residents and officials of tourist-supported Amity Island. Eventually, the sheriff, a shark expert and a local shark hunter (Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw) join forces to go to sea to find and eliminate the recurring threat. The pursuit is thrilling and involving, backed by a brilliant John Williams score incorporating one of the most famous themes in screen history.

Other Retro Rewinds:

“Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” (HBO Max, streaming): 

Television has had various incarnations of the saga of the Man of Steel, but this arguably is the most lighthearted take to date, boasting a terrific portrayal of Lois Lane by Teri Hatcher … who didn’t get enough credit for her great comedic timing, which also did much to service Dean Cain’s work as Clark Kent/Superman. Also highly enjoyable is Lane Smith as boss Perry White.

“Good Times” (getTV, Monday, Sept. 27):

It was unusual for a 1970s sitcom to do a four-part episode, but “Florida’s Homecoming” — the sixth-season opener, shown in full on this day — marked the return of series star Esther Rolle. She left the show after Season 4, upset over several creative decisions; her return here generated a big story for her character Florida Evans, largely involving her take on daughter Thelma’s (BernNadette Stanis) decision to get married.

“Halloween” (AMC, Friday, Oct. 1, and Saturday, Oct. 2):

Is there a more appropriate way to start October than with director John Carpenter’s original 1978 scare fest? We don’t think so. Jamie Lee Curtis became a star as the babysitter stalked by murderous Michael Myers — who, in turn, is tracked by his psychiatrist (Donald Pleasence) — and it’s worth noting that Carpenter also composed the famously minimalist music score.

“Black Sunday” (Turner Classic Movies, Friday, Oct. 1):

Rarely shown now, director John Frankenheimer’s first-rate 1977 thriller puts an Israeli intelligence agent (Robert Shaw, again) on the trail of a terrorist (Marthe Keller) who seduces a blimp pilot into helping with her plan to commit mayhem at the Super Bowl. Filmed by veteran cinematographer John A. Alonzo (being saluted by TCM on this night), the climactic scenes at the big game are alarmingly realistic.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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