You know how it is hearing a song that has inspired other songs that came after it? While the original might be totally new to you, it feels familiar because so many others have worked off of it. I feel that way when I hear Beatles tracks I've never heard. And I feel the same about Jaws, which I didn't see until after I had seen so many imitators and even its own sequels.
This is the favorite movie of my best friend, who has no doubt seen it dozens of times. I came to the party relatively late and only sat down to watch it all the way through after I was 30. Despite all the bad clones and tepid remakes, I was still blown away by the original and the power of Spielberg's directing.
Roy Scheider stars as Chief Brody, a police chief on the coastal community of Amity, who suddenly has to deal with a giant great white shark attacking his swimmers right before the fourth of July holiday. Richard Dreyfuss is a marine biologist named Hooper who comes to help out but the team isn't complete until they recruit local crank/shark killer Quint (Robert Shaw). The three go hunting for the shark in hopes of salvaging the economy of the town, that relies on the beach tourism.
All the build up is nice and scary in this one. Before shutting down the beaches, we get scenes of people bobbling up and under the waves never to return. Searching for two missing fishermen leads to a great horror scene where their bodies turn up in pieces underwater. The famous speech about the USS Indianapolis is pure dread as Quint describes the survivors being eaten by hordes of sharks. Jaws is a classic monster in most senses: able to cross vast distances at will, popping up at ironic times and being super hard to kill.
I would imagine the only people who haven't seen this movie all the way through are those who only watched edited TV versions but I would highly recommend seeing it uncut. The tension and suspense are masterful. Hard to beat good old Jaws.