Pop Focus: 40 years of "Jaws"

"Jaws" scared the bejeezus out of everyone when it hit the screens in the summer of 1975. But it did more than that -- the film launched an era of summer blockbusters that was to include the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" series, "E.T." and every other seasonal hit right up to the present with Marvel's "Avengers" films.

"Jaws" had, and introduced, all the necessary elements of the mega-hit: An iconic poster (derived from the cover art of Peter Benchley's best-selling book); the soundtrack (by John Williams, naturally); the catch phrase ("we're going to need a bigger boat"), the parodies and the merchandise.

I had a "Jaws" t-shirt in 1975, when I was in the third grade and spent hours drawing sharks. But I didn't see the movie until several years later. I was too young and my parents, wisely, wouldn't take me, despite my pleas. I had to make do with my t-shirt and the Mad Magazine parody. I think I may have read the novel, too, but can't remember.

I had a chance to see "Jaws" again, for the first time, just recently on the big screen in our local community movie theater, and it was a blast.

The film holds up remarkably well. It's funny, swift-moving and genuinely scary, despite having taken on camp elements over the years. We know what's going to happen. We know the shark is a robot. Yet we still tense up and jump and we still laugh at Robert Shaw's over-the-topic antics as Quint, and are sad to see him eaten.

So, here's a look back at the film, its marketing and mania. May it bring you back to the summer of '75, as well.