What Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho did for the shower, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) did for summer swimming. People still get chills looking into the dark depths from the shore, anxious about dipping their feet into the waiting hungry mouth of…boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Thank you, John Williams, for that Oscar-winning beast of a score; thank you, Verna Fields, for that Oscar-winning whiplash horror-flick editing; thank you, Spielberg, for some mighty effective camera placement; and thank you, Robert Shaw, for your creepy performance as Quint, the burned-out Captain Ahab-like shark hunter with a missionary’s zeal. Shaw brings quirkiness to the film, which until his appearance has a mechanical but effectively visceral quality much like that of old Bruce, the pneumatic shark. As in all good horror movies, he’s scariest when unseen.

Richard Dreyfuss hones his usual neurotic New York actory thing as he overacts a neurotic ichthyologist; Lorraine Gary worries and screams on shore; and Roy Scheider, full of righteous valor, is the everyman deputy chief of police who wants the beaches closed because of the safety hazard. Scheider’s career took off in the ’70s (his performances in The French Connection and All That Jazz earned Oscar nominations), but he could never cross over into the big time, even though he constantly worked until felled by bone-marrow cancer in 2008. His average-guy Martin Brody is always on edge yet in control, even when masterfully manipulated by Spielberg and his armada of shock tactics.

7 p.m. Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 713-639-4629 or visit hmns.org. $6.
Fri., Aug. 22, 7 p.m., 2014

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D.L. Groover has contributed to countless reputable publications including the Houston Press since 2003. His theater criticism has earned him a national award from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) as well as three statewide Lone Star Press Awards for the same. He's co-author of the irreverent appreciation, Skeletons from the Opera Closet (St. Martin's Press), now in its fourth printing.
Contact: D. L. Groover