best film: Jaws is the pretty easy winner here but Shaw is in, and is excellent in, one of the best Bond movies (From Russia With Love) and two best picture winners (The Sting, A Man For All Seasons). Jaws though is what he’s best known for and rightly so. The second half of Spielberg’s masterpiece is largely the Robert Shaw show. Jaws is a film that continues to grow on me over the years (about a decade ago I wouldn’t have called this one of Spielberg’s five best—which now seems ridiculous) and it’s a film that flirts with being in my top 100—a masterpiece.

best performance:   Jaws and the USS Indianapolis monologue. It’s a brilliant character and Shaw is up to the challenge. He begins with the nails on the chalkboard (hell of an intro), gets to make speeches, gets to be funny, demanding, monomaniacal—you name it. But, it’s that monologue that often gets pointed to by critics as an exemplary piece of film acting.

stylistic innovations/traits: He’s superb in everything he did from 1963 to 1978 when he died, far too young, at age 51. Shaw is a character actor (Black Sunday below in his archiveable films is his only true lead and it’s not in his top 5 performances) who chewed the scenery and stole scenes from stars (poor Robert Redford gets bowled over by him in The Sting and Sean Connery finds himself on the losing end with Shaw twice—in both From Russia With Love and Robin and Marian).

directors worked with:   Spielberg once in Jaws is the only big auteur though he worked with competent directors like Richard Lester, George Roy Hill, John Frankenheimer and Fred Zinneman all through his peak stretch.

Top 5 Performances:

  1. Jaws
  2. The Sting
  3. A Man For All Seasons
  4. From Russia With Love
  5. Robin and Marion

Archiveable films

1951- The Lavender Hill Mob
1963- From Russia With Love
1966- A Man For All Seasons
1973- The Sting
1974- The Taking of Pelham- One, Two, Three
1975- Jaws
1976- Robin and Marion
1977- Black Sunday