Robert Shaw’s Best Performances, Ranked

Unfortunately, for many casual fans, he will always be the sea captain who was eaten by the shark in Jaws. But Robert Shaw was a respected and accomplished actor, novelist and playwright. Born in England in 1927, Shaw had a difficult childhood. His father committed suicide when Robert was 12 years old. A talented young athlete, Shaw chose to become an actor instead and began his stage career performing Shakespeare and Chekhov. He then landed a series of small roles on British television before his big break in 1956 as Captain Dan Tempest in buccaneers, which ran for 39 episodes and made Shaw a star in his home country. Now a leading man on television, Shaw always preferred acting, even making his Broadway debut in 1961. He was also busy writing books and plays. Her second novel, The Sun Doctor won the Hawthornden Prize, one of Britain’s oldest literary prizes. In an interview, Shaw observed, “I find acting much easier than writing, but writing is more important to me. I think as I get older I prefer writing, but acting is so much more profitable. ” Indeed, Shaw was still working, especially after rising to prominence fighting James Bond in From Russia with love, which launched his film career. But he was also notorious for his heavy drinking, and he died of a heart attack at the age of 51 in 1978. Here’s our ranking of the seven movies with Shaw’s best performances.



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seven Navarone Force 10 (1978)

Despite his success, Shaw was growing weary of film work by the time he portrayed Mallory in Navarone Strength 10, his penultimate performance and a film released just months after the actor’s death. “Money is not the only reason. But it seems that I spend more than I earn. I often wake up in the middle of the night, with pain and humiliation and a lot of shame at some of the work I do. did in the movies.” he told interviewer Clarke Taylor several years before his death. Still, it’s fun to watch Shaw interact with a young Harrison Ford straight out of star wars. Their scenes together are some of the best in the film.

6 Robin and Marianne (1976)

As Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin and Marianne, Shaw reunited with Sean Connery, an actor he first worked with 13 years earlier, as well as the legendary Audrey Hepburn. The film received mixed reviews, but Roger Ebert praised Shaw, writing “[Director Richard Lester] surrounds Connery and Hepburn with a fine supporting cast (Robert Shaw is the best, all grim and patient as sheriff), and he gives us a movie worth watching.”


5 The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

If previous roles hadn’t, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three cemented Shaw as a go-to player for chilling villains. As Mr. Blue, Shaw is terrifying as he hijacks a subway full of daily passengers, including children, coldly announcing “I’m taking your train”. Critics applauded the film, especially Shaw and the rest of the cast. Pelham is one of the few films to maintain a 100% positive rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Not bad for a film nearly 50 years old, and twice as high as its 2009 remake.

4 The Sting (1973)

As crime boss Doyle Lonnegan in The bite, Shaw had the unenviable challenge of playing alongside two of the biggest stars of the era, Robert Redford and Paul Newman. But Shaw has proven he can handle these leading men, arguably stealing plenty of scenes. The film was a smash hit, winning seven Oscars, but Shaw was overlooked by the Academy. Yet it was this performance that earned him an invitation to his most famous role in Jaws.


3 From Russia with Love (1963)

Shaw played assassin Red Grant in From Russia with love, his first major film role, and one that remains among his most memorable. The silver-haired villain from the second Bond movie was the first that audiences thought had a real chance against Sean Connery’s 007. At the end of their iconic fight aboard the Orient Express, Bond is breathless and bleeding, though he ultimately prevails. But Shaw’s impressive performance served as a model for many future henchmen on the show.

Related: The Best James Bond Title Sequences, Ranked

2 Jaws (1975)

Shaw is best known today as the experienced shark hunter Quint in Jaws, a role he was reluctant to accept. At this point in his career, Shaw hoped to spend more time with his large family at an Irish estate he had recently purchased. But just days before filming began, director Steven Spielberg still hadn’t cast the role. Encouraged by his wife and secretary, Shaw accepted and put on one of his best performances. In fact, the speech he gave (and helped write) on the USS Indianapolis was said to have been so powerful that Spielberg had to film it a second time, lest the scene overshadow the film’s finale. As one of three lead actors, Shaw was instrumental in the unprecedented success of Jawsthe film that ushered in the modern era of summer blockbusters.

Related: Jaws: Why The Original Blockbuster Is The Ultimate Summer Horror Movie

1 A Man for All Seasons (1966)

Shaw plays King Henry VIII in A man for all seasons, her most critically acclaimed role, earning nominations for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe. It’s also his most original performance on this list. While Shaw later gained a reputation for being tough, even menacing, and was cast as such, in A man for all seasons, he is noisy and often smiling. Sadly, he never got another chance to play that kind of on-screen role. Yet that makes this classic even more special.

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