Sunday, February 8, 2015

31 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT JAWS (THAT NO ONE TALKS ABOUT)

Mondo Poster Art by Cesar Moreno
I need to find inspiration where I can, so I've been inspired by both Alex with So It Begins, and Sati with Cinematic Corner to come up with a the "top things I love about a film that no one talks about." I chose 'Jaws' because I've seen the film a million times and I still love it. It's one of those films that is so well known that most people can quote a few lines from it, Lines like--"you're going to need a bigger boat" or Quint's incredible monologue about the USS Indianapolis. Amazingly so many scenes in 'Jaws' iconic, because 'Jaws' is nearly a flawless film.This post will not cover any of those famous scenes. Instead this post will focus on some of the more subtle things about 'Jaws' that I love and I hope you will love too.

#31. Amity Island. Before first shark attack on Chrissy, most of Chief Brody's problems included strangers from Connecticut parking too closely to someone's garbage cans. Besides the deadly shark attacks, Amity Island looks like a swell place to live as long as you keep to the private pools. I believe that the real filming location is Martha's Vineyard. Very good filming location indeed.

#30. This haunting silhouette of Chrissy Watkins (Susan Backline) who is just about to become a victim of Jaws.

#29. The attack on Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backlinie) was absolutely terrifying. The actress managed to truly convey the horror of the situation. The scene had to be reshot several times because the actress knew of and could see what was happening. After several failed shots, Director Steven Spielberg made the wise decision to have divers grab the actress' legs and pull her under without her knowing when or how it would occur. The proof is in the pudding. The final scene is a genuine reaction and...movie magic.


#28. This look. Deputy Hendrick's (Jeffrey Kramer) reaction to seeing the remains of Chrissie Watkins. This one more reason why this film is so incredible-- every actor on this set just nailed it. Every single one. The deputy's look of horror sets the tone of what's to come.
I've gotta batten down the beach. 
[Deputy Hendrick to Mayor Larry]

#27. Polly. Martin Brody's secretary Polly was a another great background character who managed to fill up the scene that she was in. In one scene Polly was able to convey that she didn't know how to file properly and didn't want to find all of the water activities planned for the day. In other words, she was a terrible secretary with nice handwriting.
The 9 year olds have been karating the picket fences.
[Polly to Chief Brody]

#26. The sad foreboding scene between little Alex Kintner and his loving mother. Mrs. Kintner didn't want Alex to go back into the water, but he wanted to stay out a little longer. Unfortunately for Alex he didn't come back. Alex's demise and poor Mrs. Kintner's devastation after losing her son in such a horrific way was just heartbreaking. Yet another reason why 'Jaws' wasn't your average horror film.
Just 10 more minutes.
[Mrs. Kinter to Alex Kinter.]

#25. Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary) was the strong, loving, intelligent wife of Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider). Despite playing the "wife," she was never a caricature or a damsel in distress. She reprised her role in 'Jaws 2,' as a busy working mother--perhaps a sign of the times. She reprised her role again in 'Jaws 4: The Revenge,' this time as the main protagonist. Yes, the crazy sequel set in the Bahamas. 
When will I get to become an Islander?
[Ellen Brody to Mrs. Taft]


#24. This impressive panoramic scene of Chief Brody nervously watching the beach. This is the type of scene that Spielberg excels at. 
That's some bad hat Harry.
[In response to old man Harry telling the Chief that everyone knows he won't go in the water.]

#23. This scene
. I'm not a fan of looking at an old man's pimply back, but it's such a great shot because it illustrates Martin's increasing paranoia.

Marty I know you gotta lot of problems downtown...
[Mr. Taft to Chief Brody]

#22. Mrs. Taft (Fritzi Jane Courtney) wasn't originally credited in the film, but she has since been credited perhaps because of her brief, but memorable scenes in 'Jaws.' To Spielberg's great credit, he always allows background actors to shine with a few well placed lines. Whether Mrs. Taft was complaining to Chief Brody about the possibility of closing the beaches or explaining to Ellen Brody that she will never be an "islander" because she wasn't born on the Amity Island, Mrs. Taft stole the show.
Are you going to close the beaches?
[Mrs. Taft to Chief Brody]

#21. The stick figure drawing of the killer shark on the chalkboard behind Quint (Robert Shaw) at the Town Council meeting. It's almost as awesome as Quint's speech: "You all know me. You know how I earn a living. I'll catch this bird for ya, but it ain't going to be easy. Bad fish. Not like going down to the pond chasing blue gills or tommy cods. This shark--swallow you whole. Lil shakin', lil tenderizing, down you go. And we gotta do it quick. That'll bring back the tourist and put all your businesses on a paying basis. But it's not going to be pleasant. I value my neck a lot more than $3,000 bucks Chief. I'll find 'em for three, but I'll catch 'em and kill 'em for 10. You gotta make up your minds, you gonna stay alive and ante up or play it cheap and be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want any volunteers. I don't want no mates. There's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole thing."
Lil shakin', tenderizing, down you go.
[Quint to the Town Council]

#20. Richard Dreyfuss' nuanced performance during the autopsy. When the Amity Island coroner first examined poor Chrissy Watkins' body, he determined that she had died of a shark attack. After succumbing to pressure from the Mayor and the Town Council, the coroner changed his findings to a "boating accident." You can feel Hooper's disgust at the incompetence and corruption of the town leaders.
This was no boat accident.
[Matt Hooper to the Amity Island Coroner]

#19. Mrs. Kintner (Lee Fierro) confronts Chief Brody that he knew that a shark had killed someone the week before, and yet he continued to allow people to go swimming. Mrs. Kinter should have given the Mayor a slap too, as he was the one who overruled Martin, but Martin had some responsibility in the matter. So perhaps the slap was deserved. It was one of those scenes in which you felt sympathetic for both characters, 
I just found out that a girl got killed...and you knew it. 
[Mrs. Kintner to Chief Brody]

#18. Martin's young son mimicking his father as a way to try to cheer him up. Martin is getting drunk in the dining room after being slapped and confronted by an angry Mrs. Kintner. Spielberg has always been a director who works well with children.

#17. The dinner scene. Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) comes to the Brody's house uninvited with two bottles of wine and he eats Martin's plate of food, asking after the fact. It's a great scene that delves into Hooper's personality. In the middle of their conversation, Martin pours himself a glass of wine like it's orange juice, then Hooper asks Martin to go down with him to the marina to cut into the misidentified tiger shark that the fishermen caught. Ellen discusses Martin's irrational fear of water...which Martin curtly describes as "drowning." The scene ends with Martin exclaiming that he can do anything he wants, "I'm the chief of police."
My husband tells me you're in sharks.
[Ellen Brody to Matt Hooper]

#16. The vandals who modified Amity Island's welcome sign to include the shark. This was a pinnacle scene in which Hooper and Brody do their best to try to convince Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) to close the beaches. There is another great bit of dialogue from Hooper just before he descends into hysterical laughter at Mayor Vaughn's stubborn insistence that the beaches stay open despite the danger to the public. 
It is a perfect engine. An eating machine. 
[Matt Hooper to Mayor Vaughn]

#15. Did you know that Peter Benchley the author of 'Jaws' played a reporter discussing the shark attacks? Thankfully Spielberg is a better director than Benchley was an author. The novel wasn't nearly as good as the film. It's usually the other way around, but not this time.
...A cloud in the shape of a killer shark.
[Reporter to camera]

#14. Smarmy Mayor Vaughn giving an interview claiming that a shark "supposedly injured some bathers" is just too much to bear. Vaughn's delusional nature and greed make him the true villain of this film.
Amity, as you know means friendship.
[Mayor Vaughn to the reporter]

#13. The first time Jaws is seen on screen is right before this poor guy becomes a snack. One of the film's best feature is how little screen time the shark gets during the beginning and middle of the film. In a documentary about the making of 'Jaws,' it was indicated that Jaws is barely seen in the film because the mechanical shark Spielberg had contend with was a dismal failure and rarely worked. Whatever the reason, keeping Jaws from the audience for as long as possible was a good thing.

#12. Oh the 70s was such a groovy time wasn't it? Even the hospitals had cool colors. Mayor Vaughn even has a lit cigarette inside. As I grew up in the 80s, I can remember people being able to smoke in stores, government buildings, hospitals, and airports. Smoking indoors speaks to a bygone era--especially in hospitals. It's an era my dad (a lifelong smoker) surely misses. Oxygen tank explosion be darned!

#11. Quint's lair is so awesome. Hooper has the same look of amazement on his face when he walks into Quint's workshop that we all do. It looks like something out of the novel Moby Dick.

#10. The tension between Hooper and Quint is the best part of the latter half of the film. Hooper is a wealthy young kid from the Oceanographic Institute who sails with the America's Cup in his spare time. Quint is a hard drinking, foul mouthed sailor. They seem to be world's apart, but their relationship eventually warms during their expedition. The Hooper/Quint relationship eventually changes from one of mutual disdain to mutual respect. They are both "men of the ocean" so to speak. 
You've been cutting money all your life.
[Quint to Hooper]

#9. Chief Brody telling Ellen not to mess with the fireplace while he's away. This is one of the great things about Spielberg films-- the dialogue. Admittedly it can border on the cheesy, but sometimes the dialogue feels so sincere and realistic. This is the kind of conversation spouses would likely have with each other.
Tell them I'm going fishing.
[Martin to Ellen]

#8. Quint telling a story about Mary Lee. "Here lies the body of Mary Lee, died at the age of 103. For 15 years she kept her virginity, not a bad record for this vicinity." Quint was every bit a sailor, he looked like one and he talked like one. I know some people complain that Robert Shaw was a drunk, but this man was an exceptional actor. He even wrote the U.S.S. Indianapolis dialogue for Quint, which is probably the most powerful scene of the entire film.
Here lies the body of Mary Lee...
[Quint to...everyone]

#7. The drinking competition between Quint and Hooper. Quint is crushing a beer can with his hands, whereas Hooper is squishing a paper cup.

#6. Steely eyed Quint quietly looking at his fishing line being pulled by the mysterious Jaws.
I don't know if he's very smart or very dumb.
[Quint telling Brody about the shark]

#5. When Quint dressed Hooper down again, Hooper retaliated the only way he could.
You don't have the education to admit when you're wrong.
[Quint to Hooper]

#4. The scene in which Quint and Hooper are comparing their scars in the galley is a wonderful scene. This scene sets up what is (in my opinion) the best scene in the film, Quint's monologue about his harrowing experience on the doomed U.S.S. Indianapolis. But the scene that I'm referencing is when Quint tells Hooper how he received an arm wrestling injury celebrating his 3rd wife's demise (or as he says it "demeeeeese.").
...Celebrating my 3rd wife's demise.
[Quint to Hooper]

#3. This shot with Quint on the widow's peak.

#2. The reflection of Chief Brody looking at Jaws through the window. What a beautiful scene.

#1. The sinking of the Orca is just epic. In fact, it's so iconic it's been made into a poster. You could probably show this one scene and people would still know who film this is from. You have to give it to Spielberg, he really knows how to frame a shot.

23 comments:

  1. It's all those little moments that added up to a great film. Spielberg knows how to add a human touch to every scene.

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    1. He really does! Spielberg can be seriously cheesy, but there's a reason he's one of the best. He really is an iconic filmmaker.

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  2. dammit, that is awesome... great sharing moments. I know when they are singing "Show me The way To Go Home" and the barrel comes into shot... thank you for all the posts and time spent compiling the images, story and views.

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    1. Hi Jeremy! Thank you. I just love this movie. It's one of my favorite films of all time.

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  3. MsMariah this an excellent post.So comprehensive and perceptive. I am well impressed. It is a very good film. Your post makes me want to go and watch it again.

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    1. Hi Paul, thank you! I would definitely suggest a rewatch. I probably watch this movie way more than I should.

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  4. Just YES!!! So glad you did this. It's such a marvelous film. I've heard that Benchley's novel is lackluster, so I find it interesting that you mention that as well (no idea that was him in the film). So many great moments here.

    I really wish that Richard Dreyfuss had been Oscar nominated for this one. On many days, he's my Supporting Actor winner.

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    1. Hi Fisti! Thanks and thanks for the link on your page! Yes Benchley's novel was blah. I totally agree with you that Drefuss should have been nominated. He was great in this film!

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  5. So dig -

    I've seen this movie far too many times to count, and even caught screenings of it now and then (including once outdoors with my back to the lake!). But two summers ago, our big cinematheque here in Toronto brought in a brand new 4K print of it. A whole row of us had to give our heads a shake during a nighttime shot of The Orca. For a split second, we all thought we saw a red scratch go across the print.

    Then we saw it again, and we realized what it was:

    The new digital print picked up something that the film prints (and videos, and dvds) never had before: two bright shooting stars going across the night sky.

    Gotta love seeing a film for the zillionth time and still catching something new!

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    1. I do remember seeing those. I think I caught that after having seen this movie a few dozen times. The shooting stars! You reminded me of something that I should have put on my list! Great story. Thanks.

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  6. A wonderful analysis of one of my favorite films. My favorite points are the flashes of Spielberg's brilliance that shine through. What a master he was even then.

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    1. He really was. Rewatching this film really reminded of just how good Spielberg is. Sometimes it's easy to be critical of his later films, but this film was no easy feat.

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  7. AMAZING post here! So many great scenes that I never thought twice about until now...especially that opening scene!

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    1. Oh thank you so much! that opening scene is so great isn't it!

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  8. Great article on a great movie!

    There are a few lines me and my family use today. "He ate the light" if a flashlight goes out or light bulb burns out. "We're gonna need a bigger boat" when we are fishing, get a big fish on, and he comes off or breaks the line. Even little things will bring me back to this movie. Working hard, covered in dirt, sweating, and the supervisor comes by and asks when will the machine be up and running. She walks away and I either want to do the Hooper-to-Quint pinkies in the mouth move or usually I just think, "Come on down here and chum some of this ****!"

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    1. Hi Brian! Thanks for your comment. All of the lines you mentioned are great! I love this movie. Like you, I can quote it. The quotes you mentioned are some of my favorite. 'Jaws' quotes can be used in almost every aspect of our lives. You made a very good point! Thanks.

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  9. Excellent article - Jaws is such a fantastic film because of the things you mention. Thanks.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments! I totally agree!

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  10. ...what about the section where Quint and Hooper are comparing scars?...if you watch carefully Brody looks down to his own appendix scar as if he is going to throw that into the contest but then thinks better of it and pulls down his sweater...


    Jaws is and always will be utter utter genius - the only film that comes close is Unforgiven.

    Totally different genre but equally as powerful and absorbing!

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    1. That's another really good scene. There are so many in this film. Thanks for your comment.

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  11. Its not 3rd wifes demise. It is celebrating my third wife TO ME. This big Chinese fella? He pulls me right over.

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    1. I'm pretty sure it's 3rd wife's demise. I always have captioning on when I watch movies.

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  12. Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog jump out. Please let me know where you got your design. Thanks a lot gmail login

    ReplyDelete

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