“Hey, have you seen this movie? What did you think about THAT SCENE?!” We have all used that phrase at one point during our discussions of movies with the other person’s eyebrows raising, “Oh yea, THAT SCENE!” You go on to pick that memorable scene apart by listing what you loved or didn’t like, how it made you feel and the impression it left on you.
In this series, we will do just that. We will take a scene from a movie and discuss its impact on us. Some of these scenes may be frightening, weird, iconic, controversial, hilarious and everything in between. Let us know your impression of the scene and the impact it left on you the first time you watched it down below in the comments. Enjoy!
*Warning: May Contain Spoilers*
Movie: Jaws (1975)
Scene: Indianapolis Speech
Director: Steven Spielberg
Characters: Brody (Roy Scheider), Quint (Robert Shaw), Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss)
After the partial remains of a lovely skinny dipper washed ashore on the Amity Island beach and is ruled death by shark, Sheriff Martin Brody decides to close the beaches. Mayor Vaughn won’t have any of that because it will hurt the town’s economy since it was peak season there and the coroner changed the cause of death to a boating accident anyways. Besides, they have never had issues with sharks before or anything. Brody accepts this and allows the beaches to open until terror strikes again. This time in broad daylight with a packed beach, a young boy was attacked and killed in front of everyone’s eyes. A bounty is placed on the shark which causes a surge in amateur shark hunting with the exception of one professional shark hunter who offers his services for $10,000. A consulting oceanographer, Matt Hooper, confirms that the skinny dipper was not only killed by a shark but an unusually large one.
Soon a tiger shark is captured that is believed to be the culprit with everything returning to normal, but Hooper and Brody don’t agree and set out to gather more evidence. They open the shark and find no remains while Hooper dives to investigate a half-sunken ship. While down there, Hooper finds a Great White shark tooth along with the remains of a local fisherman. Even with this evidence, the Mayor doesn’t believe them and orders the beaches to remain open with extra safety precautions. The 4th of July is here and the beaches are packed. An untimely and ill-advised practical joke by some kids causes unnecessary panic until a boater is killed and Brody’s son is sent into shock. Finally, the mayor is convinced by Brody to hire Quint.
Brody, Quint, and Hooper set out to sea for the hunt on Quint’s boat, the Orca. While preparations are made, Brody is in charge of throwing out chum to entice the shark to show and does he. Without warning, the massive shark pops out of the water at Brody with Quint estimating he is 25 feet long weighing in at 3 tons. Quint harpoons it with a tracking barrel but the shark is strong enough to pull it underwater. Nightfall hits and that brings us to our scene.
I get goosebumps every time I watch this scene. Easily one of the best speeches in all of movie history as Quint gives us great insight into why he is the way he is and why he hunts sharks. This is what we don’t get enough of nowadays. Three key characters just sitting around talking about old war stories one-upping each other until Robert Shaw delivers this masterpiece. There is more character development in these few minutes than the entirety of most franchises.
This scene is the proverbial “calm before the storm” and went through several rewrites till Robert Shaw, a writer himself, got a hold of it. He helped turned this speech into something great on paper but his delivery is what makes it a perfect soliloquy. It is the scariest moment of anything else that happens in this movie. Shaw’s performance and Spielberg’s direction are both flawless here but I love Richard Dreyfuss in the background. He goes from this jovial drunken person smiling and breathing heavily to quickly sobering up and fixated on Quint’s every word. Just like us, the viewer. His stoic nature in the background is an amazing touch from the director here to convey the true terror of this story about eleven hundred men being stranded in the middle of the ocean while sharks attacked them till they were rescued five days later. Only 316 made it out alive. But hey, at least they delivered the bomb.
Here is the speech for you. Reading it is just as haunting:
“Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into her side, Chief. We was comin’ back from the island of Tinian to Leyte. We’d just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes.
Didn’t see the first shark for about a half-hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that in the water, Chief? You can tell by lookin’ from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn’t know, was that our bomb mission was so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn’t even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin’ by, so we formed ourselves into tight groups. It was sorta like you see in the calendars, you know the infantry squares in the old calendars like the Battle of Waterloo and the idea was the shark come to the nearest man, that man he starts poundin’ and hollerin’ and sometimes that shark he go away… but sometimes he wouldn’t go away.
Sometimes that shark looks right at ya. Right into your eyes. And the thing about a shark is he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, he doesn’t even seem to be livin’… ’til he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’. The ocean turns red, and despite all your poundin’ and your hollerin’ those sharks come in and… they rip you to pieces.
You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don’t know how many sharks there were, maybe a thousand. I do know how many men, they averaged six an hour. Thursday mornin’, Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boson’s mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. He bobbed up, down in the water, he was like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he’d been bitten in half below the waist.
At noon on the fifth day, a Lockheed Ventura swung in low and he spotted us, a young pilot, lot younger than Mr. Hooper here, anyway he spotted us and a few hours later a big ol’ fat PBY come down and started to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened. Waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went into the water. 316 men come out, the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945.
Anyway, we delivered the bomb.”
What do you think of this speech and Shaw’s delivery? Is it one of the best speeches in a movie of all-time?