Classic Film Scene: Jaws


Great films appear every year and with them are potentially classic scenes that may become more famous than the film itself. The shower scene in Psycho, the chariot race in Ben Hur, the chest bursting moment in Alien, and the opera music sounding across the prison yard in The Shawshank Redemption are just some of the examples of the classic celluloid moments that we may be familiar with even if we’ve never seen the film. I’ll be sharing my favourite film scenes, some you will know others may be unfamiliar, but hopefully they’ll be moments you enjoy as much as I do.

Jaws (1975) – Brody Vs Jaws

JawsSteven Spielberg’s summer blockbuster from 1975, based on Peter Benchley’s novel, established him as one of the world’s best directors and he hasn’t really looked back since. The idea of an unseen threat picking off innocent swimmers without warning terrified audiences in the Seventies. However, shark attacks were not unheard of prior to Jaws. In 1916 a rogue shark killed five people off the shore of Jersey and the incident is said to have inspired Benchley’s novel. Jaws is full of memorable scenes – “That’s some bad hat, Harry,” Quint’s account of the Indianapolis’ sinking and its survivors, Ben Gardner’s corpse appearing from a sunken vessel and “Show Me The Way To Go Home.” For me, the best scene is left until the end.

Jaws is set on Amity Island and begins with a night swimmer being attacked and dragged beneath the water. Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) is first informed by the coroner that the girl’s death is the result of a shark attack. However, Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) persuades the coroner otherwise though the two men fail to convince Brody the girl’s death is actually a boating accident. Brody tries and fails to keep the beaches closed around Amity Island, with Mayor Vaughn more concerned about tourism than people’s lives. Despite further deaths and the expert opinion of a scientist, Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), that a shark is terrorising the island, the beaches remain open. Only after Brody’s son, Michael, is taken to hospital after narrowly avoiding a shark attack himself is Mayor Vaughn persuaded to hire a local fisherman, Quint (Robert Shaw), to kill the shark. Quint is joined by Brody and Hooper, who brings along various equipment he believes the trio will need beyond Quint’s fishing methods.

After Quint’s boat, the Orca, is badly damaged, Hooper plans to stab the shark with a poisoned dart and is subsequently lowered beneath the ocean in a cage. After the shark destroys the cage and Hooper narrowly escapes, Brody and Quint face a further onslaught on deck. The shark leaps onto the boat, irreparably damaging the hull and causing it to slowly sink. After Quint is killed, Brody manages to hurl one of Hooper’s air tanks into the shark’s mouth where it stays lodged. Climbing the mast of the sinking Orca, Brody fights off the shark a second time before taking up his rifle. In a dramatic conclusion, enhanced by John Williams’ superb soundtrack, Brody takes numerous shots at the advancing shark with each one failing to stop its approach. Only when Brody utters the famous line, “Smile you son of a…” does the latest bullet strike the air tank in the shark’s mouth causing it to explode and taking the shark with it. Brody is left to cheer and laugh at the end of his ordeal. Not bad for a Police Chief that hates the water.

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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  1. This is also one of my favorite movie scenes. Peter Benchley went to the secondary school I attended (before I did) and I have also been to the beautiful area of Martha's Vineyard where Jaws was filmed. The movie really is underestimated, groundbreaking for its time, and the final scene, as you describe, is wonderfully put together. I also like the scene with the USS Indianapolis discussion. Roy Scheider with an excellent performance as the police chief. Great post!

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