Robert Shaw, his greatest performances – Jaws

Remembering the great actor and writer Robert Shaw.




Today, we are going to remember the extraordinary English actor Robert Shaw as Quint, (probably the greatest performance of his career) in  Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws”.



Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name. The prototypical summer blockbuster, its release is regarded as a watershed moment in motion picture history. In the story, a giant man-eating great white shark attacks beachgoers on Amity Island, a fictional summer resort town, prompting the local police chief to hunt it with the help of a marine biologist and a professional shark hunter.
The film stars Roy Scheider as police chief Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as oceanographer Matt Hooper, Robert Shaw as shark hunter Quint, Murray Hamilton as the mayor of Amity Island, and Lorraine Gary as Brody’s wife, Ellen. The screenplay is credited to both Benchley, who wrote the first drafts, and actor-writer Carl Gottlieb, who rewrote the script during principal photography.

Shot mostly on location on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, the film had a troubled production, going over budget and past schedule. As the art department’s mechanical sharks suffered many malfunctions, Spielberg decided to mostly suggest the animal’s presence, employing an ominous, minimalistic theme created by composer John Williams to indicate the shark’s impending appearances. Spielberg and others have compared this suggestive approach to that of classic thriller director Alfred Hitchcock. Universal Pictures gave the film what was then an exceptionally wide release for a major studio picture, over 450 screens, accompanied by an extensive marketing campaign with a heavy emphasis on television spots and tie-in merchandise.

Generally well received by critics, Jaws became the highest-grossing film in history at the time, and it was the most successful motion picture of all time until Star Wars. It won several awards for its soundtrack and editing, and is often cited as one of the greatest films of all time. Along with Star Wars, Jaws was pivotal in establishing the modern Hollywood business model, which revolves around blockbuster action and adventure pictures with simple “high-concept” premises that are released during the summer in thousands of theaters and supported by heavy advertising. It was followed by three sequels, none with the participation of Spielberg or Benchley, and many imitative thrillers. In 2001, Jaws was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

A girl named Chrissie Watkins leaves a party on Massachusetts’s Amity Island and goes skinny dipping. While swimming out near a buoy, she is seized by something from below; it thrashes her around and drags her down.

Chrissie is reported missing and her remains are later found on the beach by police chief Martin Brody. The medical examiner informs Brody that she was killed by a shark. Brody plans to close the beaches but is overruled by mayor Larry Vaughan, who fears that reports of a shark attack will ruin the summer tourist season, the town’s primary source of income. The medical examiner consequently attributes the death to a boating accident. Brody reluctantly goes along with the explanation. The shark then kills a young boy swimming at the beach. His mother places a bounty on the shark, sparking an amateur shark-hunting frenzy and attracting the attention of local professional shark hunter Quint, who offers to kill the shark for $10,000. Marine biologist Matt Hooper examines Chrissie’s remains and determines that she was killed by a shark, not a boat.

A large tiger shark is caught by fishermen, leading the townspeople to believe the problem is solved. Hooper asks to examine its stomach contents, but Vaughan refuses. That evening, Brody and Hooper secretly open the shark’s stomach and discover that it does not contain human remains. They head out to sea to find the shark, but instead find the wreckage of a boat belonging to local fisherman Ben Gardner. Hooper explores the vessel underwater and discovers a sizable shark’s tooth protruding from the damaged hull before he is startled by Gardner’s corpse, causing him to drop the tooth. Without evidence, Vaughan refuses to close the beaches.

Many tourists arrive on the Fourth of July. A children’s prank causes panic at the main beach while the shark enters a nearby estuary and kills a man. Brody’s son, who narrowly escapes the attack, goes into shock. Brody persuades Vaughan to hire Quint, and Quint reluctantly allows Hooper and Brody to join the hunt. The three set out to kill the shark aboard Quint’s vessel, the Orca.

Brody is given the task of laying a chum line but an enormous great white looms over the boat, and the trio watch it circle the Orca. Quint estimates its size as twenty-five feet in length, with a weight of over three tons. He harpoons it with a line attached to a flotation barrel, but the shark pulls the barrel underwater and disappears.

The men retire to the cabin, where Quint relates his experience with sharks as a survivor of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. The shark returns, damages the hull and slips away, then reappears in the morning. Brody attempts to call the U.S. Coast Guard, but Quint destroys the radio. Quint harpoons two more barrels to the shark, and the men tie them both to the stern, but the shark drags the boat backwards, forcing water onto the deck and flooding the engine. Quint heads toward shore, hoping to draw it into shallow waters and suffocate it. In his obsession to kill the shark, Quint burns out the Orca’s engine.

With the boat immobilized, the trio attempt a desperate approach: Hooper dons scuba gear and enters the ocean inside a shark proof cage, intending to stab the shark with a hypodermic spear filled with strychnine. The shark attacks the cage from behind, causing Hooper to drop the spear. When the shark becomes entangled in the wrecked cage, Hooper escapes and hides in the seabed. The shark then leaps onto the boat, crushing the transom. Quint slides down the deck and is killed by the shark. When the shark attacks again, Brody shoves a pressurized scuba tank into its mouth, then takes Quint’s rifle and climbs the sinking Orca’s mast. The shark, with the tank still in its mouth, begins swimming toward Brody. Brody shoots the tank, causing it to explode and blow the shark to pieces. Hooper swims to the surface and they use the barrels to swim to shore.

“The Head, the tail, the whole damn thing”….  is also another great acting speech by Robert Shaw as Quint in “Jaws”.
Captain Quint is one of the most iconic characters of history of cinema.   All movie lovers admire Robert Shaw’s performance as Quint in “Jaws”, directed by Steven Spielberg and no actor could have portrayed Quint as the way as Robert Shaw did.
His “USS Indianapolis monologue” is one of the best and most memorable scenes of the film.
and one of the greatest scenes of ANY film of history of international cinema.
And I am not the only one who loves this scene.   Many, many people from around the world also admire the “Indianapolis monologue” scene as well.
Quint’s Indianapolis Speech is one of the greatest scenes of film history.
And let me say that Quint’s death scene is one of the most memorable, horrible, scariest scenes EVER from any movie in film history!
In my opinion, Robert Shaw should have won an Oscar for this performance.
There will never be another actor like him, nor will there be another movie like Jaws, nor will there ever be another monologue like the Indianapolis Story.
Robert Shaw’s performance as Quint is the greatest of film history!
Long live Robert Shaw!!!!!!!!
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2 Responses to Robert Shaw, his greatest performances – Jaws

  1. robert says:

    Robert shaw made jaws what it is today

  2. Scott says:

    When I saw Jaws as a ten year old kid, the death scene of the character ‘Quint’ was terrifying to me. It had to be the most graphic death scene on film up to that time.

    When I look at that bit of film footage now, it’s still very impressive even by today’s standards. But what I realize now is that although the special effects were cutting-edge for that pre-CGI era and credit-worthy for much of the scene’s scariness, there’s a bigger factor.

    It was Robert Shaw’s acting. He MADE the scene scary. He was such a powerful performer that he convincingly acted like someone being killed by a shark. Mr. Shaw was a great actor and his role in Jaws might have been his best work.

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