Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Jaws (1975)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Jaws (1975)

In Steven Spielberg's summer blockbuster - his second-directed feature film - it was a realistic science-fiction suspense/horror-disaster film that tapped into the most primal of human fears - with the ominous, driving, menacing 'da-dum...da-dum' score (of cellos) by composer John William that brought on a great white's shark attacks:

  • in the shocking opening scene set on Amity Island in New England on the night of July 1st, carefree blonde Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backlinie) left a late-night beach party to go skinny-dipping and was devoured by being jerked underwater - prefaced by the shark's-eye view of the legs of the nude swimmer
Opening Shark Attack on Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backlinie)
  • newly-hired Amity police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) (transplanted from NYC) immediately closed the beaches, but due to the upcoming July 4th holiday weekend, the Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) insisted that the beaches remain open to promote business (and not harm the approaching holiday season), and pressured the coroner to agree that the shark attack was only an accident
  • as a worried and suspicious Brody sat and watched warily toward the re-opened, crowded beach jammed with vacationers, he personally witnessed the town's second shark attack; there was a startling close-up of his face (a simultaneous dolly-in and zoom-out shot) as he observed how a young Alex Kintner (Jeffrey Voorhees) on a yellow raft was bloodily attacked
  • to rid the town of the shark threat, Mrs. Kintner (Lee Fierro) - the mother of the devoured boy, offered a $3,000 dollar bounty to catch and kill the shark
  • during a meeting among the town's elders (with Brody) who assembled in a crowded Amity City schoolroom, Brody was overruled when the Mayor announced the beaches would only be closed for 24 hours
  • shark-hating, salty and grizzled fisherman-hunter Sam Quint (Robert Shaw) caught the tumultuous room's attention during the community meeting - noisily screeching his fingernails against a blackboard in the back of the room - and proposing that he would exterminate the shark for $10,000 dollars; he bragged: "You all know me. You know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for ya, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like goin' down to the pond chasing bluegills or tommycats. This shark will swallow you whole. Shakin'. Tenderizin'. Down you go. Now we got to do it quick. That'll bring back the tourists and it'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant"
  • during the frenzied search for the shark by amateur shark hunters, marine biologist and shark expert Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) arrived with little hope that they would succeed ("They're all gonna die"); he examined the remains of Chrissie in the morgue; he angrily pronounced: "This was no boat accident!...It was a shark!"
  • soon after, the shark-hunters returned with a tiger shark - and Hooper was very doubtful that the smaller tiger shark was responsible for Alex's death: ("The bite radius on this animal is different than the wounds on the victim"); the Mayor quickly planned to announce to tourists and newspeople that the crisis was over
  • Mrs. Kintner (Lee Fierro), dressed in funereal clothes, angrily and silently slapped Brody's face, blaming him for her son's death by not closing the beaches after the first shark attack: ("You knew there was a shark out there! You knew it was dangerous! But you let people go swimming anyway? You knew all those things! But still my boy is dead now. And there's nothing you can do about it. My boy is dead. I wanted you to know that")
  • in the evening at the Brody dinner table, Police Chief Brody was detached and guilt-ridden; Brody's son Sean (Jay Mello) copied his father's worried gestures at the table and kissed his father at his request: (Brody: "Give us a kiss," Son: "Why?", Brody: "Because I need it")
  • the next day, Hooper announced: "They caught a shark, not the shark. Not the shark that killed Chrissie Watkins and probably not the shark that killed the little boy"; Brody also worried that the attacking shark wouldn't go away if people kept swimming at the beach; after cutting open the insides of the tiger shark, there was no evidence that it had attacked Alex Kintner
  • during a nighttime search on Hooper's high-tech oceanographic boat, the film's most famous and shocking jump-scare was Hooper's underwater view of the severed head of fisherman Ben Gardner (Craig Kingsbury) (missing one eye) who suddenly appeared in a gaping hole in his sunken, damaged and abandoned boat; there was evidence of a shark-tooth embedded in the wooden hull, suggesting that Gardner's and his boat had been victims of a great white shark
  • the Mayor refused to acknowledge that there was a shark problem, although his ignorance of the problem was revealed when the great white shark attacked boaters in an estuary-pond, and another victim was claimed (while Brody's older son Michael who witnessed the attack narrowly escaped injury himself); due to the most recent attack, the Mayor was convinced to authorize the hiring of Quint (joined by Chief Brody and Hooper) to hunt the shark on Quint's boat The Orca
  • out on the open ocean, in a display of competitive strength, Hooper single-handedly crushed his styrofoam cup after Quint crushed his beer can
  • there was a jolting first full view of the shark one hour and twenty minutes into the film as Brody was throwing chum into the ocean: ("Slow ahead! I can go slow ahead. Come on down and chum some of this s--t!") -- his statement was followed by Brody's dead-panned quip to Quint after jumping back, entering the cabin, and offering his assessment: "You're gonna need a bigger boat"; Quint estimated that the shark was 25 feet in length and weighed 3 tons
  • during their first evening on the boat, they experienced a memorable drunken night of story-swapping (about scars); WWII veteran Quint descriptively recalled the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the subsequent grisly shark attacks upon survivors in the water: ("Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin'. So we formed ourselves into tight groups. You know, it was kinda like old squares in the battle like that you see in the calendar named 'The Battle of Waterloo.' And the idea was, the shark comes to the nearest man and he starts poundin' and hollerin' and screamin'. Sometimes the shark go away. Sometimes he wouldn't go away. Sometimes that shark, he looks right into ya, right into your eyes. Y'know, the thing about a shark, he's got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eyes. When he comes after ya, he doesn't seem to be livin' until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white, and then - aww, then you hear that terrible high-pitch screamin', the ocean turns red, and in spite of all the poundin' and the hollerin', they all come in and rip ya to pieces....So, eleven hundred men went in the water, three hundred and sixteen men come out, and the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb")
  • in the lengthy finale, there was a monumental battle with the shark from The Orca, that had been rammed by the great white shark; the strategy was to harpoon the shark with ropes attached to heavy yellow barrels, to both tire out the creature and to tracks its location
  • the shark ate one of the lines, pulled the ship around, and towed the Orca backwards, filling the stern of the ship (and the engine compartments) with water; as the boat lost its engine power and began to sink and break up as it perilously listed, Hooper made a failed attempt to lethally inject the shark with toxic strychnine from a protective shark-proof cage placed underwater; the cage was battered and twisted by repeated rammings, forcing Hooper to abandon the cage and hide behind an underwater rock
  • meanwhile, the Giant Great White jumped onto the stern of The Orca, and tilted the sinking boat, leading to Quint's memorable death scene as he slid down the slippery deck directly into the shark's mouth while being bitten in half and stabbing at its eyes with a machete
The Death of Quint in Shark's Jaws After the Great White Jumped onto The Orca's Stern
  • on the fast sinking boat, Brody was face to face with the killer shark; he tossed one of Hooper's compressed air tank cylinders into the monster's mouth; he then grabbed a rifle and from the crow's nest of the almost-submerged vessel, Brody aimed at the oxygen tank that the shark had gripped in its jaws; he aimed and taunted the shark: ("Show me the tank...Smile, ya son-of-a-bitch"); his rifle shot hit its target, causing a massive explosion
The Explosive End of the Great White Shark
  • as the film concluded, Brody and Hooper hand-paddled back to Amity Island's shore on the yellow barrels (a makeshift raft), quipping with the film's last-lines: (Brody: "I used to hate the water," with Hooper's reply "I can't imagine why")

Closeup Smash-Zoom of the Face of Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider)

The Shocking Shark Attack on Alex Kintner Witnessed by Chief Brody

Brody with Young Son Sean (Jay Mello) at Dinner Table

Jump Scare - Underwater Floating Head of Fisherman Ben Gardner in His Shark-Crushed Boat

Hooper's Crushing of Styrofoam Cup To Be Competitive with Quint

First View of Shark Behind Brody

Brody: "You're gonna need a bigger boat"

Old Seafaring Quint's Recollections of the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z