I read back over our Top Ten Universal films the other day and a strange feeling came over me, something wasn’t quite right, something was missing. I sat and pondered for a while and sat there in front of me was my newly purchased Blu-ray copy of Jaws. I quite fancy watching that again, I thought, and then it hit me! Hang on a second, Jaws, now what is that on the box? Oh damn, a Universal logo. Have we honestly written up a top ten list of Universal’s films and forgotten about Jaws! Sadly yes, yes we did, but I put it down to the fact that Universal simply have far too many films to choose from. So, please accept this Death Scene of the Week as a means to rectify missing Jaws off that list.
What I really liked about watching Jaws on Blu-ray (apart from loving every damned second of it) was the fact that it technically still looked the same as it did all the years back. Thankfully it hasn’t been cleaned up to look so polished that it looks like a new film, the rawness is still there, the authentic look. It does look cleaner, crisper, but it still looks old if that makes sense. Also, the new and exclusive to Blu-ray documentary “The Shark is Still Working” is a truly fascinating two hour look at Jaws from then up to almost present day. The documentary alone is worth the asking price.
Which brings me to the film and the all important Death Scene of the Week. There is no point waffling on about the films plot and all that nonsense because I can’t imagine there are many people left who haven’t seen this masterpiece. So for my Death Scene of the Week, we are heading right to the end of the film and the rather brilliant demise of outspoken, loud and way too much fun Quint (Robert Shaw). The Captain of the Orca, he has been hired by the Mayor of Amity Island to hunt and kill a giant Great White Shark that is ruining to tourist trade by eating the tourists. On board this boat are Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) and shark expert Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), all three banter, argue but end up having a mutual respect for one another as the events unfold on their quest to find the shark.
We get Quint and Hooper comparing strengths by one crushing a can while the other a plastic cup, Brody’s pleas for a “bigger boat”, the “show me the way to go home” song, the USS Indianapolis speech, Quint cuts his hand, Brody bangs his head and Hooper has no spit to clean his glasses. These three will be our only company for a good forty to fifty minutes of the film, apart from the mechanical shark named Bruce. There is incredible tension, and some of cinemas most exciting and thrilling moments occur with some terrific writing and improvisation from the actors too. Put simply, you do not want this film to end, but you know it must, and you know the shark must lose, but you know deep in your heart not all these three wonderful characters can survive.
Brody can’t die, he is the Chief of police so it must be between Quint and Hooper. Hooper (who if my memory serves me correct dies in the book) would certainly be a good death, and as he gets into the shark cage you believe he just might snuff it. But, Quint is the obvious choice. Such a character, such a huge presence no one could possibly go out quite like Quint does, and boy he does not go quietly!
As Hooper swims out of his now busted up shark cage (thanks to his own attack by the shark), Brody and Quint pull up the empty cage, and drop it back into the water a little flat. Hooper might be gone, and the two must face the shark, and kill it. Suddenly the shark bursts out of the water and lands on the deck of the Orca, pulling it under the water and poor old Quint slips right into the sharks mouth. Luckily he grabs hold of a machete earlier stabbed into the boat by Quint, and even through he plunges it into the sharks face, it has little effect. What follows is to this day, one of the finest monster attacks EVER put to screen as the shark eats Quint alive.
Stunning mechanical effects, a wonderful performance by Robert Shaw and a truly horrific site make Quints death one of the finest death scenes ever seen in a film. It is brutal, shocking yet totally worthy of repeat viewings. So please, indulge yourself, the death scene follows.
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