Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Duck Your Head Down, Chief!

Jaws - photo Duck Chief boat

And no, I’m not quoting the line of dialogue spoken by Quint, directed towards Brody, in the scene on the Orca when he’s hooked the great white, and doesn’t want to bonk Brody on the head when he swings his fishing rod around. No, I’m speculating on what director Steve Spielberg might have said to Roy Scheider while they were filming the town hall scene, when Quint runs his fingernails along the chalkboard and gives his speech about catching the shark.

Say what, you ask? Well, I’m going to warn you right now: if you continue to read this post, or if you sneak a peek at the photo below, you will never be able to watch the town hall meeting scene the same way again. You will never again pay attention to Quint’s “The head, the tail, the whole damn thing” speech, because your thoughts will be focused entirely elsewhere within the scene. Now, if you’re sure you’re ready for such a sacrifice, then read on.

A few days ago I posted an article for Jaws Month about six discoveries I’d made while watching Jaws over the years; six interesting moments within scenes or shots that might’ve passed you by if you weren’t looking out for them specifically. Well, here’s a seventh, that I only discovered because I was doing Jaws research on-line, and stumbled upon an article that enlightened me to its existence. Study the photo below, look for the red arrow, and tell me what you see:

Jaws - photo Duck Chief arrow

Yes, that would be Roy Scheider as Chief Brody, kneeling down in front of the desk when the scene calls for him to be behind it, trying to steer clear of the camera’s Panavision frame as it glides by the assembled townspeople. And what the hell is he doing down there? Well, according to the article I read, he was there to watch the camera for Spielberg as it tracked forward on its way to the chalkboard, so he could give Robert Shaw a signal alerting him to begin his dialogue! If you continue to watch, you’ll see Scheider’s hand come up to cue Shaw, from behind the gray In/Out basket that sits on the desk in the foreground; right then, when the hand appears, Quint begins his speech.

Has anyone reading this post ever watched Jaws and noticed Scheider scrunched down in front of the desk? I find it amazing that, after 40 years of watching this movie, I never once saw him there. Probably because my attention was centered on Quint…and, of course, on that guy in the gray suit seated on the left, who looks back and suddenly leans out of the way when he realizes he’s in the camera’s path. And to think I was pretty proud of myself for spotting what he was up to.

And now I have to wonder: what else am I missing throughout the movie? What other odd little jewels are buried there among the film’s 124-minute run time? I guess I’ll have to wait ’til next summer to find out.


4 comments on “Duck Your Head Down, Chief!

  1. tripirate1

    Well, I know what I’LL be doing on my vacation!!

    • Todd Benefiel

      I hope it involves watching Jaws in some exotic locale, while relaxing in a hammock on the beach with a cool drink in your hand! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. So right. I have to have watched this flick at least 25 times over the years. News to me. Makes you wonder about the other films that one watches repeatedly as well.

    • Todd Benefiel

      All those movies out there, and no doubt all are filled with little secrets like this one. Like that stormtrooper in Star Wars bumping his head…a classic.

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