Cinema Monolith

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

Top 5 Favorite Jaws Moments

Jaws - photo chum

#1 – The Shark Surprises Brody

This, in my opinion, is the most perfectly executed shot of the whole movie: a peaceful lull in the action aboard the Orca, Brody throwing chum into the water, and while your concentration is on his humorous line, “Slow ahead? I can go slow ahead…come on down and chum some of this shit,” suddenly WHOOSH! comes a shark’s head out of the boat’s wake into the frame, scaring the living jujubes out of every person in the theater. It’s the movie’s first true jolt, and first look at the shark, and it’s immediately followed by another great shot of Brody suddenly standing bolt upright and staring shell-shocked into the water as the shark slowly slides back down beneath the waves. We then get Roy Scheider’s famous ad-libbed quote to Quint—”You’re gonna need a bigger boat”—to round out the moment.

#2 – The Orca Heads Out to Sea

Jaws - photo jawsThis one shot says it all: the Orca heads out to sea with our three leads on-board, ready to do battle with the great white shark…the part of the movie we’ve all been waiting for. The camera is inside Quint’s shack, and pushes forward towards a set of shark jaws hung in front of a window as the boat glides away towards the Atlantic. What I love is that the camera angle gives the impression the Orca is heading right into the jaws of the shark; I just wish Spielberg had remained with the shot for a bit longer than he did, to allow the Orca to arrive dead-center in the middle of the ‘mouth’. Instead, it cuts away a few seconds too soon. Oh well…it’s still a cool shot.

#3 – Quint Studies the Reel

Jaws - photo QuintA very well-done sequence, expertly bringing actor, camera, and John Williams’ score together to create one very intense moment. Once again, things are peaceful and quiet aboard the Orca, where Quint is sitting in the ‘fighting chair’ with the rod and reel next to him. Then, very slowly and quietly—tick…tick…tick—the line on the reel begins to play out, unbeknownst to anyone but Quint. He studies the line for a few moments, then carefully begins to slide into his harness, set the rod into the cup, lock his harness to the reel, and get settled into the chair, ready to take on whatever’s at the other end of the line. Each movement is accompanied by a low, ominous thrum of music from Williams, adding to the tension.

#4 – Hooper Sees What’s Left of Chrissie

Jaws - photo medicalChief Brody, Hooper, and the town’s medical examiner are about to take a look at the remains of Chrissie, the first shark attack victim. Watch Hooper’s face as he notices the small tub the doctor is carrying to the table, realizing in that moment that what’s inside is all that’s left of the unfortunate swimmer; Richard Dreyfuss plays it subtle, and it works beautifully. He then pulls away the tub’s cover, and though we don’t see what’s inside there, he does. Again, the look on his face, and the fact that his breathing visibly becomes more rapid; Brody and the ME are no doubt used to this sort of thing, but Hooper definitely is not. Kudos too to the actor playing the ME, Martha’s Vineyard resident Robert Nevin, who I think does a great job of looking uncomfortable and guilty when he’s scolded by Hooper.

#5 – Brody and Hooper Paddle to Shore

Jaws - photo paddleThe shark has been defeated, Brody and Hooper are alive, and both grab onto a rope connecting two floating yellow barrels and begin kicking towards shore as seagulls feast on the shark’s innards—potato chips, actually—on the water in front of them. What I like about this scene is the exchange of dialogue between Brody and Hooper as they paddle: Brody mentions that the tide is with them, then chuckles and says, “I used to hate the water,” and Hooper replies, “I can’t imagine why.” I think it’s such a cool line, and a neat way to bring to a close the characters’ story, and the end of the film.

Three Other Favorite Moments from Jaws

Quint scratches the chalkboard and makes his offer.
The conversation between Brody, Hooper, and Mayor Vaughn at the billboard.
And of course, Ben Gardner’s head.

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14 comments on “Top 5 Favorite Jaws Moments

  1. All great moments! I think we are all fond of #1! Altho in your case, after 100s of viewings – you probably scare Bruce! More good stuff Todd – thanks!

    • Todd B
      8/3/16

      Yeah, I would think #1 would be the most popular among discriminating Jaws fans…but Quint’s fishing reel and Ben Gardner’s head get some votes, too, as you can see below. And I scare Bruce? What are you suggesting, missy!

  2. Dracula
    8/2/16

    The reel is what I remember most. The tick, tick, tick, whisssssssssssssshhhhhhh. Reminds me of my fishing days as a youth when the reel would make the same noise, pole would bend, hook is set and I fight the battle for a half an hour and reel in the half pound trout that needs to be thrown back as it does not meet size restrictions. Nice post as usual, keep up the good work and don’t post the sign on your blog “gone fishing” we miss your updates!

    • Todd B
      8/3/16

      Hey Mr. Impaler, welcome to the club, finally, and thanks for checking in! You remember trout, I remember bluegill…neither of which were ever big enough to make a half-sandwich out of. As for ‘gone fishing’, I don’t think I’ve gone since 1979, with Bob on the Yakima River in Washington. So trust me, there will be no more sabbaticals…hopefully one or two posts a week from now on. Say hi to Lady Dracula and Son of Dracula for me!

      • Dracula
        8/6/16

        Transylvania…So as they say “When in Rome”…So along came Dracula…And has there been a Lady Dracula or Son of Dracula film since you are the expert on our Sighisoara friend?

      • Todd B
        8/6/16

        There actually is a Son of Dracula, and a Lady Frankenstein, but sadly no Spouse of Dracula. Although, there are such near-miss titles as Dracula’s Daughter, Brides of Dracula, and Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride. And Vampyros Lesbos, if you care to go that route.

  3. Kelly B.
    8/3/16

    Yes! Ben Gardner’s head! You took me to see this film when I was 10 years old. I was so startled by the head I lept up and was sitting on the top of the seat.

    You nailed it with these scenes, dear brother. Even as a young girl, the final scene stayed with me.

    Sadly, I still can’t get my husband to watch this film. I may seek an attorney…

    • Todd B
      8/3/16

      I remember taking you way back when, over to the Crossroads Quad Cinemas! You and about five million other 10-to-90-year-olds were startled by that head; too bad we missed the show over here at the Arrowhead a few weeks back…maybe next year. As for your husband: perhaps a psychiatrist who specializes in cinematic trepidation disorder (CTD) would be of help.

  4. Kelly B.
    8/4/16

    Do you know of a good specialist in the Indy area?

    • Todd B
      8/4/16

      Yes…Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr. He’s also a professor of archaeology, in case your hubby ever finds himself trapped in the Well of Souls.

  5. Kelly B.
    8/4/16

    You kill me…😂

    • Todd B
      8/4/16

      Of course…that’s what brothers are for!

  6. Tough to nail these things down. https://mikestakeonthemovies.com/2014/11/24/the-thrill-of-ben-gardners-boat/
    I’m surprised that you don’t have the Indianapolis story in here. I’ve always thought that that was the consensus winner when people are polled. What I like about that scene perhaps best is it has nothing to do with scares or “Bruce” appearing. It’s all in the music, the claustrophobic location of the telling and in the acting. By the time the scene plays, the entire audience is so on edge that any one mentioning the word SHARK could cause us all to swallow hard and or jump. Then of course is that the story is based on actual fact is perhaps the most terrifying thing of all. Either way, they are all great scenes for us true fans of this great film.

    • Todd B
      8/7/16

      Of course, you and I could say that EVERY scene is the best of the film, but then people would get upset that we’d overstepped the five favorite limit. Yes, I do really like the Indianapolis story, and Robert Shaw does a simply outstanding job of telling it, but the five moments I listed were the ones that I really look forward to seeing whenever I watch the movie…not necessarily the best, or the most popular among Jaws connoisseurs, but the personal favorites that I’ve become attached to over the years, for one reason or another.

      And yes, the thrill of Ben Gardner’s boat…the highest I’ve ever jumped off a theater seat during a movie!

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