MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: JAWS (1975)
Here we are, smack dab in the middle of summer, the perfect time to check out some memorable lines from the ultimate summer movie, JAWS (1975).
There are an incredible amount of memorable lines in JAWS, some now regarded as the most famous in film history.
The biggie, the most famous, occurs when Brody (Roy Scheider) sees the shark up close while on the Orca, and he tells Quint (Robert Shaw), “You’re going to need a bigger boat.”
That line, improvised by Scheider, has become one of the most recognizable lines in film history.
But Roy Scheider also has plenty of other notable lines in the film, as do fellow actors Robert Shaw as Quint and Richard Dreyfuss as Hooper. Here are just a few of them, from JAWS, screenplay by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb, based on Benchley’s novel.
Moments before Brody utters his celebrated line about the bigger boat, he’s ordered by Quint to toss fish guts into the water in order to attract the shark, a job he’s none too happy about, especially since Hooper has been given what in Brody’s eyes is the easier task, driving the boat.
Quint tells Hooper to take the boat slow ahead, to which Brody comments:
BRODY: Slow ahead. I can go slow ahead. Why don’t you come down here and chum some of this shit.”
At which point the shark erupts from the water, giving Brody an up front and personal view, causing him to back up and utter his now famous line to Quint about needing a bigger boat.
Brody also has the now classic line at the end, as he’s firing his rifle at the shark.
BRODY: Smile, you son of a bitch!
Quint (Robert Shaw) gets some of the best lines in the movie. Who can forget these classics:
QUINT: Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’. I’ll catch this bird for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Bad fish. Not like going down the pond chasin’ bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow you whole. Little shakin’, little tenderizin’, an’ down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that’ll bring back your tourists, put all your businesses on a payin’ basis. But it’s not gonna be pleasant. I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I’ll find him for three, but I’ll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you’ve gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don’t want no volunteers, I don’t want no mates, there’s just too many captains on this island. $10,000 for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.
And then there are these ditties:
QUINT: Here’s to swimmin’ with bowlegged women!
QUINT: Here lies the body of Mary Lee; died at the age of a hundred and three. For fifteen years she kept her virginity. Not a bad record for this vicinity.
But his most memorable lines come from his best scene when he recounts to Brody and Hooper the story of his experience on the U.S.S Indianapolis during World War II. It’s one of the highlights of the movie, and is one of Shaw’s best moments on film, period! It’s an amazing soliloquy. Here it is:
QUINT: Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin’ back from the island of Tinian to Leyte… just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn’t see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that when you’re in the water, Chief? You tell by looking from the dorsal to the tail fin. What we didn’t know, was our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn’t even list us overdue for a week. 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 you see in the calendar named “The Battle of Waterloo” and the idea was: shark comes to the nearest man, that man he starts poundin’ and hollerin’ and screamin’ and sometimes the shark will go away… but sometimes he wouldn’t go away. Sometimes that shark he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about a shark… he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be living… until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’. The ocean turns red, and despite all the poundin’ and the hollerin’, they all come in and they… rip you to pieces. You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don’t know how many sharks, maybe a thousand. I know how many men, they averaged six an hour. On Thursday morning, Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boatswain’s mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. He bobbed up, down in the water just like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he’d been bitten in half below the waist. Noon, the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us. He swung in low and he saw us… he was a young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper. Anyway, he saw us and he come in low and three hours later a big fat PBY comes down and starts to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened… waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went in the water; 316 men come out and the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.
Richard Dreyfuss as Hooper also has his share of classic lines in this one, like when he’s examining the dead remains of the first shark attack victim, young Chrissie, who shouldn’t have gone for that moonlight swim:
HOOPER: The height and weight of the victim can only be estimated from the partial remains. The torso has been severed in mid-thorax; there are no major organs remaining. The right arm has been severed above the elbow with massive tissue loss in the upper musculature… partially denuded bone remaining…this was no boat accident. Did you notify the Coast Guard about this?
BRODY: No. It was only local jurisdiction.
HOOPER: The left arm, head, shoulders, sternum and portions of the rib cage are intact—do not smoke in here, thank you very much. (Lifts up the severed arm) This is what happens. It indicates the non-frenzied feeding of a large squalus – possibly Longimanus or Isurus glauca. Now… the enormous amount of tissue loss prevents any detailed analysis; however the attacking squalus must be considerably larger than any normal squalus found in these waters. Didn’t you get on a boat and check out these waters?
HOOPER: Well, this was not a boat accident! And it wasn’t any propeller; and it wasn’t any coral reef; and it wasn’t Jack the Ripper! It was a shark.
Or this exchange with Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton):
MAYOR VAUGHN: I don’t think either of one you are familiar with our problems.
HOOPER: I think that I am familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you in the ass!
And who can forget the moment when he spots the shark swimming towards their boat, and he has to interrupt the argument between Brody and Quint:
HOOPER: Boys, oh boys… I think he’s come back for his noon feeding.
There are so many more unforgettable lines from JAWS, enough to fill several more columns.
My personal favorite is one brief two word utterance by Brody, and this goes back to the first time I saw JAWS, at the movies, when I was just 11 years old. Yikes!
I remember sitting there in the theater, nodding my head, agreeing with Brody, thinking, “Yes, thank you! Thank you! Go back to the land. Get me out of this misery!” You see, it’s the point in the film where after essentially getting their butts kicked by the shark, Quint tells Brody and Hooper that he’s taking the boat, the Orca, back in to shore. Brody reacts with this emotional two word exclamation that gave me so much relief at the time. The line?
BRODY: Thank, Christ!
But of course the shark had something to say about this, and the Orca never did make it back to shore.
Well, that’s it for now. Thanks for joining me today on MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES. I’ll be back again next time with notable lines from another great movie.
Thanks for reading!
Books by Michael Arruda:
TIME FRAME, science fiction novel by Michael Arruda.
IN THE SPOOKLIGHT, movie review collection by Michael Arruda.
FOR THE LOVE OF HORROR, short story collection by Michael Arruda.