Friday, March 5, 2010

Gory's Favorite Scenes - Jaws - The Quint Speech

One of my all time favorite scenes, and at times I even dare to say my favorite, is from 'Jaws' when Robert Shaw's Quint character tells the story of the Indianapolis. The thing I love about this scene is that it is a quiet scene but is just riveting and it is done so simply. A young Steven Spielberg who was ready to jump out of his own skin with his creativity knew that when the time came a director steps back and lets the actors do their thing. Although it's a little too apparent in the clip below but when you watch the film the music creeps in and is very subtle. But these are the technical things I admire. What makes the scene so amazing is what it represents on the whole. Quint is a cliched character. Even right before he and Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) are comparing scars. Quint's scars are from different sea life encounters and even one bar room arm wrestling shenanigan. Then Brody (Roy Scheider) notices a mark on his arm and asks about it. He says he had a tattoo removed causing Hooper to make the joke that it said "mother"as he bursts out in laughter. Quint reaches across the table and grabs his arm much like a parent grabs the arm of a child and says it was the Indianapolis. Immediately Hooper stops laughing. There is a brief silence where the weight of that alone is brought into the boat they're on. Then Quint goes into his experience of what happened when the Indianapolis sank. Told with such a quiet intensity and subtle emotion and a subdued pain which he shows as if he's never told someone before. This cliched character all of a sudden becomes almost the most fully rounded character in the entire film. Someone we could have easily dismissed is now more human. In one telling of his story we know where he came from. We know who he is. Why he is. I've often said that every great movie needs a Quint speech. Not a scene where a character rambles on but where a character becomes more than just a one dimensional character on the screen. I cannot tell you how many times I have watched this scene and everytime I have the same feeling. An absolutely brilliant scene.


SgtPeppers said...

Very well put. This is also one of my favorite scenes.

C.L. Hadden said...

I just did a post a few days ago over at my blog about awesome horror speeches and the Indianapolis speech was my first mention - because it's obviously the best.
Nice post.

Chris said...

Martin: What's that one?

Quint: What?

Martin: That one, there, on your arm?

Quint: Ah, well. It's a tattoo. I got that removed.

Hooper: Don't tell me. Don't tell me. Mother. Ha ha ha! What is it?

Quint: Mr. Hooper, that's a checkered flag from the Indianapolis 500.

Hooper: You were in the Indy 500?

Martin: What happened?

Quint: "Some rookie near the front of the pack slammed into my side, Chief. We were testing out an idea for an expanded race, with 1100 men on a 2 mile course. Eleven hundred men piled up on top of each other. Every car crashed & burned 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 on the track, Chief? You tell by looking from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn't know, was our qualifier had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn't even list us DNQ for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come floppin', 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 go away... but sometimes he wouldn't go away."

Hooper: "Did you ever race against Richard Petty?"

Quint: "Aye. Sometimes Petty he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about Richard Petty... 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 passes ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched engine screamin'."

Brody: "Never mind that Quint, what about the sharks?"

Quint: "Oh yeah, they were the real problem. The track 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. Good driver. Sponsored by Pennzoil. I thought he was asleep, he was just clinging to a tire. I reached over to wake him up. Rolled over, down on the pavement just like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he'd been bitten in half below the waist. Noon, the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a pace car saw us. He drove in slow and he saw us... he was a young driver, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper. Anyway, he saw us and he come in slow and three hours later a big fat ambulance comes in 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 helmet again. So, eleven hundred men went in the time trial; 316 men qualified and the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, they cancelled the race after that."