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Behind The Scenes Of Every Death In 'Jaws'

Updated July 4, 2021 63.5k views5 items

Jaws traumatized audiences when it was released in 1975, and the film's ability to generate scares has not subsided in the decades since its release. The attack scenes in Jaws have had a profound impact on our feelings about jumping into the ocean. In fact, the shark's reputation has been forever tainted by the film's use of this large fish as its monster. The author of the book the film is based on, Peter Benchley, openly regrets writing it because of how people now view and treat sharks.

In total, there are five death scenes in Jaws. Director Steven Spielberg decided to apply classic horror scare tactics that relied on the imagination more than on gruesome, vivid bloodshed. This strategy has contributed to the film's unchalleged status as one of the scariest movies of all time - blowing other challengers right out of the water.

This list goes into detail about each scene, including first-hand accounts from the actors and stuntpeople who allowed themselves to be tossed around in the water by a mechanical monster shark.

  • Quint, The Shark Hunter

    In the film's back half, the hunter becomes the hunted. Brody and Hooper are joined by shark fisherman Quint, portrayed in a critically acclaimed role by British actor Robert Shaw, on board the Orca. It's no coincidence the boat is named after one of the great white shark's top predators: the trio are on a mission to destroy the beast once and for all. After a few days at sea, attempting to lure the shark into their traps, the men sit around a dining table on board the boat, and in a scene shot with a tone of foreboding, Quint gives a soliloquy about the crew of the USS Indianapolis, who were consumed by sharks after their ship sank.

    This means, of course, that of the three men, Quint is the one eventually torn in half by the shark. It happens the next day in a visually stunning moment, as the shark jumps on board the Orca and grabs Quint at the waist. The famed shark hunter stabs his attacker with a machete - to no avail - then slides straight into the shark's mouth, where he's taken into the water and disappears.

    Quint's character is supposedly based on fellow Jaws star Craig Kingsbury, who plays the shark's third victim. The character in Benchley's novel was inspired by Frank Mundus, a commercial fisherman. Shaw was selected for the role because the film's producers were impressed by his work in The Sting. Spielberg's first choice for Quint was Lee Marvin.

    Shaw and co-star Richard Dreyfuss did not get along during filming. "In private, he was the kindest, gentlest, funniest guy you ever met," recalled Dreyfuss in Jaws: The Inside Story. "Then we'd walk to the set and on the way to the set he was possessed by some evil troll who would then make me his victim."

    In one take of Quint's passing, Shaw had so much fake blood in his mouth that it covered his face as he struggled. This was deemed too graphic for the final cut of the film.