Spielberg created a masterpiece in his 1975 thriller Jaws. It was riddled with problems on set, took three times longer to film than planned, and cost over twice its budget, but stands as one of the best films ever made. When an enormous great white shark starts haunting the waters of a popular seaside resort, the police chief, a marine biologist and an old seafarer must head out to sea to hunt the beast.
Here are 11 facts about the film…
1) The most famous line was ad-libbed
The iconic line, ‘you’re gonna need a bigger boat,’ is one of the most famous lines in the history of cinema. However, according to the writer of the screenplay, it didn’t appear in the script. It was actually ad-libbed by Roy Scheider, who played Chief Brody.
2) Shooting star
During one scene on the boat, when Brody is loading his gun, a shooting star flies through the sky behind him. This wasn’t an effect that was added in, it was a real shooting star that just happened to appear at the perfect moment.
3) The tension between Quint and Hooper was real
Actors Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw couldn’t bear to be around each other on set. Whenever the cameras weren’t rolling, they argued like cat and dog. This actually worked out perfectly for the film, as the friction really showed between the two characters.
4) George Lucas got his head stuck in the shark’s mouth
There were three huge mechanically puppets made of the shark (which Steven Spielberg decided to name Bruce, after his lawyer). Each puppet cost $250,000. Whilst visiting the set one day, Spielberg took George Lucas and two other friends into the effects shop. As a joke, George Lucas put his head into the mouth of other of the puppets. To try to scare him, the others pressed the control that made the puppet’s mouth clamp shut. However, they couldn’t get it to open again, and Lucas’ head was stuck in the puppet’s mouth whilst his friends struggled to free him.
5) Spielberg laughed at Williams’ score for Jaws
The first time Williams let Spielberg hear the score he’d written for Jaws, Spielberg laughed at it and said, ‘That’s funny, but what did you really have in mind?’ Spielberg kept the score, though, and now attributes it for being a major part of the film’s success.
6) John Williams was composing the orchestra at the Oscars when he won his award
John Williams’ iconic score won the Oscar for Best Score at the 1976 Academy Awards. John Williams was actually working at the event. He was composing the orchestra. When it was announced he’d won the Oscar, he had to quickly get to the stage to accept it, and then resume his position conducting the orchestra.
7) Alex Kinter sandwich
Alex Kinter was the small boy who was attacked by the shark in the film; the shark’s second victim. Lee Fierro, who played the boy’s mother, walked into a seafood restaurant decades after starring in the film. On the menu, she saw ‘Alex Kinter sandwich,’ and ordered it; telling the waiter she had played the boy’s mother in the film. Moments later, the owner of the restaurant ran out to greet her. It was none other than Jeffrey Voorhees, who had played Alex Kinter.
8) Spielberg ‘got greedy’ with the scares in Jaws
Whilst Spielberg was watching a test audience of the movie, he loved their reaction to the scene where Brody has his back turned to the water, and the enormous shark emerges behind him. He decided he wanted to put one more scare in the film, and added in the scene where a corpse’s head pops up whilst Hopper and Brody are diving. ‘I got greedy,’ he later said.
9) A James Bond film introduced Spielberg to Robert Shaw
When watching From Russia With Love, in which Robert Shaw played the main villain, Red Grant, Spielberg realised he had to have Shaw play the part of grizzled old sea-farer Quint in Jaws. Luckily for Spielberg, he got his wish.
10) Robert Shaw was too drunk to deliver his monologue
Robert Shaw would drink between each take, and during the scene where the men are all drinking and sharing their stories, Shaw delivered a monologue about the USS Indianapolis that was unusable. He called Spielberg that night, apologised to him, and asked if he could try again the following day. The next day, Shaw delivered a beautiful and electrifying monologue that ended up in the final cut, and is one of the most memorable parts of the film.
11) Jaws’ production was riddled with problems and delays
The shoot was originally scheduled to last 55 days, but ended up lasting 159. The film had a budget of $4,000,000, but ended up costing $9,000,000 – over double! There were daily issues with the mechanical sharks. The crew working on the film started to nickname it, ‘Flaws.’
There you have it – 11 pieces of Jaws trivia!