Reposting some older pieces from my other blog.
It is no secret to anyone that knows me that Jaws is my favorite film and I rarely let an opportunity to watch even the smallest scene pass me by. So it should come as no surprise that when I happened upon it on satellite the other day (and in HD no less) I, of course, stopped to watch. My timing, it was revealed, was quite perfect. The first shot I saw was the shark falling back into the ocean, followed by Brody telling Quint, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” The next scene is perhaps the most noted, Quint’s monologue about the U.S.S. Indianapolis. I believe this is the best scene in the movie and it is all due to Robert Shaw’s performance.
Shaw starts off the speech with an explanation to Brody about what the mission of the Indianapolis was then quickly goes into a description of the horrors he faced following the sinking of the ship. Now, this entire scene is a credit to Shaw’s brilliant acting abilities. All you need as proof of his talent are the looks on his two fellow actors at the end of the scene. Those expressions are real and they are reactions to Shaw’s performance. They look simply dumbfounded. I have seen this movie countless times and I have been astonished every time I watch this scene at how expressive Shaw’s eyes are. He goes back and forth in the story between several emotions. At one point he is angry and the next second scared, then insane. All of these he shows through not only the pitch in his voice and the movement of his body but also in the changing shade and look in his eyes. When he delivers the line, “They didn’t even list us overdue for a week,” his voice is angry and his eyes dark. When he says, “The thing about a shark … he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya he doesn’t seem to be livin’ until those black eyes roll over white and then … oh then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’. The ocean turns red and despite all that poundin’ and hollerin’, they all come in and … they rip you to pieces,” he seems to be staring off into space and gets a glazed look in his eyes and cracks a smile, showing that Quint is clearly traumatized from this incident and has lost some hold on sanity. Finally when he speaks of being picked up by the PBY his eyes widen and his face loses some color. Clearly he was afraid he was going to die just before he was saved. He confirms this by claiming he’ll never put on a lifejacket again. He would rather drown than wait to be ripped apart by something more terrible.
It is a crime that Robert Shaw never won an Oscar, let alone that he wasn’t even nominated for this role. Shaw was a truly amazing performer.