Jaws (1975) » Trivia

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Steven Spielberg wanted Sterling Hayden for the role of Quint. Hayden, however, was in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid tax. All Hayden`s income from acting was subject to a levy by the IRS, so there was an attempt to circumvent that: Hayden was also a writer, so one idea was to pay him union scale for his acting, and buy a story from him (his literary income wasn`t subject to levy) for a large sum. It was concluded that the IRS would see through this scheme, so Robert Shaw was cast instead.

Director Trademark: [Steven Spielberg] [music] .

During pre-production, director Steven Spielberg, accompanied by friends Martin Scorsese, George Lucas and John Milius, visited the effects shop where "Bruce" the shark was being constructed. Lucas stuck his head in the shark`s mouth to see how it worked and, as a joke, Milius and Spielberg sneaked to the controls and made the jaw clamp shut on Lucas` head. Unfortunately, and rather prophetically, considering the later technical difficulties the production would suffer, the shark malfunctioned, and Lucas got stuck in the mouth of the shark. When Spielberg and Milius were finally able to free him, the three men ran out of the workshop, afraid they`d done major damage to the creature.

Director Trademark: [Steven Spielberg] [stars] .

A scene filmed, but not included in the final release, was during the second beach attack. Brody`s son, swimming in the "shallow area" is frozen in terror as the shark approaches him; the man saves his life by pushing the boy out of the way at the last minute and putting himself in the path of the shark. There is a shot of the bloody, dying man`s upper body being dragged briefly along in the shark`s jaws before being pulled underwater. Steven Spielberg shot the scene, but decided it was far too gruesome and didn`t include it. The DVD release shows the scene being shot, blood and all, during the The Making of Steven Spielberg`s `Jaws` (1995) (V) documentary, but it is not included in the "Deleted Footage" or "Outtakes" sections of the DVD.

According to Steven Spielberg in the DVD `making of` documentary, his original idea for introducing Quint was to have him in the local movie theater watching Moby Dick (1956) starring Gregory Peck. Quint was to be sitting at the back of the theater and laughing so loudly at the absurd special effects of the whale that he drove the other viewers to exit the theater, leaving Quint by himself. Spielberg says that the only thing that stopped him from doing that scene was Gregory Peck. Peck held part of the rights to that movie and when Spielberg approached him for permission, Peck turned him down. Not because he thought it was a bad idea to use the film that way, but because Peck didn`t like his performance in Moby Dick (1956) and didn`t want the film seen again.

Cameo: [Steven Spielberg] voice on Quint`s marine radio, when Mrs. Brody tries to contact her husband on the "Orca".

Director Trademark: [Steven Spielberg] [father] Ms. Kinter is a single mother.

Charlton Heston was considered for the role of Chief Brody. Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms, Jon Voight and Jan-Michael Vincent were considered for the role of Hooper.

Victoria Principal was considered for the role of Ellen Brody.

Richard Dreyfuss originally turned down the role of Hooper but had worries after the initial screening of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974) and asked for his part back.

Lee Marvin was considered for the role of Quint by Steven Spielberg, despite his reservations about using big-name actors. Marvin thanked him but replied that he`d rather go fishing.

In addition to the well-known nickname of "Bruce", Steven Spielberg also called the shark "the great white turd" when he really got frustrated with the troublesome animatronic fish.

In a biography, Steven Spielberg revealed how `Robert Duvall (I)` helped to encourage him into making the movie. In return, Spielberg offered the role of Brody to Duvall but he turned it down, fearing that it may make him too famous as a result.

Charlton Heston was so annoyed with being rejected for the role of Brody that he later made disparaging comments about Steven Spielberg and vowed never to work with him. He later turned down Spielberg`s offer of the role of General Stilwell in 1941 (1979).

Author Peter Benchley`s choices for whom to cast in the film were Robert Redford, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen.

Steven Spielberg originally wanted Joe Spinell and Frank Pesce to be the two guys on the dock fishing for the shark at night (Pesce as the guy who falls in the water and Spinell shouting to him). Unfortunately, Pesce couldn`t make it to Martha`s Vineyard.

Quint`s tale of the USS Indianapolis was conceived by playwright Howard Sackler, lengthened by screenwriter John Milius and rewritten by Robert Shaw following a disagreement between screenwriters Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb. Shaw presented his text, and Benchley and Gottlieb agreed that this was exactly what was needed. Whoever was responsible, Quint got the date of the sinking wrong, claiming it was June 29, 1945, when in reality it was 12:14 am on July 30th, 1945. Universal has toyed with the idea of making the "Indianapolis" incident into a film, using a young Quint as the lead, ever since. Note that June 29, however, is the date (in the film) that the young boy was eaten by the shark, as can be seen in the hand-written "reward" notice.

The live shark footage was shot at Seal Rocks (Neptune Islands), South Australia. A real white pointer was cut up and "extended" for the close-up shots.


# When the shark attacks Hooper`s cage, there`s live footage of a real Great White with a rope hanging from its mouth. This shark`s mouth is clearly much smaller than the shark`s mouth when it attacks the boat moments later. These scenes were filmed by noted shark photographers Ron Taylor and Valerie Taylor with the help of shark expert Rodney Fox specifically for the movie. Because the Great White sharks they filmed would be smaller than the mechanical shark in the movie, they constructed a smaller version of Hooper`s shark cage. Inside the cage they alternately used a small mannequin or a little person. One of the sharks they attracted got caught in the cage`s cables and tore it apart trying to escape. The footage was so good that they changed the script to reflect the destroyed cage and Hooper escaping by hiding on the ocean floor. However, the small person used in the scene refused to go back in the miniature cage, which was damaged in the incident.

Quint`s boathouse set was built in Martha`s Vineyard on an abandoned lot. The city council made the production crew sign an agreement to demolish it after filming and replace everything exactly as it had been - right down to the litter.

Preview audiences screamed when the head of a shark victim appears in the hole in the bottom of the boat. Director Steven Spielberg re-shot the scene in editor Verna Fields swimming pool because he wanted them to "scream louder".

Author Peter Benchley was thrown off the set after objecting to the climax.


# Martha`s Vineyard, Massachusetts, was used as Amity Island primarily because even 12 miles out to sea, the sandy bottom was only 30 feet down, allowing the mechanical shark to function. Residents were paid $64 to scream and run across the beach as extras.


# The first shark killed on the docks, which is supposed to be the "man-eater" in the movie, is actually a real shark killed in Florida because there wasn`t a big enough one in Martha`s Vineyard.

Brody`s dog in the movie was actually Steven Spielberg`s real dog.


# The mechanical shark spent most of the movie broken-down, and was unavailable for certain shots. This led Steven Spielberg to use the camera as the "shark", and film from the shark`s point of view. Many think this added to the "chilling/haunting" quality in the final release saying that it would have made it too "cheesy" had they shown the shark as much as originally planned.

The original scene with Alex Kintner`s death was so scary that it was cut to ensure a PG rating. The scene called for a doll of Alex to be floating among the bathers, then the shark would jump out of the water.

When Roy Scheider was trapped in the sinking Orca, it took 75 takes to get the shot right. Scheider did not trust the special effects team to rescue him in case of an emergency so he hid axes and hatchets around the cabin just in case.

There were two 300-pound weights attached to Susan Backlinie that were being tugged by two groups of crewmen on shore. One group would pull right, and the other would pull left. It took three days to film that sequence.

After the shark was built, it was never tested in the water, and when it was put in the water at Martha`s Vineyard, it sank straight to the ocean floor. It took a team of divers to retrieve it.

The lighthouse in the film near the beach is an actual lighthouse on Martha`s Vineyard where the filming took place. Because of the billboard in the scene, the lighthouse had to be "moved" with special effects in post-production.

Steven Spielberg named the shark "Bruce" after his lawyer.

After the surprise success of the film, Hollywood insiders ascribed the film`s effectiveness mostly to veteran editor Verna Fields rather than the little-known, 28-year-old Steven Spielberg. Although he undoubtedly learned much from Fields, Spielberg wished to prove his worth in following films and never worked with Fields again. It should be said that from Jaws (1975) until Fields death, Spielberg only made three films: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), 1941 (1979) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

Steven Spielberg played first clarinet for the beach scene.


# In the actual Jersey Beach shark attacks of 1916 (which Hooper mentions in the film), the sequence of attacks is similar to that of the film: a swimmer in the surf; a dog; a boy; and the leg of a man in a tidal slough.

The "oceanographic institution on the mainland" that Matt Hooper comes from refers to the real-life Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Bob Ballard who rediscovered the RMS Titanic worked from Woods Hole.

The mechanical shark used in the film was nicknamed "Bruce" by its handlers, and the "full body" version tours around museums, while "Bruce II" resides at the Universal Theme Parks and "bites at" tourists on the tour ride.

Robert Shaw was also in trouble with the IRS and had to flee the country once his scenes were completed.

Some scenes that have been declared "missing" from the video were not in the original theatrical release. When the movie was first televised, the network needed fillers after editing it for TV, so they used extra footage from the film`s production.


# This was the first movie to reach the coveted $100 million mark in "theatrical rentals", which is about 45% of the "box office gross". It was the highest-grossing of all-time in the U.S. until Star Wars (1977).

When it was initially released in the summer 1975, over 67 million Americans went to see the movie, making it the first summer "blockbuster".

Robert Shaw could not stand Richard Dreyfuss and they argued all the time, which resulted in some good tension between Hooper and Quint.


# The average summer tourist population of Martha`s Vineyard before the film was released was approximately 5,000 people. After it came out, the population ballooned to 15,000.

Cameo: [Peter Benchley] reporter on the beach.

Peter Benchley has mentioned that if he had known about the actual behavior of sharks, he would have never written the book.

On the Anniversary edition of this picture on DVD, it is revealed on the documentary of the making of the film, The Making of Steven Spielberg`s `Jaws` (1995) (V), that Lee Marvin was Steven Spielberg`s first choice for Quint. When he refused, Sterling Hayden was his next choice.

Murray Hamilton was the only star who was Steven Spielberg`s first choice and was the only actor considered for the role of Mayor of Amity.

To create the sound of a drowning woman during post-production, Susan Backlinie was positioned, head upturned, in front of a microphone, while water from above was poured down into her throat.

Producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown avoided casting big-name stars because they thought they might distract audiences from the story`s tension.

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