Classic Scenes #8: Jaws (1975)

Top 10 Films’ Classic Scenes looks at some of cinema’s most memorable moments that live long in the minds of every audience that has witnessed them.

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Smile you son of a bitch! Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) utters those defiant words in the face of ultimate doom. Having lost his friends and fellow seafarers Quint (Robert Shaw) and Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) to the Great White teeth in the Atlantic, Brody has extinguished his rifle’s bullets and all his energy with the shark preparing one final fatal assault. But being a proactive, forward-thinking Chief of Police, Brody has one bullet tucked away for a rainy day. And it is raining hard. Having tried to deter the shark by chipping a tooth with a diver’s oxygen tank, the all-you-can-eat-loving fish is merrily using the metallic cylinder as a toothpick before devouring the gun-toting Amity Islander. But having a brain the size of a car engine isn’t always conducive to smart thinking and so Brody senses his opportunity. With his other bullets failing to even graze the shark’s ego, his last attempt may be more persuasive. Targeting the oxygen tank, doubling as a small but devastating explosive, he lets loose his final shot. BOOM!







Written by Daniel Stephens

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    mark Reply

    Yeah, it was better than the book, when the shark simply died of exhaustion and sank to the ocean floor.

    I seem to recall that they also blew up the bear in the derivative Grizzly, although – having only seen it once back in 1978 – I can’t remember how exactly they did it.

    One thing I’ve always found intriguing about Jaws is its final wide shot, when Spielberg shoots a deserted beach with no real discernable action while the end credits roll.

    Not saying I disagree with it, but it was kind of a low key way to end the whole thing.

  2. Avatar
    le0pard13 Reply

    Yeah, that’s a great one for a blockbuster with a boat-load of them (sorry, couldn’t resist). Well done, Dan.

  3. Avatar
    Pete Reply

    Still bloody nail-biting stuff! Great choice of classic scene!

  4. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Mark: Jaws is always the one of a couple I highlight when people say the films are never as good as the books. I hated the ending of Jaws in novel form but actually felt the whole book was average. The other, and this one is controversial, is The Shining. As much as I admire Stephen King’s work, Kubrick’s vision of The Shining, although very different from the book, had a whole new aura about it that simplified and improved the story.

    You could also argue, on the subject of King, that the adaptations of his short stories and novellas actually add to the original stories (and not just in length) – ie. Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption (others haven’t work so well admittedly, I didn’t care for 1408 and I was one of only a few who didn’t like The Mist).

  5. Avatar
    mark Reply

    Mr Dan,

    Strangley enough I was reading an old Empire a couple of nites back which included a big focus on King and the screen adaptations of his work (it was, in fact, part of a horror special – it had a review for Hostel II in it in which torture porn was still being referred to as gorno).

    Anyway, it seems while King was less than ambivalent about Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining, he was nevertheless thrilled (initially at least) that the director wanted to do it.

    Aside from giving up after the first 80 or so pages of The Tommyknockers some 21 years ago, I read my last King book (Carrie) in early 1984, so I’m not a big fan of the author by any stretch of the imagination.

    However, having seen both the theatrical and first TV mini series version of Salems Lot, I thought Tobe Hooper did a reasonable job (the two could have been combined and rejigged to make an ultimate version).

    Kubrick’s take on The Shining, on the other hand, is one I’ve had mixed feelings about over the years. When I first saw it on video in early 1986, I truly thought Stanley was taking the piss (why, for instance, did he spend so much time on getting Scatman back to the Overlook just to have him whacked by Jack’s axe straight away – especially when he was the character that saves the Mrs and kiddie in the novel?). Then there was Nicholson’s performance, which I thought was kinda comic.

    Cut to a few years later, and my views changed – partly because I let my (then) 10 year old son watch the film after he had seen a reference to it on The Simpsons. I was surprised that it truly scared him (this despite the fact he had played some fairly eerie video games in his time and watched a couple of Hollywood horror actioners), so I rewatched it (this time in the proper widescreen format) to try and see it from his perspective. And guess what? I came to the conclusion (one that essentially reiterates your observation above) that if one wiped out the King association and looked at it as a stand alone piece, The Shining truly was an interesting, not to mention effective, horror film. And yes, Nicholson was still funny at times, but he was also brilliant – another nomination for the Top 10 performances by a male actor which was unjustifiably snubbed by the Oscars(TM). Indeed, one could argue that it was one of his greatest performances – especially in his pre-weight gain period.

    The only other King book I read which made to the (small) screen was The Stand. Should have been produced for the theatre – not TV …. it was too long (like the book) and not violent or punchy enough for a story about the apocalypse (some big name actors may also have helped it along).

    Glad to see The Mist appeared in your most downbeat endings list despite your reservations about the film; if you haven’t done it already, maybe you should cobble together a list of the best 10 King to film adaptations. I’m sure it would make interesting reading.

  6. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Mark: …and here’s that Stephen King list you were asking about: https://www.top10films.co.uk/archives/5532 🙂

  7. Avatar
    ruth Reply

    This is a great scene, no doubt! I think if I were to see this on the big screen I’d be cheering and clapping with the crowd when that shark explodes! 😀

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