Sunday, September 29, 2013

Casting sheet for upcoming Gotham PD live-action series!

I don’t know if you heard about this, but they’re starting production on a new live-action TV series, set in Gotham City before the emergence of Batman. The series will center on a young Jim Gordon as he rises through the ranks of the Gotham PD, and deals with the rising influence of an eccentric and dangerous new breed of criminal.
It sounds pretty good! You could really go a lot of ways with a show like this. You could do the police procedural angle, or the masked vigilante angle (Jim Gordon as Gotham’s first, unsung masked vigilante? Could happen!), or maybe even the Law & Order angle, where Jim Gordon busts the criminals while a sexy, sexy female DA handles the convictions.
Which is all great. But…
So not too many people have seen this, but there’s an official casting sheet for the show making the rounds. If you don’t know, a casting sheet is what gets sent to actors’ agencies; it gives a basic description of a show’s characters (both physical and personality-wise) so an agency can submit possible candidates.
The casting sheet for this Gotham PD show is… odd. Like this one:
Renee Montoya (age 16): Montoya is a tough kid from the streets. She doesn’t trust cops. She runs with a bad crowd but she’s got a good heart. If you look past the petty crimes and the don’t-care attitude, you can tell she’d be a natural cop. Medium height, Hispanic or “Hispanic-y”. Possibly Korean. Japanese ok, if she can pull off a Korean accent while speaking Spanish. Bonus if actor has only one arm, or is willing to have one arm removed. Parkour skills a plus.
That’s just… that’s just weird, right? Can you even call someone Hispanic-y? I’m not even sure I should be writing that word.
Anyway, it gets weirder. Here’s the write-up for Jim Gordon himself:
Jim Gordon (age 29): He’s only been on the force for a few years, but he’s already made a name for himself. The good cops love him and the crooked cops want him to have an “accident”. Very fit, but carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. Good with a threat, his fists, or a gun, and knows when to use each. Dark hair. Note: Actor should be comfortable in full drag, as he will also be playing Jim Gordon’s twin sister, Ginny Gordon.
I seriously don’t ever remember Jim Gordon having a twin sister named Ginny. Is that a thing???
Okay, moving on to the villains.
Now, remember that this is supposed to take place in the days before Batman, but you can see from the casting sheet that some of Gotham’s most infamous criminals will be in place, in almost a larval state. You’ll probably recognize one of the names on the list:
Jack Napier (age 20): First thing first: Napier is just one of a dozen known aliases for this up-and-coming gangster. Slight of build, jittery; almost unable to sit still for extended periods. Highly unstable. Southern accent. Sassy. Very, very sassy. Extremely sassy. Seriously, we can’t overstate the sassy angle enough. He should be like Julia Sugarbaker from Designing Women, only male and times a million.
Okay, that’s… something. This is obviously meant to be the Joker before he becomes the Joker. And I guess sassy could be one interpretation of the character. I guess.
All right. One more. This one is just, I dunno. Just read it:
Joey (age 22): Handsome. Macho. Smug. Lives across the hall from Jim Gordon. Wants to be an actor. Actually, wants to be Al Pacino. Loves women, sports, women, Gotham, women, and most of all Joey.
That’s just… that’s just like a word-for-word rip-off of Joey from Friends, right? I mean, that’s just blatant stealing. And it doesn’t even make sense! Does Jim Gordon has a ditsy blonde friend who thinks she’s psychic, too? Does he go around saying “Could there BE any more corruption on this police force?”
Like I said, the basic premise of this show sounds cool, but I am seriously worried after reading this casting sheet.
Here’s hoping they figure it out.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Downton Abbey Season 4 SPOILERS!

Hi everyone!
I know, I know, it’s been a while since I put anything up here. But I had a baby! And he insisted on all this food and love and attention. But now he’s full grown, with a job and family of his own, so here I am.
I wasn’t sure what to write about at first, but then I stumbled across something literally too good not to share. So here goes!
I don’t know how many of you are Downton Abbey fans, but I am a total sucker for this show. And like most poor, pathetic Americans, I thought I’d have to wait until January to see the next season, even though it’s broadcasting right now over in Britain.
But I managed to get a look at the first episode! And it’s good! Really good! And I’m going to tell people all about it.
So if you hate spoilers (SPOILERS!) don’t read another damned word! But you should because it will totally be worth it.
Now, if you remember the end of last season, creator and writer Julian Fellowes had to… thin the herd a bit. A couple of key actors wanted to move on to other things, like movies, or maybe commercials for delicious butter, and Fellowes had to write them out of the show, permanently.
It would not be an overstatement to say that he was a teensy bit brutal about it. I mean, he literally showed Matthew Crowley’s Dan Stevens lying upside-down in a car, body broken, blood dripping out of his ears. Yeesh.
The result, of course, is heartbreak at Downton. Lady Mary is understandably shattered after losing both her sister (the good one, not the horrible one) and her true love in short order. The fourth season picks up six months after Matthew Crowley’s death, and Mary is living in a limbo of mourning.
After an opening sequence clearly establishes the bleak atmosphere hanging over Downton, it would be really easy to fall prey to the hope that Fellowes is ready to lift the mood a little.
This is not the case.
I’m not sure if there’s some other behind-the-scenes drama going on with the cast, or if Fellowes just developed a taste for blood after last season, but the man clearly has, as the British are fond of saying, his jams in a tort.
One scene after another just seems to twist the knife for everyone living at Downton. I wish I could show you some of these scenes, but I would probably be sued into the astral plane for doing so.
But, I am going to post a few snippets of the script that I got my hands on. I think you’ll be able to see what I mean pretty quickly:

LORD GRANTHAM sits at his desk. He shuffles papers, disinterested. Sets them down with a sigh.
Sitting on one of the sofas, LADY MARY stares into space.
Lord Grantham watches her for a long, painful moment.
She does not notice.
The Dowager Countess, my Lord.
The DOWAGER steps inside. She looks more frail than the last time we’ve seen her, as if she’s aged a decade in just a few short months.
Thank you, Carson. Mother, do sit.
Despite her frail appearance, the Dowager immediately sees Mary’s condition. Her face softens with concern.
Yes, I believe I will.
She sits.
Hello, my dear.
Mary doesn’t seem to hear her. She continues to stare off.
The Dowager trades looks with Grantham. He shrugs, helplessly.
How are we this morning?
Mary stares off. But she speaks.
Isn’t it strange, Grandmama?
What is, my dear?
Mary looks at the Dowager now. Her eyes are without expression.
How, in the end, we really do get what we deserve.
Nonsense, my dear. You don’t deserve this any more than I deserve an advanced case of leprosy.
Don’t I just? Matthew… didn’t want to be married to me. He was convinced that what had happened between him and Lavinia was… I talked him into it. Don’t you see? I talked him into betraying his own sense of honor, and decency. And look where it led him.
The Dowager looks to Grantham for guidance. He has none to give.
I did this. To Matthew, to the baby. It’s my fault.
Mary! I understand what you’ve lost. But enough is enough, young lady!
The Dowager’s tone snaps Mary out of her trance.
We’ve all seen our share of the tragic. The whole of England has. Would you say that they earned it? That this was some sort of retribution? Should we expect a flood next, perhaps?
The color rises in Mary’s cheeks.

I know you mean well, Grandmama. But perhaps your time would be better spent visiting with the baby.
The Dowager blinks back her reaction. With difficulty, she rises. Lord Grantham tries to help her up, but she swats him off.
Yes. Perhaps it would.
The Dowager strides out of the library, but stops in the doorway and turns back.
I would say this, before I depart. You can’t spend—
Suddenly, a GIANT BROWN BEAR leaps from the hallway, dragging the Dowager to the ground.

Can you believe it? A bear. Just, completely out of nowhere. Needless to say, the Dowager Countess doesn’t make it. She gets in a few good licks, and one really excellent zinger, but then, gone. I would be pissed if I were Maggie Smith’s agent.
After that, things only get worse. The Lord Grantham becomes obsessed with finding and killing the bear, and organizes a hunt on the grounds. Even the servants are brought into the effort, with Bates, Thomas, and Joseph all ending up in the same hunting party (awkward!). Lord Grantham gives one of his rousing speeches at the start of the hunt, but even with his brave words, you can tell right away that trouble lurks ahead:

As you all know, I have dedicated my life to preserving the legacy of this place. But that dedication pales in comparison to my sacred duty to protect those who live and work herein. I cannot help but feel that I have lapsed in that duty of late. Perhaps it has been the grief of these too-unhappy months. But any such gap in my vigilance ends here, today. We will find the beast that took the Lady Dowager from us. We will find it, and we will destroy it.
THOMAS (sotto)
Poor bear oughta be knighted, you ask me. Service to his country.
BATES overhears Thomas’ remark, and pins him with an icy stare.
Now, we must use every caution. Aside from the danger of the bear itself, I needn’t remind any of you about the reports of the deranged troupe of circus performers who have been roaming the countryside, slaughtering and eating any man, woman, or child unlucky enough to cross their path. But I believe that this day will mark the end of a dark period in Downton’s history, and the beginning of a bright new future.


Well, I think you can see that things only get worse. I mean, you can practically feel the tension between Thomas and Bates, can’t you? Brrrr!
I wish I could say this was the nadir, but honestly, it just gets darker from here. I won’t get into specifics, but if you have a weak stomach for beheadings (accidental and otherwise), you probably want to skip Episode 2 altogether.
Anyway, I don’t want to spoil the entire season for you. It really is very good.
Just… y’know. A little bleak.  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

J.K. Rowling Holds Press Conference on New Book Series

Hi kids!

So, the other day, I heard that J.K. Rowling was working on a new book, and I could only imagine what it must be like to try to create anything under the shadow of Harry Potter.

This is my take on her first press conference to discuss her new book. (This is satire, obviously.)


A books and authors convention. A large conference hall is
jam-packed, standing room only.

A woman approaches the podium, and the place goes nuts. You'd
think she was Elvis.

She's better than Elvis. She's JK ROWLING.

          Thank you. Thank you very much.
          Thank you. Thank you. Thanks so
          much. Thank you.

The applause roars on.

                  ROWLING (CONT'D)
          Thanks ever so much. Thank you.
          Wow. Thank you very much. Please.
          That's-- thank you. If you could
          all... thank you.

No dent in the applause-o-meter.

                  ROWLING (CONT'D)
          My goodness. Thank you. All right
          now. I-- if everyone could just...
          thanks so much. Thank you. I...
          Perhaps we could sit?

The applause fades out to a polite murmur. Random shouts of
"We love you!" and "You changed my life!"

                  ROWLING (CONT'D)
          Yes. All right. Thanks very much
          for that. I've always felt very
          fortunate in my fans. It has been a
          tremendous source of joy and
          strength for me, to know that so
          many of you have been so deeply
          touched by my work.

Burst of applause. It goes on for a bit. She rides it out.

                  ROWLING (CONT'D)
          Thank you. And now, as it were, I'm
          beginning a new chapter in my work.
          I don't want to give too much away,
          but I hope that many of you will be
          joining me on this new journey, as
          you joined me on our adventures
          with a certain boy wizard.

Sustained applause. She grin-and-bears it.

                  ROWLING (CONT'D)
          Thank you very much. Now, I know
          this new story may not be for all
          of you. Honestly, it's been quite
          tempting just to stay in Harry's
          world forever, continuing to build
          on what, I feel at least, to be a
          complete story. But at the same
          time, I feel that, as a writer, I
          owe it to myself to grow beyond
          that. I owe it to all of you to
          grow beyond that, and to give you a
          chance to grow with me, into new
          worlds and new experiences.

No reaction from the crowd. She moves on.

                  ROWLING (CONT'D)
          And while the magic of the
          wizarding world has provided a
          thrilling canvas for my writing, I
          also believe that there are other
          types of magic out there that are
          just as thrilling. The simple magic
          that can exist between two people,
          in the form of love, or duty, or
          sacrifice. And it's this simple
          magic, this everyday wonder, that I
          hope to explore in my next work.

Nothing from the audience. Good? Bad?

                  ROWLING (CONT'D)
          Right. Um. So, again, I don't want
          to give too much away, but if any
          of you have questions, I'd be happy
          - oh my! Quite a few of you. Great.
          You, there in the... In the cloak.
          No, next to you. Yes. You. Can we
          get him a microphone?

          So, does Harry not appear in the
          first book of this new series?

          No.. Harry doesn't appear in any
          book of the series, actually. He's
          not in it.

          He's just in the background, then?

          No, I -- I'm sorry. This isn't a
          Harry Potter story. It's going to
          be a completely new thing. Yes, the
          gentleman with the beard here, up
          front. Go ahead.

          You spoke of this simpler form of
          magic, as in the love between two


          Is this the Amortentia potion?

          Um... no. It isn't. That potion--
          this is an entirely new world, with
          new characters. There's no magic in
          it, in the sense of the Harry
          Potter stories. How about someone
          else, someone in just a T-shirt or
          something. Yes, you, lovely.

          So does Voldemort come to this new
          world, because he knows they don't
          have the magic to fight back?

          Christ, no. No no no. There is no
          Voldemort in this story. This has
          nothing to do with Harry Potter, or
          any Harry Potter characters, or
          anything in the Harry Potter world
          or books or stories, or video
          games, or movies, or comic books.
          None of it. This is a completely
          new thing that I'm trying to write.
          It's completely new. Do you
          understand? A completely new thing.
              (gathers herself)
          Okay. Now, you, the young lady
          here. Go ahead.

                  YOUNG LADY
          Is Hermione in it?

          I don't-- did you not hear me, just
          now? No, Hermione is not in it. No
          one from Harry Potter is in it.

                  YOUNG LADY
          But there will be at least one
          strong female character?

          Yes. Yes! Absolutely. In fact, the
          female lead in this story is
          brilliant. She absolutely is.
          Strong, independent, compassionate.
          She goes to tremendous depths on
          her journey. I really think you'll
          find a lot to love in her. I do.

                  YOUNG LADY
          Is she top of her wizarding class?

          No, no, she's -- there is no
          wizarding in this book. There's no
          magic, no Hogwarts--
              (1000 hands go up)
          --no OTHER wizarding schools--
              (hands all go down)
          She's just a simple, ordinary girl
          in an extraordinary circumstance.

                  YOUNG LADY
          So she doesn't know she's a wizard?

          She is not a wizard.

                  YOUNG LADY
          So she's a muggle?

          Good christ, there are no wizards
          in this story. There is no magic.
          Do you get that?

                  YOUNG LADY
          So everyone's a muggle?

          No, there are no muggles, either.
          That word doesn't exist in this
          world. Magic doesn't exist, so
          there's no difference between
          anyone, based on magic. Okay?
          None of that is in this world. None
          of it. No magic. No Harry. No
          wizards. None of it. Yes, you, in
          the vest.

          Can Luke Skywalker be in it?

          ... I'm sorry?

          I just think it would be awesome if
          Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter
          could fight each other.

          No. That's not... I'm not writing
          that... Please, are there any other

All hands go up.

                  ROWLING (CONT'D)
          I am not answering a question about
          who would win in a fight between
          Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter.

Most of the hands go down.

                  ROWLING (CONT'D)
          All right, you, in the sweater.

          After you finish this new series,
          do you think you'll ever go back
          and revisit Harry Potter?

The audience falls dead silent. Rowling takes a deep breath.

          ... I bloody well suppose I have
          to, don't I?

The crowd explodes to its feet, cheering.

Rowing gives them a weak wave of thanks, and slumps away,

                  ROWLING (O.C.) (CONT'D)
          Someone get me a bloody drink!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

ScriptWalk Fight Scenes: The Matrix

Trinity from The Matrix.
Image courtesy
Hey all,

A little backstory: I spend a fair amount of time on different screenwriting message boards, and there's one question I've seen several different times:

How do you write a fight scene?

I mean, not "you" as in me. The hypothetical "you." How does one write a fight scene, as it were. Quite.

Anyway, this is one of those tricky grey areas that no one seems to have a good answer for. Some people say you should basically write "They fight." and move onto the next scene. Other recommend nothing less than an exact blow-by-blow.

So I thought it might be fun this week to ScriptWalk through a few different famous fight scenes: take a look at the script, and then see how it translates to the finished product.

First up, The Matrix.

The Matrix: Trinity's Escape

I have a special place in my heart for The Matrix, because it was the last movie that I ever went into without any preconceived notions about what to expect. I had never heard of the movie. I had no idea what it was. It could have been about spreadsheets for all I knew.

The Matrix changed fight scenes. Hell, it changed action scenes. It's hard to remember now, but there had been almost nothing even close to the way The Matrix messed with time and space within a fight scene. And it all started, without warning, during Trinity's escape from the cops in the first few minutes.

The setup, if you haven't seen the movie in a while: several cops have shown up to arrest Trinity, whom we've just barely laid eyes on. A team of Agents arrives, and the lead Agent (Smith) reprimands the cops for going in without them.

   I sent two units.  They're 
   bringing her down now.

   No, Lieutenant, your men are dead.

First, let's look at the fight scene in an early version of the script, from April 1996. (Sourced from


 The Big Cop flicks out his cuffs, the other cops holding 
 a bead.  They've done this a hundred times, they know 
 they've got her, until the Big Cop reaches with the cuff 
 and Trinity moves --

 It almost doesn't register, so smooth and fast, inhumanly 

 The eye blinks and Trinity's palm. snaps up and the nose 
 explodes, blood erupting.  The cop is dead before he
 begins to fall.

 And Trinity is moving again --

 Seizing a wrist, misdirecting a gun, as a startled cop 

 A head explodes.

 In blind panic, another airs his gun, the barrel, a fixed 
 black hole --

 And FIRES --

 Trinity twists out of the way, the bullet missing as she 
 reverses into a roundhouse kick, knocking the gun away.

 The cop begins to scream when a jump kick crushes his 
 windpipe, killing the scream as he falls to the ground.

 She looks at the four bodies.


Pretty straightforward, as far as a fight scene goes. We get a good feel for the sequence of actions, we learn that Trinity is inhumanly quick, and she takes out the cops, mercilessly, and in short order.

But this could be a scene out of almost any action movie. Punches, kicks, twisting arms and misdirected guns -- sounds like the sort of thing Jason Bourne does for breakfast (though a bit more gory). It doesn't really feel like the famous scene we know and love -- yet.

So, let's take a look at a later draft of the same scene (June 1997, sourced from


 The Big Cop flicks out his cuffs, the other cops holding a
 bead.  They've done this a hundred times, they know
 they've got her, until the Big Cop reaches with the cuffs
 and Trinity moves --

 It almost doesn't register, so smooth and fast, inhumanly

 The eye blinks and Trinity's palm snaps up and his nose
 explodes, blood erupting.  Her leg kicks with the force of
 a wrecking ball and he flies back, a two-hundred-fifty
 pound sack of limp meat and bone that slams into the cop
 farthest from her.

 Trinity moves again, BULLETS RAKING the WALLS, flashlights
 sweeping with panic as the remaining cops try to stop a
 leather-clad ghost.

 A GUN still in the cop's hand is snatched, twisted and
 FIRED.  There is a final violent exchange of GUNFIRE and
 when it's over, Trinity is the only one standing.

 A flashlight rocks slowly to a stop.


Interesting. In a way, there's less detail here about Trinity's actual movement. The first version mentions specific moves, like roundhouse kick and jump kick. This second version leaves some of those details up to the imagination, but it does a much better job showing how inhumanly powerful Trinity is, compared to the cops.

She's no longer just twisting, punching and kicking: she's hitting with the force of a wrecking ball, and sending a 250-pound man across the room, taking out two cops with a single kick. She evades a barrage of bullets like a leather-clad ghost.

This version of Trinity isn't just "inhumanly" fast; she seems decidedly superhuman.

But... but... what about all the cool stuff? The bullet-time jump-kick and the running up the wall and the "she kicks high" no-look smackdown of the guy behind her? That must all be in the shooting script, right?

Nope. You can check it out for yourself over at -- the shooting script version of the scene looks pretty much identical to the June '97 version.

There's a lot missing from the final scene:

So where did all that stuff come in? Clearly, during the pre-production, filming, and editing of The Matrix, a lot of the visual style was designed, developed, and implemented.There was fight choreography, special effects work, foley work. Lots of stuff, and it all went into shaping this scene, as well as all of the other action scenes in the film.

But the important thing was that the feel of the scene was established in the script. In the first version, Trinity is an ass-kicker. In the later versions, she's superhuman, ghostlike, and impossible to hit. It's hard to imagine the first version of the script being translated into the scene above, but the later version comes much closer.

Of course, the Wachowski Brothers had the advantage of writing the script and overseeing its realization into the finished film. Most screenwriters don't have that level of control. But from this example, we can see the importance of conveying the visceral feel of a fight scene.

We may not need the exact choreography, but we need to know, at least in the broad strokes, what makes our own fight scenes feel different from every other rock 'em-sock 'em scene in every other movie.

(Special note about It's a brilliant site that anyone interested in screenplays should have bookmarked in their favorites. Check it out!)

Friday, January 13, 2012

ScriptWalk: Jaws, part 3 (Quint!)

This is the third and final portion of my ScriptWalk for Jaws.

I could probably write about Jaws forever, really, but you guys would all get bored and start throwing your shoes at me. And shoes hurt.

Part one covered Chief Brody. Part two was Matt Hooper. So in this final chapter, I'm going to take a look at the changes that were made to the script that involved everyone's favorite shark hunter, Quint.

Quint has some really excellent, show-stopping scenes in Jaws. Two of my favorites are his initial intro scene, and the famous Indianapolis scene.

Meet Quint

First off, his intro scene. Which was not originally intended to be his intro scene. In fact, Quint's original intro scene was cut from the final film, but here it is, thanks to the magic of the intertubes:

Yup. In both versions of the script, Quint heads into a music store to buy some #12 piano wire and decides to take a little time out of his busy day to torment a small child. There's a little tweaking between drafts, but it's pretty much the same scene.

It's not a bad scene; short, effective, funny, and a pretty good primer for Quint's general crustiness. But it feels a little extraneous to the plot, and the movie is certainly tighter without it. Had it been left in, this scene would have taken place shortly before the attack on Alex Kintner.

Now, let's take a look at Quint's introduction in the final film, which takes place after the shark eats Alex. The town council is in a panic; half the townspeople are afraid of the shark, but the other half is afraid of the business they'll lose if the mayor closes the beaches. Meanwhile, Alex Kintner's mother has offered a $3000 reward to whoever can catch the shark that ate her kid:

Jesus Christ, what a scene. The world grinds to a screeching halt while Quint makes his offer to the townspeople. It's a fantastic speech, peppered with some great bits of foreshadowing (emphasis mine):

       (after taking
       a deep breath)
      You all know me.  You know what I
      do for a living.  I'll go out and
      get this bird for you.  He's a bad
      one and it's not like goin' down
      the pond chasing blue-gills and
      tommy-cods.  This is a fish that
      can swallow a man whole.  A little
      shakin', a little tenderizing and
      down ya' go.

Quint is, of course, describing his own death in the jaws (ahem) of the shark:

A little shakin', a little tenderizing...

So, this scene works great on a couple levels. It's a very memorable introduction to the character of Quint, it nicely outlines the dilemma facing the town, and it foreshadows some of the action ahead. Most notably, Quint describes his own death in his very first scene. Trippy.

The speech is mostly there in the later (Gottlieb) version of the script, with a few things missing:


  He has just run his large, coarse fingernails over the black-
  board.  He is a large, rough man, a professional fisherman
  marked by daily physical toil,  About 45 or 50, it's hard to
  tell where the scars leave off and the wrinkles begin.  There
  is a bit of the showman in him, as well as a bit of killer-

       (after taking
       a deep breath)
      You all know me.  You know what I
      do for a living.  I'll go out and
      get this bird for you.  He's a bad
      one and it's not like goin' down
      the pond chasing blue-gills and
      tommy-cods.  This is a fish that
      can swallow a man whole.  A little
      shakin', a little tenderizing and
      down ya' go.
       (a look to Vaughn)
      You gotta get this fellow and get
      him quick.  If you do, it'll bring
      a lot of tourist business just to
      see him and you've got your busi-
      ness back on a paying basis.
      A shark of that size is no pleasure
      and I value my neck at a hell of a
      lot more'n 3,000 bucks.
       (a deadly look)
      I'll find him for three.  But I'll
      kill him for ten.
  Crowd reaction.
       (he rises up)
      The bastard is costing you more'n
      that every day.  Do you wanna stay
      alive and annee up the ten or play
      it cheap and be on welfare next
       (a final moment)
      I'm gonna kill this thing...just a
      matter of whether I do it now -- or
      at the end of summer.

      Thank you very much, Mr. Quint,
      the Selectmen will take your offer
      under advisement.

The lines about Quint not wanting any mates must have been added later, as was "For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing." Which really just caps the whole thing off nicely, doesn't it? In the film, Quint then gets up and walks about, followed by his... friend? Associate? Assistant? Gimp? The weird guy with the dog, whoever he is.

Now let's take a look at this speech in the original version of the script, to see how much it changed.

Oh, wait, we can't do that, because in the original version of this scene, Quint isn't even there.

Seriously. Imagine that scene again, but instead of Quint, it's the weird little gimp guy, whose name is apparently Salvatore (in this version, anyway. Looks like it's Herschel in the other version). Salvatore shows up at the meeting and delivers the offer from Quint.

Honest. It's right here:

  Vaughn opens the door to the Bureau of Records.  About two
  dozen children sit around, twisting multi-colored Kleenex
  into artificial flowers for the big parade.  Vaughn turns
  his face into a condescending grin.

      Could the big people have a grownup
      meeting in here, please, children.

      Get lost.

  A voice from behind Vaughn draws him away.  It is a small
  but muscular black man named Salvatore.

      Mr. Vaughn?

  He steps out of the shadows, hat in hand.

      Mister Quint sent me down from

      What for?

      Well...he out catchin' them things
      every day practily.  Price's right,
      he come catch yours here.

      What's he get?

      Ten thousand and a color TV.

      How much?

      Twenty-seven inch.  Japanese one.

  Vaughn studies the little blinking man, ready to laugh.

      Mister Quint's services are not
      required, thanks.
       (stopping a secretary)
      Is there an empty office anywhere
      in this goddam building?

      Weights and Measures nobody ever

  Vaughn starts away and the crowd follows.

      I'd haul it in myself before I'd
      pay anything to that
      wanna hear what he did to three
      friends of mine on a Saint Valentine's
      Day sporting charter?

Well. That was a little different huh? Assuming they'd kept the music store scene, I wonder if you'd even remember who Quint was while Salvatore was talking about him?

The Indianapolis

Of course, the intro scene isn't the only amazing Quint speech in the film.

As the sun sets on their first full day of shark-chasing, Quint, Brody, and Hooper sit in the galley, comparing tattoos and then... aw hell, who am I kidding? Here's the scene:

Again, a show-stopper. This scene was about as true a group effort as you can get in screenwriting, with Benchley, Gottlieb, John Milius, and Robert Shaw all taking a crack at the famous monologue. In the end, it was Shaw's version that resonated, and the result is what you see in the film.

Let's go back to the early script, Benchley's version, to see how this scene started out:

  Hooper shrugs.  Quint hands him the bottle.  Hooper cocks
  his head, noticing a scar patch on Quint's right forearm.

      How'd you get that one?

  Quint, staring out to sea, doesn't seem to hear Hooper.
  The signal light disappears.

      Down again.

      The scar on your arm.

      Had a tattoo there.

      Changed your mind about somebody?

       (shaking his head)
      It said 'U.S.S. Indianapolis.'

 191 CLOSE - HOOPER        191

  His face falls as he hears this.  Quint looks at him ironi-

      Guess you experts know about that.

  Once again Quint turns his eyes to the sea.

      You were on her?  June '45?

       (flat and quiet)
      On her and torpedoed right off her.
      Into the drink with 900 other clowns
      ...Started with 900 anyway...floating
      in that big warm Pacific.
       (the light surfaces again)
      Must have been like a dinner bell
      in there...Explosions, and half
      the guys bleeding.  Soon as the
      sharks came homing in on us, we
      went by the Manual, of course...
      Kept trying to float in groups...
      doin' what if said, splash at 'em,
      yell at 'em, hit 'em on the nose,
      they won't bother you...all that.
      They tore apart about a hundred
      men, the first night.  And pretty
      soon, when they stepped it up, and
      you'd feel 'em bump you, and guys'd
      get pulled down a couple of yards
      away, and it got to two days...and
      three...Well, some fellas couldn't
      take it no more, just peeled off
      their life-jackets, got it over with
      ...We were in the water 110 hours.
      Sharks averaged six men an hour.
       (nails Hooper
       a hard look)
      They're all experts.
       (spits in the ocean)

       (weakened by the story)
      Jesus, Quint!  You can't blame ---

  Hooper is interrupted by the boom and banshee cries of
  a distant whale. 

A short little speech, with just the seeds of the monologue we'll see later. Quint seems the most angry at Hooper, of all people, for being a shark expert when the "experts" who wrote his old Navy survival manual clearly had no idea what they were talking about.

Spielberg knew that this needed to be a big scene, and Gottlieb certainly expanded on Benchley's version. Here's what we see in Gottlieb's version of the speech:

189 CLOSE ON QUINT         189

      Yeah.  The U.S.S. Indianapolis.
      June 29th, 1945, three and a half
      minutes past midnight, two torpedoes
      from a Japanese submarine slammed
      into our side.  Two or three.  We
      was still under sealed orders after
      deliverin' the bomb...the Hiroshima
      bomb...we was goin' back across the
      Pacific from Tinian to Leyte.  Damn
      near eleven hundred men went over
      the side.  The life boats was lashed
      down so tight to make the bomb run
      we couldn't cut a single one adrift.
      Not one.  And there was no rafts.

      That vessel sank in twelve minutes.
      Yes, that's all she took.

      We didn't see the first shark till
      we'd been in the water about an hour.
      A thirteen-footer near enough.  A
      blue.  You measure that by judgin'
      the dorsal to the tail.  What we
      didn't know...of course the Captain
      knew...I guess some officers knew
      ...was the bomb mission had been so
      secret, no distress signals was sent.
      What the men didn't know was that
      they wouldn't even list us as over-
      due for a week.  Well, I didn't know
      that -- I wasn't an officer -- just
      as well perhaps.

      So some of us were dead already --
      in the water -- just hangin' limp
      in our lifejackets.  And several
      already bleedin'.  And the three
      hundred or so laying on the bottom
      of the ocean.

      As the light went, the sharks came
      crusin'.  We formed tight groups --
      somewhat like squares in an old
      battle -- You know what I mean --
      so that when one come close, the man
      nearest would yell and shout and
      pound the water and sometimes it
      worked and the fish turned away, but
      other times that shark would seem to
      look right at a man -- right into
      his eyes -- and in spite of all
      shoutin' and poundin' you'd hear
      that terrible high screamin' and
      the ocean would go red, then churn
      up as they ripped him.  Then we'd
      reform our little squares.

      By the first dawn the sharks had
      taken more than a hundred.  Hard
      for me to count but more than a
      hundred.  I don't know how many
      sharks.  Maybe a thousand.  I do
      know they averaged six men an hour.
      All kinds -- blues, makos, tigers.
      All kinds.

      In the middle of the second day, some
      of us started to go crazy from the
      thirst.  One fella cried out he
      saw a river, another claimed he saw
      a waterfall, some started to drink
      the ocean and choked on it, and
      some left our little groups --
      our little squares -- and swam off
      alone lookin' for islands and the
      sharks always took them right away.
      It was mainly the young fellas that
      did that -- the older ones stayed
      where they was.

      That second day -- my life jacket
      rubbed me raw and that was more
      blood in the water.  Oh my.

      On Thursday morning I bumped up
      against a friend of mine -- Herbie
      Robinson from Cleveland -- a bosun's
      mate -- it seemed he was asleep but
      when I reached over to waken him,
      he bobbed in the water and I saw
      his body upend because he'd been
      bitten in half beneath the waist.

      Well Chief, so it went on -- bombers
      high overhead but nobody noticin'
      us.  Yes -- suicides, sharks, and
      all this goin' crazy and dyin' of

      Noon the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a
      Lockheed Ventura swung around and
      came in low.  Yes.  He did that.
      Yes, that pilot saw us.

      And early evenin', a big fat PBY
      come down out of the sky and began
      the pickup.  That was when I was
      most frightened of all -- while I
      was waitin' for my turn.  Just two
      and a half hours short of five days
      and five nights when they got to
      me and took me up.

      Eleven hundred of us went into that
      ocean -- three hundred and sixteen
      got out.  Yeah.  Nineteen hundred
      and forty five.  June the 29th.
      Anyway, we delivered the bomb. 

There's a lot of stuff here that we'll see in the final version. But the spirit of the speech still isn't quite there yet. Part of that is the way Shaw delivers it: he grins through almost the entire speech, like he was telling some big lark of a story. "A funny thing happened on the way back from delivering the bomb..."

But the speech itself is much more intense in the final version. The description of the shark itself is chilling, and it doesn't find its way into the speech until Shaw's version: And the idea was, the shark nearest man and then he'd start poundin' and hollerin' and screamin' and sometimes the shark would go away. Sometimes he wouldn't go away. Sometimes that shark, he looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a shark, he's got... lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white. And then, ah then you hear that terrible high pitch screamin' and the ocean turns red and spite of all the poundin' and the hollerin' they all come in and rip you to pieces.

Another detail that doesn't come up until Shaw's version is this: You know that was the time I was most frightened? Waitin' for my turn. I'll never put on a lifejacket again

A single line, almost thrown away at the end of the speech, but it sums up Quint's entire philosophy, and hangs a bright red light on the fact that Quint is on a suicide mission, and he knows it. He's going to kill this shark or die trying. No rescue. No lifejacket. (Which probably explains why his first mate refuses to go out on this hunt with him, earlier in the movie. He knows that Quint has a deathwish.) 

Quint was always intended to be an Ahab-like character. Early drafts of the film even have him watching the film version of Moby Dick, just to drive the point home:

 136 INT. MOVIE HOUSE       136

 137 FULL SCREEN        137

  Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab in an outpouring of classic
  Melville.  The white whale explodes through the waves and
  crushes sixteen harpooners.  A single sandpapery laugh
  accompanies each special effect.

 138 ANGLE - MOVIE HOUSE       138

  Quint sits in the center aisle, popcorn and ju-ju-bees
  stuffing his face.  The splayed projection beams dance
  around his head as he roars with amusement.  People are
  getting up and moving away from him.  He is watching with
  delight, slapping his thigh, thumping the seat-back with
  his feet.

 139 FULL MOVIE SCREEN       139

  We watch as Ahab gets tangled in the line and dragged under
  by the whale.  Quint can be heard OVER.

What is this, Cape Fear?

Anyway, despite the intention of making Quint a modern-day Ahab, the movie never really pulls this off until the Indianapolis scene was perfected. Watching that scene, you really get the feeling that Quint is not exactly... y'know... sane. Which makes it mush more plausible when he goes nuts and smashes the radio to pieces with a bat when Brody tries to call for help.

In the earlier drafts, Quint seems motivated by money and a dislike of sharks. By the time Shaw gets done with him, we can see that Quint is obsessed with killing this shark as a form of revenge against all sharks, everywhere.

Character Spectrum

Okay, I'm almost done, and if you're still with me, you deserve a medal. I just wanted to say one more thing about the characters of Jaws.

It's interesting to line these characters up and see how they represent the different forces at work on Brody, who is action-oriented, but almost neutral.

Mayor Vaughn: Denial, Inaction, Blindness.

Matt Hooper: Curiosity, Clarity, Vision

Brody: Action, but held back by self-doubt.

Quint: Madness, Obsession.

At the start of the movie, Brody leaps into action to close the beaches, but it easily sucked back into inaction by Mayor Vaughn. It's not until Matt Hooper arrives that Brody is able to see through the blindness affecting the town and start taking more proactive steps; cutting open the tiger shark, getting a beach patrol set up.

But it's not until Brody teams up with Quint that he gains a killer instinct. Remember, Brody left NYC because of the violence:

I'm telling ya, the crime rate in New York will kill ya. There's so many problems, you never feel like your accomplishing anything. Violence, rip-offs, muggings, kids can't leave the house, you gotta walk `em to school. But in Amity, one man can make a difference. In twenty five years, there's never been a shooting or murder in this town. 

Brody is passive, both in his willingness to go along with Mayor Vaughn's blindness, and in his distaste for violence.

Just as Hooper is essential to making Brody see, Quint is essential to waking up Brody's violent side. But Quint is too far in this direction; and Brody and Hooper both almost pay the price for teaming up with him. In the end, Quint's obsessive, violent hatred destroys his own ship and gets him killed.

But Brody uses symbolic tools from both Quint (the rifle, or violence) and Hooper (the scuba tank, or exploration/knowledge) to destroy the shark. He internalizes Hooper's drive to see more with Quint's bloodthirsty nature, and with those aspects of himself back in balance, is able to kill the shark.

The first time, anyway. Let's not get into the sequels. 

(Quint image from Empire Online.)