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.)