Ever heard of Robert Shaw? Don’t worry, most haven’t; I’m sure you’ve seen him though. He’s best remembered for his world class portrayal of Quint in Jaws. A role, seemingly only he could fill. Jaws was a great movie, the first big summer blockbuster. But, beneath the action and the hype lies only one great character with a commanding personality. Let’s take a look at Quint from Jaws.
A simple of fisherman of humble beginnings, Quint was by all means an ordinary guy. He sailed for the US Navy during World War II aboard the USS Indianapolis. The ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine leaving Quint and 1100 of his fellow sailors stranded at sea. No distress signal was sent out and no search party was formed. For 5 days he floated along watching his friends and comrades being eaten alive by the sharks that swam those waters. This was Quint’s first run-in with the big fish. His very survival was at stake and he all but accepted death before being spotted by a plane overhead and being rescued. It was here that Quint decided he would never again where a life vest, he would never subject himself to that fear again.
In the movie Jaws, we see Quint years later as an eccentric fisherman. One brave and foolhardy who seems to be the town’s only hope. It’s well over half way into the film when Quint really comes into his own. With his simple working-class hero mannerisms and his hero bravado, Quint steals the stage. And he isn’t just a tough guy, he’s got a funny bone or two as well. The best Quint quote has got to be
“Here lies the body of Mary Lee; died at the age of a hundred and three. For fifteen years she kept her virginity; not a bad record for this vicinity.”
Despite having lived through what he has and the things he’s seen, Quint doesn’t let much get to him. He can always be found singing his favorite old sailing tune, Spanish Ladies. Quint fearlessly commands his ship the Orca as he hunts down the one who became known as Jaws. Sadly Quint does not survive the journey but hi fearless leadership and steadfast dedication allowed Brody and Hooper to finally take out the Great White.
This is the film Robert Shaw was best known for but he was also a supporting actor in The Sting and From Russia with Love. When Spielberg met Shaw he knew he was perfect for this role and cast him just weeks before shooting began.