The making of Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” is legendary. Bruce the shark kept malfunctioning, there was major tension on set, and the film went way over budget. Still, despite these troubles, the film contains one of the greatest movie monologues of all time, a scene that is also a favorite of Spielberg’s (via Den of Geek). The monologue is delivered by Quint (Robert Shaw), the grizzled, Captain Ahab-like shark hunter who joins Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and Brody (Roy Scheider) on their boat, the Orca.
Sitting in the cabin one evening, Quint shares the harrowing real-life story of the USS Indianapolis, an event that mirrors their own predicament. He describes the 1945 disaster, in which “1,100 men went in the water, 316 men come out, and the sharks took the rest.” Spielberg explained in a documentary that the scene was a “Rosetta Stone for Quint’s entire character” because it reveals all of his motivations and why he feels so strongly about sharks.
The scene is delivered with a perfectly garbled drawl by Robert Shaw, who, according to co-screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, actually re-wrote much of the scene himself (via The Hollywood Reporter). As evidenced by the shocked faces of Hooper and Brody, Quint’s tale has a distressing effect on his companions, as they can only imagine the horrors he’s experienced. It’s the most grounded, restrained scene in a movie that is often said to have invented the crowd-pleasing summer blockbuster, and it’s among Spielberg’s best work.