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15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Jaws

Steven Spielberg’s monster fish tale became an instant classic following its 1975 release—and the story of its creation is just as interesting as the film itself. Savor Jaws even more knowing these 15 fascinating tidbits.

1. The film is adapted from author Peter Benchley’s bestselling novel of the same name.

Benchley based his thriller on a series of shark attacks that occurred off the coast of New Jersey in 1916 and after an incident where a New York fisherman named Frank Mundus caught a 4500-lb. shark off the coast of Montauk in 1964. Other title ideas Benchley had before settling on Jaws were The Stillness in the Water, The Silence of the Deep, Leviathan Rising, and The Jaws of Death.

2. Benchley himself makes a cameo in the film.

He plays the news reporter who addresses the camera on the beach. Benchley had previously worked as a news reporter for the Washington Post before penning Jaws.

3. The shark doesn’t fully appear in a shot until 1 hour and 21 minutes into the 2-hour film.

While the lack of shark appearances works to heighten the film’s tension, the real reason it isn’t shown is because the mechanical shark that was built rarely worked during filming. Director Steven Spielberg had to create inventive ways (like Quint’s yellow barrels) to shoot around the non-functional shark.  

4. To create the fictional town of Amity, the film shot on location in Edgartown and Menemsha on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Strict land ordinances kept the production from building anywhere—Quint’s shack was the one and only set built for the movie, and the defaced Amity Island billboard had to be constructed, have the scenes around it shot, and taken down all in one day. 

5. Spielberg nicknamed the shark “Bruce,” after his lawyer, Bruce Ramer.

Ramer also represents Demi Moore, Ben Stiller, and Clint Eastwood.

6. The opening sequence took three days to film.

To achieve the jolting motions of the shark attacking the swimmer, a harness with cables was attached to actress Susan Backlinie’s legs and was pulled by crewmembers back and forth along the shoreline. Spielberg didn’t alert Backlinie as to when she would be “attacked,” so her terrified reaction is genuine.

7. Richard Dreyfuss wasn’t Spielberg’s first choice to play oceanographer Matt Hooper.

Spielberg initially approached Jon Voight, Timothy Bottoms, and Jeff Bridges for the role. When none of them could commit, Spielberg’s friend George Lucas suggested Richard Dreyfuss, whom Lucas had directed in his film American Graffiti

8. Roy Scheider was cast after eavesdropping on Spielberg at a party.

Scheider overheard Spielberg talking to a friend at a Hollywood party about the scene where the shark leaps out of the water and onto Quint’s boat. Scheider was instantly enthralled, and asked Spielberg if he could be in the film. Spielberg loved Scheider from his role in the Academy Award winning film The French Connection, and later offered the actor the leading part of Chief Martin Brody. 

9. Robert Shaw’s performance was based on a real guy.

Shaw modeled Quint on Martha’s Vineyard native and fisherman Craig Kingsbury, a non-actor who appears as Ben Gardner in the film. Kingsbury helped Shaw with his accent and allegedly told Shaw old sea stories that the actor incorporated into his improvised dialogue as Quint. 

10. Brody’s famous “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” line wasn’t in the script.

It was entirely improvised by Roy Scheider. 

11. The film almost included a love triangle.

Early scripts included an affair between Hooper and Chief Brody’s wife. 

12. Jaws was initially rated R by the MPAA.

After selected gruesome frames of the shot showing the severed leg of the man attacked by the shark in the estuary were trimmed down, the film was given a PG rating (the PG-13 rating wasn’t created until Spielberg’s film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom nine years later).

13. The film’s iconic poster image was designed by artist Roger Kastel for the paperback edition of Benchley’s book.

Kastel modeled the image of the massive shark emerging from the bottom of the frame after a great white shark diorama at the American Museum of Natural History. The female swimmer at the top was actually a model that Kastel was sketching at his studio for an ad in Good Housekeeping. He asked her to stay a half-hour longer and had her pose for the image by lying on a stool and pretending to swim.

14. The sole music notes played for composer John Williams’ Jaws theme are E and F.

Jaws marked the second time Williams worked with Spielberg after his film The Sugarland Express, and Williams would go on to compose the music for every Spielberg movie up to the present. 

15. Steven Spielberg didn’t direct the shot of the shark exploding.

In fact, he had already returned to Los Angeles after the film’s grueling shooting schedule to begin post-production on the film and left the shot up to the production’s second unit.

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13 Great Jack Nicholson Quotes
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI

Jack Nicholson turns 81 today. Let's celebrate with some of the actor's wit and wisdom.

1. ON ADVICE

"I hate advice unless I'm giving it. I hate giving advice, because people won't take it."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

2. ON REGRETS

"Not that I can think of. I’m sure there are some, but my mind doesn’t go there. When you look at life retrospectively you rarely regret anything that you did, but you might regret things that you didn’t do."

From an interview with The Talks

3. ON DEATH

"I'm Irish. I think about death all the time. Back in the days when I thought of myself as a serious academic writer, I used to think that the only real theme was a fear of death, and that all the other themes were just that same fear, translated into fear of closeness, fear of loneliness, fear of dissolving values. Then I heard old John Huston talking about death. Somebody was quizzing him about the subject, you know, and here he is with the open-heart surgery a few years ago, and the emphysema, but he's bounced back fit as a fiddle, and he's talking about theories of death, and the other fella says, 'Well, great, John, that's great ... but how am I supposed to feel about it when you pass on?' And John says, 'Just treat it as your own.' As for me, I like that line I wrote that, we used in The Border, where I said, 'I just want to do something good before I die.' Isn't that what we all want?"

From an interview with Roger Ebert

4. ON NERVES

''There's a period of time just before you start a movie when you start thinking, I don't know what in the world I'm going to do. It's free-floating anxiety. In my case, though, this is over by lunch the first day of shooting.''

From an interview with The New York Times

5. ON ACTING

"Almost anyone can give a good representative performance when you're unknown. It's just easier. The real pro game of acting is after you're known—to 'un-Jack' that character, in my case, and get the audience to reinvest in a new and specific, fictional person."

From an interview with The Age

6. ON MARRIAGE

"I never had a policy about marriage. I got married very young in life and I always think in all relationships, I've always thought that it's counterproductive to have a theory on that. It's hard enough to get to know yourself and as most of you have probably found, once you get to know two people in tandem it's even more difficult. If it's going to be successful, it's going to have to be very specific and real and immediate so the more ideas you have about it before you start, it seems to me the less likely you are to be successful."

From an interview with About.com

7. ON LYING

“You only lie to two people in your life: your girlfriend and the police. Everybody else you tell the truth to.”

From a 1994 interview with Vanity Fair

8. ON HIS SUNGLASSES

"They're prescription. That's why I wear them. A long time ago, the Middle American in me may have thought it was a bit affected maybe. But the light is very strong in southern California. And once you've experienced negative territory in public life, you begin to accept the notion of shields. I am a person who is trained to look other people in the eye. But I can't look into the eyes of everyone who wants to look into mine; I can't emotionally cope with that kind of volume. Sunglasses are part of my armor."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

9. ON MISCONCEPTIONS

"I think people think I'm more physical than I am, I suppose. I'm not really confrontational. Of course, I have a temper, but that's sort of blown out of proportion."

From an interview with ESPN

10. ON DIRECTING

"I'm a different person when suddenly it's my responsibility. I'm not very inhibited in that way. I would show up [on the set of The Two Jakes] one day, and we'd scouted an orange grove and it had been cut down. You're out in the middle of nowhere and they forget to cast an actor. These are the sort of things I kind of like about directing. Of course, at the time you blow your stack a little bit. ... I'm a Roger Corman baby. Just keep rolling, baby. You've got to get something on there. Maybe it's right. Maybe it's wrong. Maybe you can fix it later. Maybe you can't. You can't imagine the things that come up when you're making a movie where you've got to adjust on the spot."

From an interview with MTV

11. ON ROGER CORMAN

"There's nobody in there, that he didn't, in the most important way support. He was my life blood to whatever I thought I was going to be as a person. And I hope he knows that this is not all hot air. I'm going to cry now."

From the documentary Corman's World

12. ON PLAYING THE JOKER

"This would be the character, whose core—while totally determinate of the part—was the least limiting of any I would ever encounter. This is a more literary way of approaching than I might have had as a kid reading the comics, but you have to get specific. ... He's not wired up the same way. This guy has survived nuclear waste immersion here. Even in my own life, people have said, 'There's nothing sacred to you in the area of humor, Jack. Sometimes, Jack, relax with the humor.' This does not apply to the Joker, in fact, just the opposite. Things even the wildest comics might be afraid to find funny: burning somebody's face into oblivion, destroying a masterpiece in a museum—a subject as an art person even made me a little scared. Not this character. And I love that."

From The Making of Batman

13. ON BASKETBALL

"I've always thought basketball was the best sport, although it wasn't the sport I was best at. It was just the most fun to watch. ... Even as a kid it appealed to me. The basketball players were out at night. They had great overcoats. There was this certain nighttime juvenile-delinquent thing about it that got your blood going."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

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There's a Simple Trick to Sort Movies and TV Shows by Year on Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

Netflix is stocked with so many movies and TV shows that it’s not always easy to actually find what you’re looking for. And while sorting by genre can help a little, even that’s a bit too broad for some. There’s one helpful hack, though, that you probably didn’t know about—and it could make the endless browsing much less painful.

As POPSUGAR reports: By simply opening Netflix up to one of its specific category pages—Horror, Drama, Comedy, Originals, etc.—you can then sort by release year with just a few clicks. All you need to do is look at the top of the page, where you’ll see an icon that looks like a box with four dots in it.

Screenshot of the Netflix Menu
Netflix

Once you click on it, it will expand to a tab labeled “Suggestions for You.” Just hit that again and a dropdown menu will appear that allows you to sort by year released or alphabetical and reverse-alphabetical orders. When sorted by release year, the more recent movies or shows will be up top and they'll get older as you scroll to the bottom of the page.


Netflix

This tip further filters your Netflix options, so if you’re in the mood for a classic drama, old-school comedy, or a retro bit of sci-fi, you don’t have to endlessly scroll through every page to find the right one.

If you want to dig deeper into Netflix’s categories, here’s a way to find all sorts of hidden ones the streaming giant doesn’t tell you about. And also check out these 12 additional Netflix tricks that should make your binge-watching that much easier.

[h/t POPSUGAR]

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