BRODY: Come here. Give us a kiss.
BRODY: Because I need it. Get out of here.
HOOPER: The door was open. Mind if I come in? I’m Matt Hooper.
ELLEN: Oh, hi. Ellen Brody.
HOOPER: Your husband’s home? I’d really like to talk to him.
ELLEN: Yes, so would I. Can I get you some coffee? Wine. How nice.
HOOPER: How was your day?
HOOPER: I got red and white. I didn’t know what you’d be serving.
ELLEN: That’s nice.
HOOPER: Is anyone eating this?
ELLEN: My husband tells me you’re in sharks.
HOOPER: Excuse me. Yes, I’ve never heard it quite put that way. But yes, I am. I love sharks.
ELLEN: You love sharks?
HOOPER: Yeah, I love them. When I was 12 years old, my father got me a boat, and I went fishing off of Cape Cod.
I hooked a scup and as I was reeling it in I hooked a four and a half foot baby thresher shark who proceeded to eat my boat. He ate my oar, hooks. and my seat cushions. He turned an inboard into an outboard. Scared me to death and I swam back to shore. When I was on the beach I turned around and I saw my boat being taken apart. Ever since then, I have been studying sharks and that’s why I’m gonna go to the institute tomorrow and tell them that you still have a shark problem here.
BRODY: Why do you have to tell them that?
ELLEN: I’m sorry, I thought that…. You told me the shark was caught. I heard it on the news. I heard it on the Cape station.
HOOPER: They caught a shark, not the shark. Not the shark that killed Chrissy Watkins. And probably not the shark that killed the little boy. Which I wanted to prove by cutting the shark open… You may want to let that breathe…. Nothing. … Yeah, yeah. … You’ll be the only rational man left on this island after I leave tomorrow.
ELLEN: Where are you going?
HOOPER: I am going on the Aurora.
ELLEN: The Aurora? What is that?
HOOPER: It’s a floating asylum for shark addicts. Pure research. Eighteen months at sea.
ELLEN: Martin hates boats. Martin hates water. Martin sits in his car when we go on the ferry to the mainland. I guess it’s a childhood thing. There’s a clinical name for it, isn’t there?
BRODY: Drowning. Is it true that most people get attacked by sharks in three feet of water about 10 feet from the beach?
BRODY: And before people started to swim for recreation — I mean, before sharks knew what they were missing — that a lot of these attacks weren’t reported?
HOOPER: That’s right.
BRODY: Now this shark that swims alone, what’s it called?
BRODY: Rogue, yeah. Now, this guy he keeps swimmin’ around in a place where the feeding is good… until the food supply is gone. Right?
HOOPER: That’s called territoriality. It’s just a theory that I happen to agree with.
BRODY: Then why don’t we have one more drink and go down and cut that shark open?
ELLEN: Can you do that?
BRODY: I can do anything. I’m the Chief of Police.
— Jaws (1975), Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb, book by Peter Benchley
The Daily Dialogue theme for the week is dinner scene, suggested by Turambar. Today’s suggestion by Butch Maier.
Trivia: Producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown optioned the film rights to the novel for $175,000 in a deal which also included a first-draft screenplay from author Peter Benchley. This draft, extremely faithful to the novel, would later be rejected by Steven Spielberg. The subsequent two drafts from Benchley would also be rejected.
Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Butch: “What to learn from the “Jaws” dinner scene:
Much can be accomplished in a short amount of time in one location — even one as seemingly static as a table.
The scene before this one, Brody gets slapped in the face by Mrs. Kintner, whose son had been eaten after the chief knew there was a killer shark in the water.
So the dinner scene opens with Brody deep in thought at the table and a cute exchange — much needed as a relief from the tension after the slap — as young son Sean imitates his mannerisms. Ellen observes. Brody notices and they exchange scowls. That’s when the dad leans in to ask for a kiss because he needs it.
The kid leaves, and there’s a knock at the door. Hooper, the shark scientist, says he’d like to talk to Ellen’s husband, to which the wife replies, “So would I.” Those three words say a ton.
Brody is brooding and lets the others do most of the talking. But the focus still is on him.
Hooper asks, “How was your day?” Brody responds, “Swell.” Hooper knew the real answer to the question. Ellen knew. The audience knew. Yet the downplayed one-word false answer helps connect everyone even more — because we share in knowing the real truth.
Hooper brought two bottles of wine and helps himself to the leftovers, leading to him nearly choking as Ellen asks him, “So my husband tells me you’re in sharks.”
We hear a story about Hooper’s experience with sharks and why he is so fascinated. We hear a story from Ellen about Brody’s experience with the water.
There’s a good mix of hidden exposition and humor woven throughout. The audience learns about rogue sharks and the clinical name for Brody’s hatred of the water: “Drowning.”
Hooper tries to tell Brody, “You might wanna let that breathe,” as he pours the wine, but he knows Brody’s state of mind and follows it up with a humorous, “Nothing.”
When Hooper tells him they didn’t catch the right shark, Ellen is the one who debates him. Brody offers a plain-spoken question: “Why do you have to tell them that?” In other writers’ hands, Brody might have debated him. But the characters stay true to themselves. Ellen is the worrisome conversationalist. Brody is the steady man of few words.
The scene ends on a terrific button. Brody says to Hooper: “Then why don’t we have one more drink and go down and cut that shark open?” Ellen sets up her husband with “Can you do that?” Brody says: “I can do anything. I’m the Chief of Police.”
I have seen the movie countless times, including with my son when it was re-released in theaters for one day last August. To see it with an audience again was a special treat. Everyone in the theater was there because they enjoyed and respected the movie. There was neither talking nor texting. There was laughter in all the right places. And when the credits rolled, there was applause.
I encourage everyone to see it again. It’s not just a summer blockbuster. It’s a well-written story with rich characters and Oscar-winning editing, sound and music. It was a best picture nominee and should have received a best director nomination and actor recognition. It’s a treasure and the reason I named my production company Sumbadhat.”