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Analysing Quint's USS Indianapolis Speech
The truth behind Jaws' most memorable monologue

Whenever there are top ten movie speeches polls, Quint's Indianapolis speech is right up there with On The Waterfront's "I coulda been a contender" or The Third Man's "Cuckoo clock speech". The authorship of the speech is long debated — writers Howard Sackler and John Milius and Robert Shaw all had a hand — and the effect — it enriches Quint's character and the whole shark hunt in a heartbeat — is undeniable. But what is up for debate is the veracity of his take on the story. What follows is Quint's version of events annotated with some colour and corrections….
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Analysing Quint's USS Indianapolis Speech

"Japanese submarineCommanded by Lieutenant Commander Mochitsura Hashimoto, the I-58 was the most advanced submarine in the Japanese fleet. It's remit was to patrol the waters east of the Phillipines. Sweeping the waters near Guam, Hashimoto's crew spotted the Indy and, at 12.04 July 30th 1945, fired 1,210lb of explosives the vessel. The first torpedo struck the Indy's bow. The second torpedo hit a gas tank containing 3.500 gallons of aviation fluid. slammed two torpedoes into our side, chief. It was comin' back, from the island of TinianTinian is one of the three principal islands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. It played host to the airfield that was base for the 509th composite group that flew the atomic bomb missions to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. To LeyteThe Leyte Gulf is a body of water east of Leyte in the Phillipines. It was the scene of the largest naval battle of the second world war. The Indianapolis was en route to join the USS Idaho for gunnery practice and refresher training — they were due to join the fleet at Okinawa for the expected invasion of Japan., just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bombFollowing damage sustained by a Kamikaze attack, the USS Indianapolis, the pride of the US fleet, was forced for repairs at Mare Island Navy Yard. This was in close proximity to Los Alamos, the base for the Manhattan project — the code name for the operation to develop the atomic bomb. Neither Captain Charles McVay or the Indy crew were what the cargo was and were under strict instructions to throw the cargo overboard if captured.. Eleven hundred men went into the waterOf the 1,197 men on board, 880 went into the water. Quint overstates the amount killed by sharks: most died by sustained injuries, some chopped up by the ship's spinning blades as they jumped from the keel.. Vessel went down in 12 minutes.The ship took on water, listing to 15 degrees, then 45 degrees. The call to abandon ship came just eight minutes after the torpedo hit. Didn't see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger.Tiger sharks were a minor part of the freeding frenzy, makos, blues and oceanic whitetips doing the bulk of the eating. Sharks often tracked vessels stimulated by the electric currents. Thirteen-footer. You know, you know that when you're in the water, Chief? You tell by lookin' from the dorsal to the tail. Well, we didn't know. 'Cause our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sentDeclassified records show that the Indy did send out three distress calls after the attack but none were dealt with: the first recipient commander was drunk, the second had posted a Do Not Disturb sign and never received a message and the third message was deemed a Japanese prank.. Huh huh. They didn't even list us overdue for a week. At very first light, Chief, The time of the attack saved lives — the torpedo hit within moments of a change of watch, meaning that most of the crew were still awake. Either side of that and there were would have been many more fatalities. the sharks come cruisin'. So we formed ourselves into tight groupsThe sailors were scattered across thousands of yards of open sea. The largest cluster was 300 strong. The sinking ship spewed gallons of toxic fuel into the sea, coating the sea and sailors in sticky, black goo.. You know it's... kinda like 'ol squares in battle like a, you see on a calendar, like the battle of Waterloo. 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. The sailors at the greatest risk were those naked or half-naked, as the sharks zeroed in on the colour contrast between pale bodies and blue-black sea. Sometimes the 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 eyesShark's, like cats, have a mirror-like layer in the back of their eye known as the tapetum lucidium that increases the eye's sensitivity to light — sharks are ten times more sensitive to light as humans.. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over whiteMost species of sharks have nictitating membranes that cover their eyes during hunting. Great Whites do not have this membrane but roll their eyes back to protect themselves when attacking.. 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. Y'know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men!On Wednesday August 1, 50 men were killed in a ten minute burst — mainly because men started to turn on each other rather than sharks. I don't know how many sharks, maybe a thousand! I don't know how many men, they averaged six an hour. On Thursday mornin' Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player, boatswain's mate. I thought he was asleep, reached over to wake him up. Bobbed up and down in the water, just like a kinda top. Up ended. Well... he'd been bitten in half below the waist. Noon the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us, he swung in low and he saw us. He's a young pilotLt. Chuck Gwinn was 24 years old. Piloting The Lockheed Ventura PV-1, he spotted the oil slick and initially believed it to be a sub. Opening bomb bay doors to drop a depth charge, he noticed the drowning sailors and radioed his base at Palau., a lot younger than Mr. Hooper, anyway he saw us and come in low. And three hours later a big fat PBY comes down and start to pick us upThe Catalina PBY flying boat, piloted by R. Adrian Marks, was dispatched to drop lifeboats and supplies. Noticing the extent of the carnage, Marks abandoned his orders and landed the plane on the dangerous seas — at this point Marks didn't know whether the endangered were American, German, Japanese and British.. You know that was the time I was most frightened? Waitin' for my turn. I'll never put on a lifejacket againMany of the men were so worn down by treading water that the moment they slipped off the life jackets, they drowned from exhaustion. Some lashed themselves onto the fabrc covered wings with parachute cords. 56 men were saved that way.. So, eleven hundred men went in the water, three hundred and sixteen men come outThe figure is sometimes reported as 316 or 318., the sharks took the rest, June the 29, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb."

~ Quint

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Your Comments

1 Shaws best line
"...for 15 long years she kept her virginity...not a bad reputation for this vicinity..." Read More

Posted on Friday September 7, 2012, 11:10 by davidkie

2 "I'll Never Put On A Lifejacket Again"
Give an actor of the caliber of Robert Shaw a speech like this and he'll eat up the screen and he did, drawing you in with those staring blue eyes of his and that hint of craziness in his voice. It's more spellbinding than the shark itself which is just a prop anyway. Most horror directors today focus on CGI props now instead of character and psychology like this masterful piece of writing did and it worked brilliantly. Read More

Posted on Wednesday September 5, 2012, 22:22 by BenTramer

Make movies like they used to in the 70s and early 80s. No more remakes, prequels and other crap! This scene encapsulates all that was great about cinema at that time. Shame it is lost. Read More

Posted on Tuesday September 4, 2012, 08:42 by El-Branden Brazil

4 quint-essential!
probably the first time i realised (and I was 6 at the time) that this movie was WAAAAAY cooler than other stuff out there. I didn't really understand what this crazy old sea dog was rattling on about but he was so unhinged and so utterly compelling to watch at the the same time I just knew this was movie gold. Jaws got me into movies - from that day, I was hooked. Thank god I was born at the right time! Read More

Posted on Monday September 3, 2012, 20:09 by leroythemasochist

5 Quint Speech
Priceless!! Read More

Posted on Monday September 3, 2012, 12:39 by merees

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