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DID YOU READ

15 Monster-Sized Facts About Jaws

JAWS, Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, 1975

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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 New Jersey in 1916 and after an incident where a New York fisherman named Frank Mundus caught a 4,500-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 has directed in his film American Graffiti.


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

Scheider over-heard 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. 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 own 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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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…