Lost in the Movies: "I'm not crazy."

"I'm not crazy."

I can't imagine why this didn't make the finished film.

This post was originally published on The Sun's Not Yellow.


Stephen said...

Sorry about that, I got confused.

MovieMan, I still don't know whether you like this scene or not. It says 'favorite deleted scene' but that could be for any number of reasons.

Personally I think it's pretty bad.

MovieMan0283 said...


Throughout the prior scene, Shaw has performed with "professionalism", giving a "convincing" portrayal of the character. But the old man has one-upped him by making his "performance" transparent - acknowledging the artifice of the moviemaking facade and the foolishness of attempting to "act" one's way into another's shoes. The old man's acting is never disguised, and he is superior for it. Spielberg's technique complements this heightened artifice by allowing the film stock to remain grainy and washed-out and including the "stage directions" on the soundtrack. He subverts the very notions of mainstream cinema, and along with it all the assertions and fabrications and imperialist tendencies of Quint and his so-called "Greatest Generation." It's the U.S.S. Indianapolis in a celluloid microcosm, with editing shears and camera serving as circling fins, the old man's purposefully broken delivery as blood in the water, and the final "Cut" as the last chomp of the shark's jaws.

This scene - a metatextual revelation of the underlying generational conflict in Jaws - was to be the linchpin of the finished film. The studio hacks made Spielberg cut it out of the finished product, in the greatest bastardization of an artist's work since executes axed the scene in The Magnificent Ambersons where Welles admits that Citizen Kane was just a hoax to fool generations of movie critics and then confesses to being the Black Dahlia killer (a rupture of the fourth wall which producers feared would "spoil" these later murders for 1942 audiences).

All in good fun, Stevie! ;)

The scene is my "favorite" because the actor is obviously a Martha's Vineyard local who can't act a wink, but was given his shot at a film scene either as a sentimental gesture or for some political reason. Shaw tries ever so hard to act against this void. I'm surmising but to me that last glare offscreen is him saying to Spielberg, "You ever do this to me again, I'll kill you."

When I stumbled across this scene on the DVD with friends we laughed and laughed and laughed. It's become something of a running joke with my dad and I and seeing it the other night I felt I had to put it up online and share the laughter. Ah, well. (Unless your own response is in turn tongue-in-cheek in which case - you got me!)

MovieMan0283 said...

This exchange gets right down to the heart of the dynamics at play in Jaws: the passing of the torch from one generation of hunter to the next (eventually Shaw's character, with his traditional swaggering machismo will be castrated by the shark and Roy Scheider will take up the rifle, modern man's mechanical substitute penis to kill the terrorizing phallus of Nature). In this scene, the old generation - the one that knows its place and has humility before the Nature-Phallus - is admonishing the slightly younger, middle-aged age group, as represented by Quint.

The alliterative play of the old man (I quit, Quint, I quit) and the repetition reveal that he sees himself as a poet figure, while Quint is a man strictly of prose. He is the postwar world with its rapacious greed, its hubris, its lack of prostrate humility before Nature, depsite the facade of the flinty old sea salt. "I'm not crazy" could be the last dying grasp of the beaten-down World War I veterans, the Lost Generation who were disillusioned and could not continue to believe in the American Dream.

By circling the chair, the old man is creating a ritualistic motion, a tribal dance to reassert his primal knowledge. Finally he disappears, dying from the screen space as we all must but with more grace than Quint's eventual demise. And Quint/Shaw turns his gaze towards us, the audience, and Spielberg, he of the next generation, one more questioning of mankind's forward progress. As if to stare us down. Spielberg yells "Cut" asserting final control over the scene and reminding Quint/Shaw that, for all his arrogance and machismo, it is youth which calls the shots.

(continued below)

Stephen said...


Hahaha! What a response! God, you had me there. I was starting to feel awfully bad about not liking or 'getting' it.

In one of my original and garbled comments I called this scene "the holy grail of bad" but thought I'd tone it down.

In fact I've been thinking recently about the value of insincere film criticism.

MovieMan0283 said...

Me too - and I mean that sincerely.

Stephen said...


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