Before Jaws, there were no summer blockbusters. In 1975, all that changed with the film of a great white shark terrorizing tourists off the coast of Amity Island.
Today’s Wednesday Warriors is all about protecting the townsfolk from the dreaded watery beast. Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), the new chief of police is that protector.
Having recently moved from the city, Chief Brody wakes up in a town filled with people who want to make the beach their home until Labor Day. First day at work and everything seems to be going fine until Brody finds himself investigating the mysterious death of a girl whose body lies in tatters by the shore.
His first instinct is to pay a visit to the town’s general store to purchase art supplies for making signs to close the beach. But once the mayor (Murray Hamilton) hears of the news that the chief wants to shut the town’s life supply of tourist dollars, Brody gets an earful from the political echelon. Forcing the beach to remain open, he takes steps to prevent anything from happening again. He had already determined the girl died of a shark attack and he didn’t want any of that happening again. Not on Brody’s watch.
Joining Chief Brody on his quest to rid the coast of the great white is Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) from the Oceanographic Institute. Unlike those working with him, Hooper’s reluctance to participate in a lynch mob against the shark sets him apart to tell the chief they are dealing with a very large shark.
The story turns sinister when everybody, including Amity’s bar hopping crowd, wants to get in on the killing. They want the shark to pay for the death that it caused, regardless if their use of dynamite could kill anyone caught near the blast.
As for Brody, he’s stuck in the middle attempting to appease the general public that he’s doing everything he can to catch the monstrous horror brutalizing the town’s tourist season, and wresting control from an ignorant mayor who prefers to see progress rather than closure for the town.
When a little boy disappears in the water however, the chief has no one else to blame but himself. Despite the protests of the mayor and the town’s commercial sector, he closes the beach until further notice. He won’t be taking any more chances.
From there, he develops a friendship with Quint (Robert Shaw), the town’s voice of reason. Although Quint might not be the type of character Brody would normally associate with, Brody gains the courage to go out in the waters to hunt and kill the great white with Quint’s help.
And here is Brody’s greatest character trait. Frightened of the water, he doesn’t balk at the fact that he needs to face his problem. He embarks on Quint’s boat and takes it upon himself to forget his fears in order to fight the very thing that is causing Amity’s trials.
When Brody comes to realize his fear of the water is nothing in comparison to seeing the great white in person, he utters one of the most famous lines in the movie:
“We’re going to need a bigger boat.”
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Have you seen Jaws? What did you enjoy most about the film?
14 thoughts on “Chief Martin Brody”
Brody eventually died due to a heart attack, though Ellen claimed that it was caused by the fear of the shark.
Roy Scheider did a lot to humanize Chief Brody’s character, and his fear of the water is a great departure from what one might expect of a police chief (or at least our stereotype of the police, at best, as being macho and fearless). I love the scenes between him and his son at the table (I believe it’s with the youngest son, Sean; later scenes between Brody and the older kid, Michael, warning him about where to take his boat are good, too), with his wife, and just the family scenes–as entres into the characters’ inner lives, so to speak. It’s too bad there’s not a strong female character in the first film (Mrs. Brody has the potential, just not the screen time; I have never read Benchley’s book, so perhaps there are some more diverse characters there). All told, however, very strong writing, filmmaking, plot, acting, and characterization put this on my favorite movies list.
Yes, Leigh! That scene with him and his son at the table, and his fills his glass with all that wine. My goodness, I wondered how on earth he was able to walk after that. And my other favorite was when Brody and the others were below deck reminiscing about their old war wounds. Great, great stuff!
Always a great movie, and I don’t think anyone could have done the character justice like Roy Scheider. Used to live near Destin, FL where it was filmed. They’re still very proud of that down there.
This movie never gets old. Never feels dated. Amazing characters, simple story.
Oh my goodness. Favorite movie of all time…so much greatness in storytelling, filmmaking and acting. Not to mention I am scarred for life forever from first seeing it at 12. I was terrified to swim in the deep end of the pool, never mind the ocean!
Great storytelling, great build up. People criticise the final appearance of the shark, but when I first saw the film as a teenager, we weren’t let down by it. My abiding memory of it, apart from Robert Shaw trapped half-in half-out of a rubber shark, was the bitten off leg sinking to the seabed!
Watched Jaws in the movie theater as a kid w my cousins…oh man, so many people were terrified to go swimming in the ocean that summer. Amazing movie, love this, Jack! Chief Brody forever ❤
That summer was such a blur to me. So many people were talking about Jaws that I don’t think there was another movie out there that could compete with it!
I recently watched Jaws one day when I was sick, after not having seen it for many many years. Even 40 years this is still a movie to keep you on the edge of your seat. Enjoyed your post, Jack, and great writing about a classic.
Loved your recap. It was like seeing the movie again. One of my favorites.
The other iconic line : ” Smile, you son of a b**ch “, & the comment ” that’s one bad hat, Harry “.
The musical intro, menacing & foreboding, is very iconic, just like ” The Indiana Jones March ” or the ” Dueling Banjos ” theme.
First time I saw the movie was as a teen and it was right before I went on my first whale watching trip. Might not have been the best combination. One thing I liked about the movie is that it did the slow reveal where you don’t see Jaws entirely until the third act. At the time, it reminded me of a few old Godzilla movies.
I saw the movie when it came out. I was vacationing in New Brunswick and swimming in the ocean! Yes the theme song went through my head while in the water.