August 26, 2019
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Here’s what happened to the fishing boat used in ‘Jaws’

| BDN
| BDN
Emmet Meara

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat!”

One of the most iconic lines in the history of movies signaled another broadcast of “Jaws” last week. It is one of the movies that stops me from channel-surfing every time. “Godfather” and “Goodfellas” are two others. It is a phenomenon misunderstood by Blue Eyes, since I have memorized the dialogue in my favorites, which I will repeat ad nauseum at the drop of a remote.

That line and the boozy soliloquy from Captain Quint about the sharks which surrounded the sunken U.S.S. Indianapolis make the movie a classic even though that damned movie shark never worked when it was supposed to. “So, 1,100 men went into the water and 316 came out. The sharks took the rest,” Quint told the crew aboard the Orca.

Gets me every time. Name a better movie speech. Name a movie with better music.

Da-dum.

“Jaws” was considered a movie-making disaster in 1975, since it went four times over its budget. Director Steven Spielberg told Vanity Fair that he expected to get fired every single day. But Captain Quint and the shark made it a smash hit, the first film to top $100 million in revenue.

You have seen so many horror movies since 1975 that you forgot how “Jaws” scared an entire nation. Every time I swam through seaweed on Martinsville Beach after seeing that movie, I was convinced that a man eater was nibbling at me. Ruined swimming for years.

Da-dum. Da-dum.

The movie production encountered so many problems in the Martha’s Vineyard village of Menemsha that the director hired locals as extras. Some even got speaking parts or worked as part of the crew. Thank God Spielberg hired Lynn Murphy.

“Lynne [sic] Murphy arguably saved parts of the film production, more than any other local,” said Matt Taylor, author of “Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard.” Murphy was a local marine mechanic when Hollywood came to town. He was hired to assist with anything from towing the robotic shark to fixing the electronics on the underwater platforms for action scenes.

In 1974, production ended. As in some cases when a film wraps, props and equipment are sold on the spot. Murphy bought the fiberglass Orca replica for a dollar.

There were actually two Orcas used in the production of the film. The first was the operational Orca, which was purchased nearby in Marblehead, Massachusetts. It originally was used as a lobster boat under the name of Warlock. This is the boat used in most of the regular fishing scenes. But when you see a boat that’s sinking or being destroyed, that’s Orca 2, Taylor reported.

Da-dum. Da-dum. Da-dum.

 

Orca 2 was created out of fiberglass that came from the mold made from the original boat. There was no motor attached and several breakaway sterns were built into the replica. Orca 2 was used in the infamous scene where the shark chomps on Quint as Chief Brody throws a scuba tank into the shark’s mouth.

What happened to the original?

The production team shipped Orca 1 back to Universal Studios in Hollywood, California. Taylor says that within a brief time, it was sold to a fisherman in Los Angeles. A year later, after the movie became a huge hit, Universal Studios bought the Orca 1 back from him — paying 10 times what they originally sold it for, Taylor reported.

“Apparently, Spielberg came one night to sit on the Orca and it was gone,” says Taylor. “Some studio execs thought to get rid of it and chopped it up with chain saws,” Taylor reported. What would that famous boat be worth today?

The movie idea was born when author Peter Benchley fished for sharks aboard the 42-foot Cricket II out of Montauk, New York. Although the original Orca vessel which was the star of the movie was accidentally destroyed, the Cricket II met a better fate and is alive and well in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Capt. Joe DiBella uses his boat to offer free fishing trips to disabled veterans. To DiBella, it’s all about giving back to the country’s veterans, who have given so much of themselves. The power of a fishing trip to these warriors became evident to DiBella while he watched a group of his anglers on an early fishing trip.

The Cricket II has survived the “Jaws” experience. The poor old Orca did not. Destroyed once again.

Da-dum. Da-dum. Da-dum.

Emmet Meara lives in Camden in blissful retirement after working as a reporter for the Bangor Daily News in Rockland for 30 years.



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