Jaws – Robert Shaw as Quint
Robert Shaw was born 90 years ago today, August 9, 1927. To celebrate the birth of this iconic actor and writer, BAMF Style presents another contributor post submitted by BAMF Style reader “W.T. Hatch”. Enjoy!
Robert Shaw as Quint, grizzled and tough shark hunter and U.S. Navy veteran
Amity Island, July 1974
Release Date: June 20, 1975
Director: Steven Spielberg
Costume Design: Louise Clark, Robert Ellsworth, and Irwin Rose
Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’. I’ll catch this bird for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy.
In 1975, director Steven Spielberg scared the bejesus out of America with the summer blockbuster hit Jaws. Based upon author Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name, Jaws is the harrowing tale of a 25′ man-eating shark which terrorizes the small beach community of Amity Island. Technical problems forced Spielberg to largely abandon the mechanical shark, dubbed “Bruce” after his attorney, instead using mood, music, and a set of yellow barrels to suggest the beast’s on-screen presence. One viewing of the film is enough to make even the bravest soul think twice before taking a swim in the ocean.
But one other persona in the movie is more frightening than the shark. I speak of the shark’s archenemy known only by the name of Quint. No doubt inspired by another single-minded sea captain, namely Ahab of Moby Dick, Quint is one of cinema’s most enigmatic, famous, and all-around badass characters.
What’d He Wear?
A hardened veteran of WWII, Quint eventually left the United States Navy returning to Amity Island to pursue a career in charter fishing and shark hunting but his attire still reflects that of a career sailor. Indeed, with the exception of wearing a black work coat when ashore and a wool sweater in his shop, Quint wears the same clothes throughout the entirety of the picture. He is a complex man – independent, intelligent, and irreverent – who clearly cares little for the trappings of modern fashion. Quint’s daily “uniform” is utilitarian in nature and befitting of a working man who spent his life at sea.
Once aboard the Orca, Quint the irascible fisherman rapidly transforms into Quint the U.S. Navy sailor still very much at war with his old enemy the shark. He dons a M1951 field jacket retained from his time in the U.S. Navy as shown by the faded nametag bearing QUINT in stenciled military block letters above the right breast pocket. The coat is made of 9-ounce cotton material in olive green (OG) shade 107.
First developed at the height of World War II in 1943, the field jacket is a ubiquitous item issued to generations of U.S. military servicemembers (this author still has his from basic training). While the M1951 is not truly waterproof, the jacket may be worn under a separate wet weather coat or with a removable inner liner for additional warmth. This layering system allows the wearer to easily adapt to changing weather conditions and is perfect for off shore fishing. Quint wears his jacket open with the sleeves rakishly unbuttoned. The coat has four large pockets with snap enclosures and a drawstring waist.
Unlike so many other movies featuring staunch blue-collar characters, Quint’s jacket shows clear evidence of extended use. The left breast pocket flap is missing and the coat’s shell, much like Quint’s body, shows the ravages of hard living with several stitched repairs, small holes, and lost buttons.
Under the field jacket, Quint wears a standard issue U.S. Navy enlisted man’s chambray long-sleeve shirt. The pocket flaps and longer collar tabs point to this being a 1970s era version rather than a remnant from his wartime service of the 1940s. The shirt, a composite blend of 65% polyester and 35% cotton, has two large chest pockets and black plastic buttons. Always a man looking to shock his friends, he uses the left chest pocket to store the dental appliance worn in place of a tooth lost in a fight long ago. Quint runs the gamut in the wear of his shirt, from almost completely unbuttoned (and his pants undone) when he and Hooper toast to their shared scars to fully buttoned to the neck in his final moments aboard the doomed Orca.
Briefly visible while attempting to land the beast with rod and reel, Quint dons a white thermal underwear top, i.e. “long johns,” underneath his chambray shirt. One may assume he adjusts the buttons and adds the long johns to match the Atlantic’s changing weather patterns throughout the hunt for the titular shark.
Quint’s signature clothing piece is his broken-brimmed and much soiled baseball cap. The hat itself is the subject of no small amount of online debate as to its origins and material. Several sources, citing the military-themed style and khaki color, suggest the hat is a WWII Navy flyer or mechanic cap although there is no agreed-upon answer. This author believes Quint’s hat is either a custom-made piece or locally purchased in a sporting goods store. The cap has a broad brim to keep the sun from the wearer’s eyes and two small pockets on the front below the peak. Quint’s hat appears to be made of waterproof waxed canvas and is fitted without adjustment tabs.
In his final scenes, Quint exchanges his cap for a dark blue bandanna rolled “DeNiro style” to keep the sweat from his eyes while attempting to breathe life into the Orca’s failing engines. Again, this choice reflects Quint’s pragmatic nature as a brimmed baseball hat would be a detriment whilst working in the confines of the boat’s cramped engine room. Much like his chambray shirt and field jacket, Quint’s bandanna is a hangover from his days fighting in the sweltering Pacific theater on the ill-fated heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis.
Quint’s pants also emphasize function over fashion. Their faded black color (he also wears a brown pair) hide the inevitable oil, diesel fuel, or blood stains inherent to commercial fishing. The pants are likely made of cotton cloth with a straight leg cut, flat front, and four large pockets. Quint is not a blue jeans man as cotton dries faster than denim and wears more comfortably through a long workday. Quint wears a plain, if broad, black leather belt with brass hardware.
For his footwear, the no-nonsense Quint wisely chose a pair of tan cotton canvas tennis shoes with taupe laces and rubber soles perfect for negotiating wet, slippery decks. These shoes, worn with and without his brown socks, have the additional benefit of being easily removed if need arises to abandon ship. Quint, a survivor of one tragic wartime boat sinking, certainly remembered that life changing experience in his shoe selection.
Quint wears no visible jewelry nor a watch which comes as no surprise given his chosen profession. Bracelets, necklaces, and watches pose safety hazards as they may catch on machinery, ropes or other fixtures on the boat. Given his unsentimental nature – after all the man celebrated his third wife’s demise by entering an arm wrestling contest in San Francisco – Quint also eschews a wedding ring.
What to Imbibe
Quint is a man who likes his drink. He quaffs Narragansett beer while fishing and humorously negotiates two cases of apricot brandy (and a color TV) in his shark hunting fee.
Quint is something of a bootlegger himself, offering Chief Brody his own homebrew. The Orca‘s galley stocks include a bottle of Canadian Club and a large bottle of vodka. During Quint’s iconic Indianapolis speech – arguably the finest moment ever captured on film – he drinks an unidentified alcohol from a white china coffee mug. A man of Quint’s demeanor strikes me as an inveterate whiskey drinker. Given his Irish heritage, I am betting Quint is a Jameson man. It is a safe bet that an evening spent drinking with Quint would be memorable… if you survived it.
How to Get the Look
Apart from his hat, every item in Quint’s rather spartan closet is easily found online or in vintage clothing stores. While not appropriate for formal events, the look is ideal for a day of sharkin’ or far less arduous tasks about the house.
- Olive drab (OD) M1951 field jacket with button/zip front, four bellows pockets, epaulettes, button cuffs, and drawstring waistband
- Blue chambray long-sleeve U.S. Navy surplus shirt with long point collar, front placket, two chest pockets with button-down flaps, and 2-button rounded cuffs
- Black cotton flat front work trousers with belt loops, side pockets, jetted back pockets with snap closure, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Wide black leather belt with squared brass single-prong buckle
- Tan canvas five-eyelet deck sneakers with off-white rubber outsoles
- Brown socks
- White thermal long-sleeve underwear top
- Fitted brown waxed cotton cap with two front pockets
- Readers may learn more about the saga behind a reproduction of Quint’s iconic hat here
- Dark blue bandanna
… and the best mutton chops this side of Logan.
Quint employs several weapons including a fishing rod, harpoon gun, and even a machete in his ultimately forlorn attempt to kill the shark. Quint’s personal arsenal also includes the venerable, reliable and hard hitting .30-caliber M1 Garand rifle of WWII fame.
Like much of Quint’s clothing, the M1 is likely a relic from his US Navy days… indeed, one expects Quint “liberated” the rifle from the ship’s armory as a souvenir of the war.
Spoiler alert: after Quint’s rather graphic death (shudder), Chief Brody seizes the M1 rifle and ultimately uses it to kill the shark with a well placed bullet to one of Hooper’s SCUBA tanks. On a related note, interested readers may wish to peruse Mythbusters‘ special Jaws episode which puts this particular tactic to the test.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Better yet, read the gripping true story of the USS Indianapolis in In Harm’s Way by Doug Stanton.
Anyway, we delivered the bomb.
For more great takes on the costuming in Jaws, check out Chris Scott’s Primer article from summer 2015. – Nick
The vertical seams on the cap, as well as the shape of the bill, make it look like the WW-2 era B-1 cap, although I’m sure you’ve come across that theory already. It would fit with Quint’s general milsurp style.
Great article, Hatch!
Ha! Put in a request for Quint & crew’s clothes on BAMF Style just the other day.
How did you do that RM? I’ve been waiting years.
Quint’s ‘tennis sneakers’ aren’t tennis sneakers. They’re Sperry Top-siders, purposely designed for sailing. I think Hooper and Brody also wear them in the film. There is a modern version called the Sperry Striper.
Actually, the modern version is the Cloud CVO
Quint’s shirt doesn’t appear to be standard issue. Notice the two button cuffs.
Quint’s shirt doesn’t appear to be standard issue US Navy shirt. The two button cuffs and scalloped pocket flaps make it more likely a Levi’s shirt.
The cap is an off-the-shelf, non-military item. I owned several of the exact same cap in the mid 1970s. I believe, but am not 100% positive (it was a long time ago!), that they were made by Otto International. Those caps with the little pocket in the front were very common back then. Watch old reruns of Andy Griffith and several characters wear them.
Anybody want to mention that the M1951 field jacket was Army-issue, not Navy? And it wasn’t issued until the mid-50s. So for Quint to have this jacket with his name on it, he either re-enlisted for over 10 years in the Army after being fished out of the Philippine Sea (unlikely) or he could have bought it at surplus (very likely) and went to the effort of having his name stitched onto it. Its a mystery!!