Once again, I want to credit Brian Raftery for these awesome factoids! Next week, I'll give you the link to the article so you can read it in full and with all the pictures!
- Three mechanical sharks — each weighing a ton and a half, and costing about $150,000 apiece — were used for filming. At times, the sharks simply sank; at other points, their hydraulics exploded. They also became discolored after too much water. Filmmaker (and Spielberg friend) Brian De Palma happened to be visiting the set on the day Spielberg looked at the first footage of the shark in action. "It was like a wake,” De Palma later told a reporter. “Bruce’s eyes crossed, and his jaws wouldn’t close right.”
- The naughty limerick Quint coos before the Orca takes off to hunt the shark — “Here lies the body of Mary Lee/died at the age of 103/For 15 years, she kept her virginity/not a bad record for this vicinity” — was lifted from a tombstone Shaw had once seen in Ireland.
- To pass time on the set, Spielberg and Dreyfuss sang songs by comedian-musician Stan Freberg; the director also set up a DIY projection room on one of the boats. “Universal had only two films they could send us from their Boston office,” Spielberg told a reporter. “We watched Ma and Pa Kettle on the Farm a lot."
- For the Orca, Alves secured an old boat named The Warlock. But Spielberg felt the ship lacked character, and replaced the entire wheelhouse. Most crucially, though, he added big windows on all sides, so that viewers would see the ocean everywhere they looked — a move that highlighted just how isolated the three men were at sea.
- The famous U.S.S. Indianapolis speech was filmed twice: For the first effort, shot at night, Shaw insisted on verisimilitude: ‘Robert came over to me and said, ‘You know, Steven, all three of these characters have been drinking and I think I could do a much better job in this speech if you let me actually have a few drinks before I do the speech,’” the director told Ain’t it Cool News in 2011. “And I unwisely gave him permission.” Shaw went into a bathroom for a while, and returned so loaded that crew members had to carry him to his seat; he eventually ran out of energy, and filming was suspended. The next morning, an apologetic Shaw — who had to be reminded what had happened the night before — nailed the scene in about four takes.