Friday, 10 May 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1975: Roy Scheider in Jaws

Roy Scheider did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Chief Martin Brody in Jaws.

The performance usually given the most credit in Jaws is that of Robert Shaw as Quint the shark hunter, as it should be, but Roy Scheider should not be forgotten in his important lead role as the Chief of police who deals with the shark attacks. Scheider as an actor has a certain ease in being just a normal guy with his performances. Scheider knows how exactly to play roles without flamboyance yet still make the role still interesting in his own way. That is certainly the case here as Chief Brody who more than anything would like things just to be calm and normal on the island of Amity.

Scheider acts as the embodiment of our feelings toward the events of the film. He plays him very well by just handling the part in a purely down to earth fashion. There is not style or flamboyance to Brody he is just a guy who is terrified of the idea of the shark as anyone would be. Sheider rightfully leaves these types of performances to Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw whose characters fit that type of portrayal. He does very well to make it so we can easily empathize with Brody throughout the film and he carries us through both the terror and adventure found in the film.

This is a very reactive performance as Brody has to deal with not only the shark attacks but as well as the public reactions whether it be hysteria or denial. Scheider finds the right pitch in the way he handles each and every moment in which Brody deals with the problems presented with them. He in fact through his very grounded reactions amplifies the effectiveness of every scene. For example when the Shark kills the boy on the beach, the thing I remember most from that scene actually is Scheider absolutely perfect in that single shot of his reaction bringing the full weight of the moment through that terror in his eyes.

Scheider also does manage to create Brody into a likable character particularly through the adventure scenes late in the film. His chemistry with both Shaw and Dreyfuss is great bringing so much more to the film. Scheider makes Brody almost the straight man of the three and makes the dynamic between all three of them work. And again it must be stressed how Scheider way of just being there contributes so much like during Shaw's magnificent delivery of the Indianapolis Speech Scheider succeeds by taking the right place within it. The scene of course belongs to Shaw that is unquestionable, but Scheider does contribute through the dread he brings to Brody's face.

As Brody Scheider mixes in both the right strength and hesitations in Brody throughout and he quite excellent in really internalizes the guilt and fears of Brody. He is really great because he makes Brody a man who does have the strength to keep it together, but at the same time still definitely feels the pains from the situation particularly when he is accused of allowing more of the Shark deaths to occur. He adds the layer with subtly and it really is quite powerful because he keeps it contained without seeming a repressed man either, rather the way an honest man would deal with it.

Jaws is a one of the greatest thrillers ever made and Scheider is the perfect hero for the film. His reactionary performance is just brings so much to the film, and Scheider deserves a great deal of credit for the strength of the film as well. The best example being when we first see the shark where Spielberg is (rightfully) credited in making the scene so effective being doing the joke than cutting it off with scare. Scheider though also enjoyably delivers that joke, than is amazing as he instantly switches to just about frozen in terror, then tops it all off with his absolutely brilliant ad lib "We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat".

This might not be your traditional "great" performance in that he does not really have a really any individual scenes just to express his character, he has to move right along with the whole story and has to express his character quickly as the film moves along. Scheider does it incredibly well though never letting us forget Brody's own personal stake while we are taken in by all that surrounds him as well. Scheider's work he adds that extra emphasis to every scene Scheider brings to us even more fear in the early attacks, and perhaps even more importantly makes feel the joy right along with him when Brody finally gets the shark.

17 comments:

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Well, so much for that prediction.

Michael Patison said...

Dang it, I had thought Hackman would get a 4.5 and Scheider would get a 5, and yet I still ranked Hackman above Scheider.

moviefilm said...

I don't know, if it counts already, but here are my predictions:
1) Roy Schneider
2) Gene Hackman
3) Michael Caine
4) Sean Sonnery
5) Tim Curry

RatedRStar said...

im very happy he got a 5 because he deserves a 5 for something, I know my predictions have failed but ah well, I have a really big soft spot for Roy Scheider, what is your opinion on Scheider in general Louis?.

mrripley said...

This role amde me love scheider forever,he simply is brody and brody isn't remebered enough when people talk of film heroes.

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar: I quite like Scheider as an actor, and his performance in All That Jazz is one of the Oscar nominated performances I feel I probably should revisit.

RatedRStar said...

how come? =) did you not like All That Jazz before or summat lol.

Louis Morgan said...

Well really I just think that it is perhaps a performance I was a little too dismissive of, and perhaps a re watch could improve Scheider's score. There are few other performances I feel that way about too.

RatedRStar said...

ohhh Im curious as to who they are, so Roy Scheider, im guessing William Hurt in Broadcast News, who else?

Louis Morgan said...

I should say I think my opinion could improve on their performances. My opinion has already improved considerably on Hurt, I just need to update his review. Other besides Scheider might include Tom Conti, Alan Arkin in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, and maybe Topol.

mrripley said...

I always liked his way of showing through body language how uneasy Brody is before he knows the attacks happened plus his gr8 chemistry with Lorraine Gary,what did you think of her performance.

RatedRStar said...

changing subject slightly who is everyone rooting for Best Actor at the Baftas that are on tonight.


Toby Jones - The Girl (playing Alfred Hitchcock)
Ben Whishaw - Richard II (playing Richard II)
Sean Bean - Accused (playing Transvestic Tracie)
Derek Jacobi - Last Tango In Halifax( playing widower Alan)

Louis Morgan said...

mrripley: Although I won't say she stood that much for me, what she did do she did well particularly because of that natural chemistry she had with Scheider that you mentioned.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm a little late in asking this, but what is your opinion on Jennifer Lawrences performance in The Hunger Games?

Louis Morgan said...

I thought it was a good variation of sorts on her performance from Winter's Bone.

Tanvir Bashar said...

Which directors wud u say r speilbergs contemporaries

Louis Morgan said...

George Lucas is closest, in terms of their films and their popularity, although Coppola and Scorsese share similair career paths.