Bartholomew Marion Quint was a grizzled, seasoned shark hunter, who once resided on the Island of Amity, MA in the shanty seaside port of Menemsha. Running a bootleg distillery, and a whale oil business, as well as a weekend charter service, Quint captained the "Orca" and became part of local lore after his last trip out to sea in a bid to capture a giant rogue killer shark. Hired to catch the shark, Quint was joined by APD chief of police, Brody, and visiting ichthyologist, Dr. Hooper serving as crew.
The Amity Incident
While the factual Quint was a local shark fisherman / charter boat captain on the Island of Amity during the summer of 1973, there occurred an incident that to this day resonates in popular culture as the defining true 'summer of the shark'. Many believe Quint to have been crucial in preventing further escalation of what is commonly known as the worst incident of shark attacks on record anywhere in the world.
The JAWS log
Culled from Chief Martin Brody's personal police report, a dramatic and telling account of Amity's struggle with the shark known simply as "The JAWS log", was subsequently written by Amity Gazette reporter Harry Meadows in the fall of 1973. The log describes Quint's involvement in the ordeal and sheds light on how the drama unfolded. This JAWS log was then used as the core structure for the screenplay written by Carl Gottlieb. Gottlieb also portrayed Harry meadows in the film adaptation.
Amity PD Police log -- Chief Martin Brody (filed May/1974 0300 hours)
"On June 29th 1973 at approximately 3;00pm the local fisherman known simply as 'Quint' interrupts a frenzied town meeting. While everyone is bickering, he scrapes his nails against a chalkboard to get our attention. After a moment of bewildered silence Quint relates in no uncertain terms that he can in fact catch and kill the shark for $10,000 rather than the meager $3000 offered by the town. After the shark attacks again, I finally get the Mayor to hire Quint.
After brief introductions and a minor squabble between Quint and Matt (Hooper), we leave Menemsha on what I want to state for the record was a boat that I now realize was too small for the task. Never the less, we had no time to deal with the red tape to get coast guard support.
After days of waiting and chumming we spot the damn thing, and its far larger than we're prepared for. Quint at first tries to catch the shark using mini harpoons attached to some kind of air barrels or kegs to keep the shark from diving too deep. It comes to the point where we attach the harpoon ropes to cleats on the back of the Orca - and the shark drags the boat backwards as the Orca's engine is the only thing resisting it's pull. At first we begin to previal but the sharlk wins the tug of war and its clear we aren't gaining ground. What's more, we're taking on water and it looks like we're going to be sinking. We then attempt cutting the ropes loose, but Quint cuts the ropes with a large machete first.
In what I consider a suicidal move, 'Quint' then decides to put the boat at full-throttle to attract the shark to the shallow shoreline and drown it there - but in the process, the boat's engine is fried. Now stranded, we decide to have Hooper enter a shark cage and go into the water, where he tries to inject the shark with a special toxin. Hooper attempts doing so - but according to Matt's account, he drops the stick that had the toxins on it, and it sinks to the ocean bottom. Hooper is then attacked by the shark, and escapes.
Quint pulls the cage back up, revealing it to have been shredded apart by the shark. Just then - the shark breaches the stern of the Orca, and Quint stumbles then retreats into the boat's cabin. With the door open, and the shark's jaws opening and closing, Quint's tries holding onto the table - and in the process, a pressurized scuba tank rolls over his hand causing him to slip, and I clutch his hand - but he continues slipping, and goes out the door closer and closer towards the shark, thrashing around in a desperate attempt to grab something, before the shark clamps his jaws down on his torso. Quint is violently thrashed from side to side, screaming while try to fight off the shark with his machete. The shark clamps down again causing Quint gush up a mouthful of blood you could splattered before he is dragged underwater.
After the shark's demise, Hooper appears, and we share a brief moment of respect for Quint, before we swim to shore using a makeshift raft rigged from two of the remaining yellow kegs."
Quint was known to have served aboard the USS Indianapolis during World War II, in which he and his shipmates delivered the Hiroshima bomb. However, as is know to history, a Japanese submarine sank the Indianapolis and the 1200 crewmen ended up in the water, ending up as prey for the sharks as they drifted alone at sea. Quint was one of only 300+ men to survive the event. Following Quint's return from the war in the Pacific, Quint decided to make shark fishing his sole purpose and opened a charter fishing business on the summer resort Island of Amity.
Using what little savings he had for construction supplies, Quint was able to build a two level shack and fishery with his bare hands on the property of an old friend by the name of Chuck Gramling who had promised it to him during the war. On Amity, Quint would scrounge for local pilot whales, and other fish commodities including blue gills, and Tommy cod.
Between fishing seasons Quint sold moonshine from a bootleg distillery making his own apricot brandy which was a favorite among the likes of fishing locals including Ben Gardner. Although there were many police raids done in search of the moonshine, Quint was able to avoid legal scrutiny by hiding his stashes of alcohol in kegs stowed on board his boat, ORCA.
Even though the mayor was relentless about disallowing zoning approval, and the local fisherman were constantly filing complaints that Quint was disrupting their trade, he fought each and every complaint using layman's legal knowledge gained from spending months in the local Amity library. Much the the chagrin of librarians unhappy with the constant reek of beer, and the sound of foul language, Quint would sift through legal volumes until he knew he had a good case. Besides legal books, Quint was also fond of pagan mythology. Many believed that it was Quint's maniacal study of sharks and the paranormal that led the shark to choose Amity as its killing ground.
In the wake of Alex Kitner's death during the 1974 summer by the first shark, Quint agreed to kill the shark for a total of $10,000. However, it wasn't until the shark's third fatal attack that Quint was finally hired to hunt down the creature. With Chief Martin Brody and Oceanographic Institute researcher Matt Hooper in tow, Quint sailed the Orca out to kill the shark.
In the events that followed, Quint tried many tricks to catch the shark over the course of two days, first by recalling it in on rod and reel, then by harpooning it with barrels to keep it at the surface, though both attempts failed. Incredibly stubborn, vain and obsessive, he destroyed his own radio when Brody tried to call for help and was willing to blow out the motor of his sinking boat when the. When Hooper descends into the cage and the shark destroys it, he tries to kill it in a last effort as the shark begins to sink the ORCA. However, as he tries to escape, one of Hooper's scuba tanks crushes his fingers, causing him to slide toward the shark. As it kills him, he tries in vain to stab the fish with his machete and is quickly killed, dragged under and eaten by the shark. Brody soon avenges him when he shoves hooper's air tank into the shark's most and shoots it with Quint's rifle, killing it.
A year later, the wreckage of the ORCA becomes a popular diving attraction and it is there where the second shark first attacks two divers, heralding the return of terror to Amity Island.
- The real-life inspiration for Quint was likely the late Frank Mundus. Frank Mundus, born in 1925 and a native of Montauk, New Jersey, is seen by many as the man who first started kindling interest in sport-fishing for sharks and shares many traits in common with the fictional Quint, including the famous line "You all know me. You all know what I do". Though Peter Benchley denied using Mundus as an inspiration for the character, Quint's actor, Robert Shaw stated with certainty that Mundus was an inspiration for Quint. Furthermore, the locals of Montauk who knew Frank Mundus agreed Quint was inspired by Mundus' adventures and exploits. Frank Mundus also held the record for some of the biggest great white sharks ever caught off the East Coast. However, unlike Quint, Frank Mundus became a staunch advocate of shark conservation and management in his later years upon seeing the dwindling numbers of sharks in US waters over the decades. Frank Mundus passed away of a heart attack at the age of 83 on September 10th, 2008.
- In the Novel, Quint dies when he becomes tangled in the ropes of the harpoons he has thrown at the shark and it drags him under, drowning him. When the shark dies of its wounds just as it's about to eat Martin Brody, Quint's body, trailing behind, sinks with the shark.