If history is written by the victor, then we do not know whom to trust in the various official and unofficial written statements about the deaths of Chrissie Watkins and Alex Kintner.
Repeated viewings of “Jaws”—not that that is bad—reveal a tendency of the characters to get the date wrong. The movie opens with the death of Chrissie Watkins, and in Chief Brody’s official report the next day, in which the “Corner” tells him that Watkins died of a shark attack, we read that she was last seen (somewhere in “Vineyard Woods”) at 11:50 p.m. on July 1, 1974, and probably died at that time.
On July 2—soon after Brody sees Chrissie’s remains—the Chief does the right thing and orders Polly to print up some No Swimming signs, but Mayor Vaughn shuts him down, ordering the beaches open for business.
Later that day, with an agitated Brody watching the beach, both Alex Kintner and the good dog, Pippet, are eaten. Amateur shark hunters from as far away as New York and New Jersey converge on Amity Island, without the benefit of the summer deputies, who are only scheduled to arrive on July 4.
This means that not only did Kintner actually die on July 2, but also that fishermen managed to drive and ferry up to Amity at an amazing speed, and that word traveled lightning fast in that pre-Internet time.
But June 29 fell on a Saturday in 1974. The slap-happy Mrs. Kintner was probably delirious with grief and didn’t wind her watch. Or there was simply a big old continuity error. “Jaws” started filming on Martha’s Vineyard in May of 1974 but it wasn’t released until 1975. June 29 fell on a Sunday in 1975.
Still, the yahoos kill a tiger shark—extremely rare for these waters—and in the heady relief of the demise of the predator, up comes Mrs. Kintner, in full mourning regalia.
“I just found out that a girl was killed here last week,” (emphasis added) she tells Chief Brody, “and you knew about it.” Slap! Wince! “My boy is dead,” she adds unnecessarily. “I wanted you to know that.”
So, according to the poster and the police report, Alex died two days before Chrissie did.
While I had to go frame by frame, pushing up my glasses as I did so, it was easy to see both the “July 1” and the “June 29” on the written materials.
It leads one to wonder. Yes, we saw the remains of Kintner’s yellow raft, but where was the body? Chrissie Watkins’ partially-denuded remains showed up on the beach—so what about Alex’s? And why did Mrs. Kintner make such a point of telling Brody her son was dead? He was there. This seems like a colossal cover-up.
And the whole “Something Happened on June 29” narrative has its roots way back in 1945, when “Bad Hat” Harry Truman dropped the Hiroshima bomb.
Or did he?
Quint is a different matter, as he goes way beyond Amity’s momentary hysteria over a shark attack and rewrites world history. Brody determined that Quint was “certifiable,” what with his destruction of the Orca’s CB radio and his ravings about kiddie scissor classes, the battle of Waterloo, and electric toothbrushes. But it was in Quint’s Indianapolis Speech that he says the Hiroshima Bomb was delivered on June 29, 1945, meaning that Brody chartered the Orca 29 years and six days later.
The problem is that Fat Man and Little Boy, the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were not delivered until late July or early August, 1945. In the Quint-essential rock opera “All That Jaws,” therefore, we posit that Quint just likes to associate himself with maritime disasters.
It is not lost on us that two years after Alex Kintner, Chrissie Watkins, Quint, the Guy on the Rowboat, Ben Gardner, and Pippet died, the Edmund Fitzgerald sank with 29 men on board.
See also: “Herbie, Mate, please make me laugh.”