Q U E N T I N T A R A N T I N O A N D H I S F I L M S (V2.0) (c) 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, Simon Gleave and Jason Forrest HTML
Quentin Tarantino was born on March 27, 1963 in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of a 16 year old nursing student Connie and a 21 year old law student and aspiring actor Tony. Connie named him after Burt Reynold's character, Quint in 'Gunsmoke'. When Quentin was 2, they moved to South Los Angeles which is where Quentin grew up. His mother took him to the cinema from an early age, he saw 'Carnal Knowledge' at the age of 8 and 'Deliverance' at the age of 9. From this early introduction Tarantino fell in love with the cinema and went at every opportunity.
At the age of 22, he landed a job in Video Archives, a video store in Manhattan Beach, California where he and Roger Avary spent all day watching, discussing and recommending videos. He made his first (unfinished) film in 1986, 'My Best Friend's Birthday', written with acting class friend Craig Hamann, and followed this up by writing his first script, 'True Romance' a year later.
During this period, he was attending acting classes and put together a CV of his (non-existent) acting experience which included a role in Jean-Luc Godard's 'King Lear' because nobody in Hollywood would have heard of the film or director and 'Dawn of the Dead' by George Romero because he resembled a biker in one of the scenes. His role in 'King Lear' was actually listed in Leonard Maltin's video guide.
By 1988, Tarantino had written his second script, 'Natural Born Killers' and in 1990 he sold the script for 'True Romance' for $50,000. He decided to use this money to make his third script, 'Reservoir Dogs' on 16mm and in black and white with his friends in the leading roles. It was around this point that Tarantino left the video store to do rewrites for CineTel, a small Hollywood production company - it was at this time he met Lawrence Bender and struck lucky;
Bender was attending acting classes with Peter Flood, who was divorced from acting teacher Lily Parker and knew Harvey Keitel from the Actors Studio. Keitel saw the script and was impressed enough to raise some more finance, act in the film and help Tarantino cast the main roles. At this point, producers Monte Hellman and Richard Gladstein also joined the project.
In 1991, Tarantino filmed some scenes at Sundance with him playing the role of Mr White and Steve Buscemi playing Mr Pink. These scenes were shown to various film people to comment on and the group containing Terry Gilliam were particularly impressed.
'Reservoir Dogs' finally premiered at Sundance '92 before appearing at various film festivals around the World. Miramax picked the film up for distribution after Sundance and it was released in the US later in 1992 and in the UK on January 8 1993.
Tarantino traveled around the various festivals in 1992 promoting his film and writing his next script, 'Pulp Fiction' which went on to win the Palme D'Or at Cannes in 1994. It finally opened amidst incredible hype and critical acclaim on October 14 in the US and October 21 in the UK.
'Pulp Fiction' went on to become one of the most highly acclaimed movies of 1994, grossing over 100 million dollars worldwide and picking up several Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Actress, Best Editing, and winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
Riding on the success of Pulp Fiction, Tarantino has gone on to be a major Hollywood player, Producing, Distributing films through Miramax with an arm of the company called 'Rolling Thunder', Co-Directing and Co-Writing 'Four Rooms', an anthology-type feature film, Directing an episode of 'ER', a popular TV show, and making many appearances in movies and TV.
Tarantino's first two films and his anthology contribution are the subject of this FAQ:
Reservoir Dogs is the third film written and first directed by Quentin Tarantino and was released in the USA in 1992 and in the UK at the beginning of 1993. The film deals with the meeting at a pre-planned rendezvous of a group of robbers who have been involved in an attempted jewelery heist. The robbery has been organized by Joe Cabot with his son Nice Guy Eddie who have put together a team of six men, each with a different role to play and each with a pseudonym chosen by Joe. The robbery has gone wrong although the participants have still managed to get away with a quantity of diamonds. The protagonists believe that one of their number is a police informer and the film deals with the recriminations that arise from this.
When Tarantino worked in a video store, he referred to the French film 'Au Revoir Les Enfants' as 'the reservoir film' because he couldn't pronounce the title. He combined this with 'Straw Dogs', a Sam Peckinpah film from 1971, to produce the title 'Reservoir Dogs'. Although Quentin chooses to remain quiet about this, this story has been confirmed by Quentin's mother and Roger Avary, among others.
In the 1974 American film, 'The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3', the four hijackers of the subway train are all dressed alike (hat, glasses, moustache, big overcoat and machine gun) and had the pseudonyms of Mr Blue, Mr Green, Mr Brown and Mr Grey.
The scene which runs over the credits near the beginning of 'Reservoir Dogs' showing the characters walking in slow motion is a homage to a similar scene in Sam Peckinpah's 1969 film, 'The Wild Bunch'.
Jean Pierre Melville is also a great influence on Tarantino, he was the director of several stylish gangster films in France in the 1950's and 1960's which deal with honour and gangster ethics and are set in a bleak urban environment where everybody is cynical and impeccably dressed. The 'three way stand-off' appears in Melville's film, 'Le Samourai'.
Other influences include 'Rififi' from 1955 directed by Jules Dassin and 'The Killing' directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1956. The films of Hong Kong director John Woo are also a great influence on Tarantino.
However, City on Fire, a Hong Kong action movie directed by Ringo Lam in 1987 is by far the biggest influence on Reservoir Dogs. Tarantino has used a number of ideas in the film and these are worth outlining:
- 1. Just before the robbers in City on Fire rob a jewelery store, one of them says 'Let's go to Work'.
- 2. The relationship between Chow (the undercover cop) and Fu (the gangster) is mirrored by that of Orange and White.
- 3. One of the gang members kills a shop girl in the jewelery shop for setting off the alarm.
- 4. There is a scene where Chow is shot by a cop and kills him (Orange is shot by a woman and kills her) while Fu is shooting cops in a car by shooting at them with two guns.
- 5. In the warehouse there is a Mexican standoff.
- 6. A dying Chow tells Fu that he is a cop.
|Joe Cabot||killed by Mr White in triangular shooting.|
|Nice Guy Eddie||killed by Mr White in triangular shooting.|
|Mr White||shot by Nice Guy Eddie in triangular shooting, killed afterwards by the cops having killed Mr Orange.|
|Mr Blonde||killed by Mr Orange.|
|Mr Orange||shot by woman whose car he and Mr White are trying to commandeer, shot by Joe in triangular shooting and finally killed by Mr White.|
|Mr Brown||shot in the head by the cops, dies after he crashes the getaway car.|
|Mr Blue||Joe says he was killed by the cops at the jewellery store.|
|Mr Pink||there is a debate about the fate of Mr Pink. Having left the warehouse with the diamonds, he is surrounded by the cops. The soundtrack is faint, but what can be made out tells us he has been arrested. There is evidence to support this posted regularly to the newsgroup, and on some of the web sites.|
Joe shoots Mr Orange, Mr White shoots Joe, Nice Guy Eddie shoots Mr White, Nice Guy Eddie shoots Mr White again and Mr White shoots Nice Guy Eddie as he falls from his wounds.
There are a number of things in the film that don't quite add up:
This is thought to stem from Tarantino's love of Hong Kong action movies where honour and respect are an integral part. Mr White had saved his life, told him his real name and killed two friends (Joe and Eddie) to protect him. The only thing that Mr Orange could offer in return was the truth and this is why he told Mr White that he was the undercover cop.
There has been some comment made on the death of Mr Brown. In my opinion, this is one of the best things about the film in that it shows more clearly than any other demise that you don't just die instantly when shot. My interpretation is that Mr Brown has been shot in the head by the cops while escaping from the robbery. Mr. White confirms that the cops shot him to Nice Guy Eddie. He doesn't die instantly, but is able to drive (albeit erratically) away from the scene. Eventually, he crashes and to show that he is on the verge of death, he says that he has gone blind when in fact, he just has blood in his eyes. Mr White and Mr. Orange leave the car and when they return, Mr Brown has died. Mr. Orange did not shoot Mr. Brown.
Mr Blonde wasn't a robber, he was only put on the job because Joe owed him a debt of gratitude for doing time without dragging Joe's organization down with him. Joe also referred to him as a 'goodfella' suggesting that Mr Blonde is more of a trigger man, employed to sort out the opposition. Unfortunately, this means that Mr Blonde will shoot with the slightest provocation and putting him on this job is a fatal misjudgement by Joe, possibly indicating a weakness of Joe's in that his emotions affect his judgement.
I thought the ring was just part of Orange's persona in his undercover work - i.e. he is married in his 'role'. So, how do you go about backing this up? Well, if this is the case he would be wearing a wedding ring every time we see him with the rest of the gang and the first scene that he appears in other than scenes that are chronologically after he puts the ring on, is when he is relating his restroom story to Joe, Eddie and White and he is wearing a wedding ring. This, along with the state of his flat should be ample evidence.
The cops trailing Eddie's car after Orange gets in from his apartment. It is also on the car radio in the next scene in Eddie's car just before the E. Lois conversation.
Eddie talking to Dolph on the car phone and White, Blonde and Pink beating up Marvin the cop to get information.
In the bar where Orange is relating his commode story to Joe, Eddie and White.
Orange's apartment when he gets the phone call that Eddie, White and Pink are downstairs in the car.
I think we all know where this.
When Orange is telling Holdaway in the diner how he's on the inside due to Longbeach Mike.
The film opens in a diner as a couple of thieves discuss the possibility of holding up restaurants. This leads us into three distinct strands; a date between a hit man and the wife of his boss, the boxer who is supposed to throw a fight and the cleaning up of a hit man's mistake. The stories are told in non chronological order and we finally return to the diner for the final scene.
While Jules and Vincent are at Marsellus' club.
Playing when Rosanna Arquette is talking about her body piercing.
Sung by the Ricky Nelson impersonator at Jack Rabbit Slims.
While Vincent is waiting for Mia at her house.
As Vincent is driving to Mia's house after leaving Lance's place.
The Twist Contest at Jack Rabbit Slims.
Mia dancing by herself while Vince is in the bathroom at her house.
Maynard's store when Butch and Marsellus first come in fighting.
Butch and Zed "bonding" in the pawn shop.
Playing when Butch is leaving his apartment having killed Vincent.
In this, the final segment of the anthology 'Four Rooms', Tarantino plays Chester Rush, a new Hollywood hot-shot partying with a few close friends in the penthouse of a posh Hollywood hotel on New Year's Eve. The bellhop of the hotel, played by Tim Roth, gets caught in the middle of a wager held by Rush and his friends.
'The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.'
This is actually not directly from Ezekiel 25:17 and in fact, only the last sentence and part of the second last sentence will be found there.
I've decided not to tackle this subject because whatever I write is not going to change anybody's viewpoint. However, Tarantino has said, "...that's the way my characters talk in the movies I've made so far. I also feel that the word 'nigger' is one of the most volatile words in the English language and any time anyone gives a word that much power, I think everybody should be shouting it from the rooftops to take the power away. I grew up around blacks and have no fear of it, I grew up saying it as an expression." Movieline, Aug 1994
There has been a lot of discussion about the fact that the same character names appear in different Tarantino scripts and whether these people are either related or one in the same. Some of the common names so far are as follows:
The best explanation is that the names reflect Tarantino's ideas so the name Vega is used for a killer, the name Marvin is a fall guy and Scagnetti is an authority figure. Quentin has said that Vic and Vince are supposed to be brothers, which may have been an afterthought as Michael Madsen could have ended up playing both roles.
True Romance was bought and directed by Tony Scott, it was released in the summer of 1993 in the US and October of the same year in the UK. It has recently been granted a video certificate in Britain after some delay. It's worth mentioning some of the more common FAQ's that come up with regards to True Romance:
Kilmer played the 'Mentor' in the film, who spoke to Clarence in the bathroom, and was supposed to represent Clarence's hero Elvis.
Certainly the biggest difference is that in Tarantino's version Clarence was supposed to have died at the end, perhaps paving the way for Alabama to join up with Mr. White later on in life, as many people seem to think.
Also, Tarantino's script jumped around in time, much like Pulp Fiction.
The director's cut has a longer, more violent scene with Alabama and Virgil (James Gandolfini) in the hotel room, and it's Alabama not one of Coccotti's men that shoots Officer Dimes (Chris Penn) at the end of the movie.
Quentin Tarantino's films have proved to be very controversial in Britain due to their violent content. Reservoir Dogs only recently was allowed its video release after years of playing in late night theaters. True Romance had it's video certificate delayed until 1994 and Natural Born Killers didn't get its certificate until Feburary 1995. Pulp Fiction was released on video in April 1995. Because of what is commonly known as the 'Dunblane massacre', Natural Born Killers has had it's video release delayed indefinitely.
After 'Four Rooms', Tarantino decided to take a break from writing and directing to pursue other projects and to relax. As it turned out, this break didn't keep him any further away from the media, appearing on talk shows, attending awards shows, film festivals, etc. He has been rumoured to be directing several future pictures including, but not limited to, the next James Bond picture, an adaptation of Mac Beth and a 'Vega Brothers' movie. What is known for sure is that Tarantino is going to be working in Hollywood, probably in several capacities at once, for many years to come.
Tarantino's scripts can be bought from the following outlets:
HOLLYWOOD SCRIPTS 5514 Satsuma Ave. N. Hollywood, Ca 91601 ph. (818) 980-3545 fax (818) 566-1143
MR. WEEKEND PRODUCTIONS Jimmy L Shirah P.O. Box 1803 Lilburn, GA 30226
ICONOGRAPHICS 1807 Second St #4 Santa Fe NM 87505 1-800-279-9779
HOLLYWOOD SCRIPTS PO Box 325 LONDON SW4 9JZ 0171-978-2706
The script for Pulp Fiction has been published in paperback in the US by Miramax, retailing at $9-99 and in the UK by Faber and Faber costing 8-99 GBP.
The authors would like to thank Roger Avary, Greg Bole, Skander Halim, Al Harrell, Dennis Humbert, Ray Lahey, Robert Martin, Dave Munroe, Dave Robson, Joan Shields, Ajaipal Tanwar, Ola Torstensson, and Kale Whorton for their input into this FAQ.
A special thanks is extended to Jami Bernard whose contributions and help have proved invaluable to this FAQ.
This FAQ was converted to HTML .
All Rights Reserved.
Simon Gleave, E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org Phone +44-71-477-8000 4129 Computing Officer, LS Support Group, Social Statistics Research Unit, The City University, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB, UK
Jason A. Forrest
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