December is Tarantino Month here at SOS, and in the weeks leading up to the Christmas release of Django Unchained, we’ll be tackling the man’s entire career. Love him or hate him, the American film director, screenwriter, producer, and actor has created some of the most iconic and memorable movie moments since he burst into the scene in 1992 with the Sundance hit Reservoir Dogs. Site contributor Tressa Eckermann and Editor-in-Chief Ricky D have decided to put together a list of his greatest moments as both a screenwriter and director.
****[callout]1: True Romance: Drexel Spivey meets Clarence Worley [/callout]
True Romance is cluttered with a who’s who of Hollywood celebs: Supporting actor Brad Pitt plays a comically disconnected stoner – a barely glimpsed Val Kilmer appears as an imaginary Elvis mentor, a conscience, schizophrenic hallucination to Christian Slater’s Clarence – and Samuel L. Jackson turns up for a remarkable cameo as a drug dealer whose foul mouth gets in the way of his judgment. But of all the supporting players it is Gary Oldman who steals every scene as Drexel Spivey, a slimy, vicious white pimp who thinks he’s black.
– Ricky D
I remember the first time I saw True Romance and being so startled by this scene. Up
until this point True Romance was a killer sexy road trip movie and with the exception of the brutal murder of Gary Oldman’s vicious pimp Drexel, the violence is relatively contained. Where the torture scene in Reservoir Dogs is all about unrestrained brutality this is so restrained it’s almost unbearable. You know something really bad is coming but watching these two masters go up against each other, expertly spouting off Tarantino whiplash dialogue, is stunning.
The movie’s best scene, bar none; the un-PC scene in which Clarence’s dad (Dennis Hopper) faces off against Vincent Coccotti (Christopher Walken), the right hand man of Blue Lou Boyle. Walken has never been more menacing and never have racial slurs been used so well. This critic would argue that this is Tarantino’s second best monologue (the first heard in the opening of Inglourious Basterds), and Scott’s most skilled direction.
– Ricky D
As a romance, True Romance is sick and twisted; as an action flick it’s stylish and exciting and as a road movie it’s constantly in motion. And yet through the colourful dialogue, dry and cynical humour and Mexican stand-offs, True Romance features some genuinely touching moments – most notably James Gandolfini’s bloody, protracted motel-room assault on Patricia Arquette’s Alabama (a scene originally trimmed for theatrical release, and later restored for video). Sadly, I cannot find a clip online so I’ve embedded the trailer below.
Twenty years later, perhaps the most famous image in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs is the slow-mo Wild Bunch credit sequence. The song, the walk, the skinny ties and black and white suits and the ensemble of great actors makes this truly classic.
Tarantino once called this scene, particularly the fading music as Blonde leaves and then re-enters the warehouse, as one of his proudest moments as a filmmaker. It might be one of the most recognizable scenes in film history today but it still manages to be an undeniably effective scene. As a viewer you have to take a step back and look at the genius that Tarantino had to not show us the most horrifying moment of the entire scene. In the years since, most movies have taken the opinion that the more gore the better, but Tarantino (and Michael Madsen, for that matter) prove that less is always more.
In a movie like Pulp Fiction it’s near impossible to pick just one great scene. I could pick whole segments that make the movie. “The Bonnie Situation”, is still my favorite part of the entire film. But the opener is one of the best. Tarantino’s good at a lot of things but no one introduces a character like him. In that one simple opener he mange’s to make Pumpkin and Honey Bunny so- normal. There funny and witty, like one of those couples in high school that was just to cool. In that one scene Tarantino manages to set the tone for the entire film, brutal, shocking, and funny.
By the time Vincent Vega and Julies Winnfield walk into the run down apartment at the beginning of Pulp Fiction your pretty sure these aren’t the nicest guys in the world. Julies might be a “righteous man” but by the time Samuel L. Jackson delivers his fiery, now legendary speech your initial impression of these two men is proven correct. Your pretty sure Vic and Julies are cool and cold and this scene shows you exactly why.
The opening conversation between Amanda Plummer’s slightly dazed Honey Bunny and Tim Roth’s casually racist Pumpkin remains one of the greatest opening scenes to any American film. But later on, Tarantino takes us to Jack Rabbit Slim’s, a faux-1950s- themed diner that serves $5 milkshakes, Douglas Sirk steaks and has the waitresses dress as Marilyn Monroe and the waiter, Buddy Holly. Veteran Los Angeles hit man Vincent Vega (John Travolta) takes Mia (Uma Thurman), the wife of his criminal boss out for dinner. This date spotlights the picture’s biggest set piece, and one of the film’s most unforgettable scenes. Before long, Mia announces that she wants to compete in the Jack Rabbit Slim’s dance contest. As the two begin cutting loose to Chuck Berry’s ”You Never Can Tell,” the dance becomes an extension of their dialogue.
– Ricky D
Vincent and Mia’s date ends in disaster when Mia O.D.’s on drugs and Vince fearing for her life rushes her to the home of his hippie drug dealer Lance (Eric Stoltz ). The pair surround the now unconscious Mr.s Wallace, give her an adrenaline injection with the help of a black magic marker, and bring her back to life.
– Ricky D
In Christopher Walken’s sole scene in Pulp Fiction, he plays a military officer who delivers a lengthy monologue explaining how he happened to come by a prized gold watch. The speech builds carefully to the movies most outrageous punch line.
Captain Koons: “The way your dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright. He’d be damned if any slopes gonna put their greasy yellow hands on his boy’s birthright, so he hid it, in the one place he knew he could hide something: his ass. Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. Then when he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. I hid this uncomfortable piece of metal up my ass for two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, little man, I give the watch to you”.
– Ricky D