Quentin Tarantino was born in 1963 in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of a half cherokee, half hillbilly mother named Connie Tarantino. She named him after Burt Reynolds' 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' 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' is 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 - this is where he met Lawrence Bender and struck lucky; Bender was attending acting classes given by a friend of Harvey Keitel's wife. 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 travelled 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. Tarantino's first two films are the subject of this FAQ: RESERVOIR DOGS -------------- Reservoir Dogs is the first film written and 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 jewellery heist. The robbery has been organised 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. 1. What is the meaning of the title 'Reservoir Dogs'? There are a number of possible explanations for this: a) 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. This film was one of his favourite films along with 'Straw Dogs', a Sam Peckinpah film from 1971. He simply combined the two to produce the title 'Reservoir Dogs'. b) Quentin Tarantino gave an interview in the British magazine 'Empire' in which he said 'It's just a perfect title for those guys, they are reservoir dogs, whatever the hell that means'. c) It's a bad pun on 'damned son's of bitches'. 2. Which films influenced Quentin Tarantino in the making of this film? The biggest influence appears to be a 1987 Hong Kong film directed by Ringo Lam, 'City on Fire'. It stars Chow Yun Fat and Lee Sau Yin, both stars of John Woo's 'The Killer'. 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 inflences 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. 3. What fates befall the members of the robbery team? 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 which has yet to be resolved. Having left the warehouse with the diamonds, he is surrounded by the cops, but the soundtrack is ambiguous and some people believe he was killed outside whereas others (myself included) think he is arrested. 4. What is the order of gunfire in the triangular shootout? 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. 5. Plot Problems There are a number of things in the film that don't quite add up: a) Why would the cops be waiting at the jewellery wholesalers as they knew that everybody would meet up at the warehouse after the heist? A possible reason for this is that the cops were carrying out surveillance at the jewellery store just in case anything happened and when Blonde started shooting people, they had to move in. Mr Blonde does say that he shot one of the cashiers for setting off the alarm, so the cops were presumably not in the store at that stage. b) Eddie is very open about the events of the heist when talking to Dolph over a cellular phone. Cellular phones are relatively easy to monitor and it is surprising how much Eddie says in this scene. Cellular phones are easy to scramble and as Eddie carries it everywhere and is likely to be talking about sensitive things on it, he is likely to have scrambled the signal. c) If Joe is supposed to be the head of an 'empire of crime' where he gets people to do the work for him, why is he involved in jewellery robberies which are dangerous without huge rewards, instead of drugs which are less dangerous with much bigger rewards. The best explanation for this is that Joe is from the 'old school' of organised crime and does things like bank robberies because the bamks are insured and nobody gets hurt. He clearly had moral beliefs as shown in the restaurant tipping scene at the beginning of the film. 6. Why did Mr Orange tell Mr White that he was a cop? 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. 7. How did Mr Brown die? 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. 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. 8. Why did Mr Blonde start shooting at the jewellery store? 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 organisation 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. 9. Why does Orange put a wedding ring on before leaving his apartment? I thought the ring was just part of Orange's persona in his undercover work - ie 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 is enough for me. 10.Does Pink make up his story of escaping? Why Mr.Pink's story was true: i) He arrived at the warehouse in a car. When Eddie showed up at the warehouse, he was annoyed that there were so many cars outside. One of them was the car that Pink showed up in because someone would have questioned how Pink got there otherwise. Therefore he must have stolen or carjacked the vehicle. ii) He did have an empty gun when he arrived at the warehouse. If he didn't use the gun to shoot at cops (and presumably hit them) what did he do? Shoot it at the ground just so he could impress White with his story? If you're trying to escape from somewhere do you want to be shooting off a gun? Wouldn't that attract unwanted attention? iii) Why should Pink want to make up a story? Pink doesn't care what anyone thinks, that's part of the reason he's so argumentative. He argues with everyone throughout the film and the tipping scene proves he doesn't care what anybody else thinks. If he's made the story up, why doesn't he tell anybody else? Is he just trying to impress White? No, quite simply, White is the only person who asks him how he got away. 11.Trivia There are a number of bits of trivia which are worth mentioning: a) Roger Avary, who co-wrote the radio play, used to be Tarantino's co-worker in a video store. b) The seventies figure heavily in 'Reservoir Dogs' with the soundtrack being composed of seventies music, and references to television (Christy Love and Baretta), comic books (Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer) and filmstars (Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin). c) Tarantino was going to film 'Reservoir Dogs' in black & white with him and his friends playing the lead roles. However, his friend Lawrence Bender's acting teacher knew Harvey Keitel's wife and she mailed the script to the Keitels. Keitel was so impressed that he immediately signed on and helped with raising the money to film it. Keitel's participation also made it possible to attract other character actors to the piece. d) In the warehouse where the film takes place, there are coffins sitting on end all around them and Mr Blonde is sitting on a hearse when Nice Guy Eddie arrives. e) Eddie Bunker (who played Mr Blue) was a convicted bank robber. f) Tim Roth (Mr Orange) insisted that his voice coach played the woman in the car that he shoots, as he wanted to pay her back for all the hell that she'd put him through. g) There is an orange balloon behind Nice Guy Eddie's car when he's on his way to the rendezvous. Is this symbolic of the fact that Mr Orange is the rat? Soundtrack and location in the film: Little Green Bag - The George Baker Selection Intro walking in slow motion from the diner. Hooked on a Feeling - Blue Swede 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. I Gotcha - Joe Tex Eddie talking to Dolph on the car phone and White, Blonde and Pink beating up Marvin the cop to get information. Magic Carpet Ride - Bedlam In the bar where Orange is relating his commode story to Joe, Eddie and White. Fool for Love - Sandy Rogers Orange's apartment when he gets the phone call that Eddie, White and Pink are downstairs in the car. Stuck in the Middle with You - Stealers Wheel I think we all know where this. Harvest Moon - Bedlam When Orange is telling Holdaway in the diner how he's on the inside due to Longbeach Mike. Coconut - Harry Nilsson End credits. PULP FICTION ------------ 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. 1. What is contained in the briefcase? There is no real answer to this and Tarantino has actually said that he didn't know what to put in the case so he decided to leave it to the viewers to decide. However, it has been suggested that it contains 'the evil that men do' and as the combination of the briefcase is 666, I'm prepared to go with this. Another great suggestion is that it contains the diamonds from 'Reservoir Dogs'. 2. What films have influenced Tarantino in the making of 'Pulp Fiction'? The dance competition is clearly influenced by Jean Luc Godard's 1964 film 'Bande A Parte' which Tarantino has named his production company after. The unknown contents of the briefcase are a homage to Robert Aldrich's film 'Kiss Me Deadly', made in 1955. When Butch stops at the lights and sees Marsellus crossing the road, we are reminded of Alfred Hitchcock's film 'Psycho' when Janet Leigh stops at a set of lights to see her boss crossing the road. The pawn shop rape is clearly reminiscent of 'Deliverance', made in 1972 by John Boorman. 'The Bonnie Situation' contains Jules and his friend Jimmy, clearly a reference to Francois Truffaut's film, 'Jules et Jim'. The character of Wolf in this story is taken from Jean Reno's portrayal of a 'cleaner' in Luc Besson's 'La Femme Nikita', a role reprised by Keitel himself in the American remake 'Point of No Return'. In addition, the films of John Woo, Sam Peckinpah, Brian De Palma and Don Siegel are all important. 3. Why did Mia overdose at her house? She thought that she was snorting cocaine whereas she was taking Vince's extremely pure heroin. His heroin had been packaged as cocaine would normally be because his dealer had run out of the standard heroin packaging. 4. Why did Butch return to the pawn shop to save Marsellus? Redemption is one of the central themes of this film and this scene along with Jules' saving of Honey Bunny and Pumpkin in the diner are the best examples of this. Butch's conscience made him go back to save Marsellus and this acted as his redemption for killing Wilson in the previous night's boxing match. 5. Why did Vince leave his gun on the counter at Butch's apartment when he went to the bathroom? Quite simply, he didn't, the gun belonged to Marsellus. Vince was clearly with somebody else at the apartment as he didn't react when Butch came in, thinking it was his partner. Jules had given up 'the life' by this point and Marsellus was probably filling in on this job. For further evidence look at the scene where Butch runs Marsellus over; the 'big man' is carrying two cups and as he is near to Butch's apartment, we can assume that he is Vince's partner. 6. What was the book that Vince was reading on the toilet? "Modesty Blaise", a pulpy novel written by Peter O'Donnell in 1965 which is very much in keeping with the film's title. 7. Who was Marvin and why did Jules and Vince take him with them? I think we can assume that Marvin also works for Marsellus as Vince refers to 'our guy' before they go up to the apartment. 8. Why is there a band-aid on Marsellus' neck? The actor Ving Rhames simply had a rather ugly looking scar on the back of his neck and so the make-up artist covered this up with a band-aid so that the scar didn't distract the audience too much. 9. Red Apple cigarettes appear throughout the film, what are they? Tarantino seems to have invented this brand presumably to minimise the amount of product placement in the film. This is also done by using other brands which were around in the 1970's but are no longer available (ie Fruite Brute cereal). 10.Trivia a) During the opening scene, you can see the bottom half of Vince as he makes his way to the bathroom. Look out for his book, shorts, t-shirt and 'strut'. b) The Buddy Holly waiter in Jack Rabbit Slims is played by Steve Buscemi who as Mr Pink in Reservoir Dogs, refused to tip waitresses. c) The room in Lance's apartment where Mia receives the injection of adrenalin contains two board games, Operation and Life. d) The cabdriver, Esmeralda Villa Lobos (Angela Jones) appeared in a 30 minute short called 'Curdled' in which she played a character who cleaned up after murders. This makes her fascinated by the idea of murder. Tarantino saw this film and decided to include this character in Pulp Fiction but as a cabdriver. e) When Butch is sneaking up to his apartment, there is an advert for Jack Rabbit Slims on the radio. f) Butch's great-grandfather bought the gold watch in Knoxville, Tennessee and this is also where Butch is meeting his connection. Knoxville is Quentin Tarantino's birthplace. g) The undercard for Butch's fight is Vossler vs Martinez; Rand Vossler and Jerry Martinez are two friends of Tarantino's from his video store days. h) Lawrence Bender plays the 'long haired yuppy scum' in the restaurant hold up. i) The guy who comes out of the bathroom is played by Alexis Arquette who is the brother of Rosanna and Patricia. j) The cartoon being watched by the young Butch was 'Clutch Cargo', a kid's show from the sixties. The film playing in the motel room was 'The Losers' directed by Jack Starrett in 1970; it's about five Hell's Angels sent to Cambodia by the CIA to rescue a presidential adviser who has been captured by communists. Soundtrack and Location in the Film: Misirlou - Dick Dale Opening credits. Jungle Boogie - Kool and the Gang Opening credits. Let's Stay Together - Al Green While Jules and Vincent are at Marsellus' club. Bustin' Surfboards - The Tornadoes Playing when Rosanna Arquette is talking about her body piercing. Lonesome Town - Ricky Nelson Sung by the Ricky Nelson impersonator at Jack Rabbit Slims. Son of a Preacherman - Dusty Springfield While Vincent is waiting for Mia at her house. Bullwinkle Pt. II - Centurians As Vincent is driving to Mia's house after leaving Lance's place. Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon - Urge Overkill Mia dancing by herself while Vince is in the bathroom at her house. If Love Is A Red Dress - Maria McKee Maynard's store when Butch and Marsellus first come in fighting. Comanche - The Revels Butch and Zed "bonding" in the pawn shop. Flowers on the Wall - Statler Brothers Playing when Butch is leaving his apartment having killed Vincent. Surf Rider - The Lively Ones End credits. Tarantino Miscellany: Jules' speech from Ezekiel 25:17: 'The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides with 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 those with great vengeance and with furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know that my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.' 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. The racism question: 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 anytime 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 The 'Tarantinoverse': 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. The common names so far are as follows: Alabama - White has worked with someone of this name in RD and she is one of the main protagonists in TR. Spivey - Marsellus is mentioned in RD and Drexl appears in TR. Marsellus - as above and 'the big man' in PF. Vega - Vic (Mr Blonde) in RD and Vincent in PF. Marvin - the cop in RD and the inside man in PF. Scagnetti - Seymour in RD and Jack in NBK. 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. I don't hold with the view that Vincent and Blonde are brothers and this seems to be a much more satisfactory explanation. His Other Scripts: 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. Natural Born Killers was made by Oliver Stone and released in the US in August 1994. It's certificate has been delayed by the British Board of Film Classification until 1995 although it will premiere at the London Film Festival on November 12 1994. Tarantino asked for his credit to be purely for the story as he feels that Stone has changed the film so much from what he originally intended. Tarantino and Britain: Quentin Tarantino's films have proved to be very controversial in Britain due to their violent content. Reservoir Dogs is banned from video release and has consequently been shown at cinemas in London ever since it's release in January 1993. True Romance had it's video certificate delayed until very recently and Natural Born Killers has just had it's certificate delayed until 1995, it is possible that this film will never be seen in cinemas across the country. It is also likely that Pulp Fiction will have trouble getting a video certificate.