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"Making the Movie on the Page": Rare 1992 Interview With Quentin Tarantino for 'Reservoir Dogs' (Exclusive Book Excerpt)

By Paul Zimmerman | Indiewire December 24, 2012 at 10:00AM

Quentin Tarantino is celebrating 20 years of filmmaking with the release of a DVD box set of all eight of his films — plus the Christmas release of his latest big-screen opus, “Django Unchained.” Film fans and the journalists who have covered Tarantino’s career for just as long are reevaluating his work, as well.
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Your film has been compared to Kubrick’s “The Killing” (1956), but I saw a lot of John Huston's seminal heist-gone-wrong drama “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950), too.

Yes, “Killing” is almost a paraphrase remake of “Jungle,” but I think it’s a lot better.

But Sterling Hayden, who plays the lead in both films, is great when he does his “you’re boning me” speech in “Asphalt Jungle.”

He’s great in both, but I love when Hayden [in “The Killing”] says to Marie Windsor, “I’ll slap that pretty face into hamburger meat.” [emits a high-pitched laugh]

Tarantino in Toronto with his "Reservoir Dogs" poster, in 1992.
Malcolm Ingram Tarantino in Toronto with his "Reservoir Dogs" poster, in 1992.
Has Madonna seen the movie? [The film opens with a hilarious and profane debate among a bunch of tough guys about what “Like a Virgin” means.]

She’s heard about it and wants to see it, but they’re making her wait until the New York premiere. When she does, I know she’s going to admit that’s what “Like a Virgin” is about.

[NOTE: Madonna reportedly saw and enjoyed the film. Some time later, she gave Tarantino an autographed copy of Erotica, her latest CD, on which she wrote: “Quentin, it’s about love, not dick.”]

You have one intense scene that ends with a great audience release. Have you had any audiences actually cheer?

I’ve had some cheering. It’s cool.

The closest I can equate it to is the Russian roulette scene in “The Deer Hunter.”

You’ve just paid me a hell of a compliment. Because I think that’s one of the best action scenes ever.

Your cast mentioned your script stood out because they had read such lousy scripts just prior. If you win any awards, you should thank all the hacks out there.

The problem with scripts now is people who have no business at all are writing scripts. And they’re not writing what they have inside that they want out. They’re writing what they think a movie should be, their version of “Romancing the Stone.”

It’s like the old notion you should write something you would like to see. They don't feel it; it's just something they think someone wants to buy.

Exactly! And they read these Syd Field screenwriting books, and the only reason to buy it should be the pleasure of burning it. They’re their own worst oppressors. They don't even need the studios to fuck over their scripts.

They're shackling themselves to begin with.

Exactly. I didn’t write to sell, I wrote to direct it. But first you have to get past the readers, and they're the ones that always blew my stuff off. And I didn’t know if the dramatic structure would work. It was a theory I had. That if you were to take a novelistic structure and put it into film, it would be very cinematic. Edit it like that. Tell a story like that. Chapter headings. And you know on the printed page the vulgarity is much stronger. People who read the script never mention the violence. Vulgarity stands out more on the page. They’re most upset over the racial remarks.

You can check out more about the book "Virgin Noir" on its Facebook page.

This article is related to: Quentin Tarantino, Interviews, Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Virgin Noir







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