[Editor’s note: The following post contains spoilers for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”]
Quentin Tarantino doesn’t hide the fact his movies exist in the same cinematic universe. The connections that run through the writer-director’s filmography can be big (John Travolta’s “Pulp Fiction” character is the brother of Michael Madsen’s “Reservoir Dogs” character) or subtle (the “Pulp Fiction” Big Kahuna fast food chain first popped up in “Dogs”), but they remain consistent. All of this is to say that there is a devoted fanbase of Tarantino’s that is on the hunt for easter eggs when a new film is released, and such will be the case with “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” this summer.
One of the best Tarantino Easter eggs in “Hollywood” references the director’s 2009 WWII movie “Inglourious Basterds,” which is fitting since these two films are the Tarantino efforts that star Brad Pitt in leading roles. When “Hollywood” jumps in time from February to August 1969, it begins with a scene that reveals Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Rick Dalton took the advice of his agent (Al Pacino) and moved briefly to Italy to star as the hero in several Spaghetti Westerns. Dalton did not make it into the films of Sergio Leone, the greatest of the Spaghetti Western directors, but he did lead a film by filmmaker Antonio Margheriti.
Antonio Margheriti is a name that should instantly stand out to fans of “Inglourious Basterds.” In one of Tarantino’s funniest “Basterds” scenes, German actress Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) brings soldiers Aldo Raine (Pitt), Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz (Eli Roth), and Omar Ulmer (Omar Doom) to a Nazi film premiere under the disguise that they are Italian film workers. Donny poses as none other than director Antonio Margheriti. When the group runs into Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), he memorably has Donny pronounce “Margheriti” several times to see if his Italian accent is authentic.
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The “Basterds” scene contains another “Hollywood” connection, as Omar poses as cameraman Dominick Decocco and Aldo poses as the stuntman Enzo Gorlami. As fate would have it, Pitt plays an actual stuntman character in “Hollywood.” Pitt’s Cliff Booth is the stuntman to DiCaprio’s Rick.
Antonio Margheriti was a real Italian film director who in addition to helming Spaghetti Westerns also made science-fiction and horror movies. Margheriti’s exploitation movie “Cannibal Apocalypse” is a particular favorite of Tarantino’s. Other well-known Margheriti films include the 1983 sci-fi movie “Yor, the Hunter from the Future,” which was released in American by Columbia Pictures. Columbia’s parent company, Sony, is releasing “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Sony is the first major Hollywood studio to release a Tarantino film.
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is now playing in theaters nationwide.