10 Movies That Have Inspired Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino

We live in the post-modern post-modernist internet era where everybody steals from everyone and while some are afraid to admit it, there are others who openly do.   Quentin Tarantino is one of those artists who has openly admitted to borrowing from the movies that he loves. Even though he hasn't been so open about it in the past.     When his film RESERVOIR DOGS first hit the scene, like a tidal wave in 1992, he claimed to have never seen Ringo Lam's CITY ON FIRE [1987]--a film that was clearly his inspiration for the plot for his own film.    Likely, it doesn't matter whether you think Tarantino is a rip-off artist or the second coming of film--we can all agree that he makes some pretty bad-ass movies.

Here are some shots from Tarantino's movies and shots from the movies that inspired them.

Pulp Fiction The Bodyguard (1976)

It's the most quotable speech from Tarantino's 1994 film PULP FICTION..."Ezekiel 25:17. The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny..."    It's spoken by Samuel L. Jackson at the end of PULP FICTION, but really, is the beginning of the film.   But did you know that the speech was taken from a kung-fu movie from the '70s?    Sam L. Jackson's Ezekiel speech was lifted from the opening credits of the 1976 film THE BODYGUARD which starred Japanese dirty-fighting tough guy martial-arts actor Sonny Chiba.    Tarantino would resurrect Chiba's career in 2002 when he would cast him as "Hattori Hanz┼Ź" the sword maker in KILL BILL: VOL I (2003).  Hanzo, more than just a fictional character in the Tarantino universe, was an actual samurai sword maker during World War II.  

Crazy 88s Bruce Lee Kato Green Hornet

Someone could make an entire documentary about the numerous references in KILL BILL VOL I. to the legendary martial arts actor Bruce Lee.   Uma Thurman's yellow jumpsuit in KILL BILL was directly inspired by Bruce Lee's costume in his last film, GAME OF DEATH (1976), which Lee himself never actually finished shooting due to his tragic and mysterious death.     The Crazy 88's of KILL BILL VOL. 1 and their green/black face masks were inspired by the mask worn by Bruce Lee in the role of "Kato" as he appeared in the 1966 ABC television series The Green Hornet with actor Van Williams.

Pulp Fiction Fellini's 8/12 dance sequence

Do you remember that fun dance sequence at Jack Rabbit Slims in Tarantino's PULP FICTION set to anyhow, and maybe the quirkiness of it, was inspired by a scene from the 1963 Italian film classic  8 1/2, which was directed by the great Federico Fellini.   

Gone With The Wind Django Unchained

And then how about that big scrolling "Mississippi" that shoots across the screen early on in Tarantino's film DJANGO UNCHAINED (2013)?    Tarantino likely took inspiration from the '30s film classic GONE WITH THE WIND for that one....

The Graduate Jackie Brown opening

It's a pretty memorable opening to a film.    Which is why it's so easy to identify as being something that Tarantino lifted. In Tarantino's best film, JACKIE BROWN (1997), Pam Grier opens the film by exiting the airport.  Dustin Hoffman, in Mike Nichol's film THE GRADUATE [1967] is also arriving at the beginning of that film.  Obvious one.

Quentin Tarantino The Patsy Jerry Lewis

People often overlook or don't remember Tarantino's story inside of the 1995 film FOUR ROOMS.   In Tarantino's story, the bellboy, who is played by actor Tim Roth across all the stories of the film, visits Tarantino and friends in the suite at a hotel in Beverly Hills.    The penthouse suite that Tarantino's character rents is the same suite used by comedian Jerry Lewis in his 1964 film THE PATSY.   Like Tim Roth, Lewis plays a bumbling bellboy in the film.   In the 2012 documentary THE GENIUS OF JERRY LEWIS, Tarantino, appearing in an on-camera interview, suggests that the suits worn by the actors in THE PATSY also inspired those worn by his characters in RESERVOIR DOGS.   And in FOUR ROOMS Tarantino even talks about Jerry Lewis as "The Bellboy."

Django Unchained McCabe & Mrs. Miller

In the first half of DJANGO UNCHAINED actors Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz are bundled up for the winter travel that the characters forego.   Waltz's costume is strikingly similar to the one that was worn by actor Warren Beatty in Robert Altman's 1971 film MCCABE & MRS. MILLER and Foxx's jacket and hat look identical to those worn by actor Robert Redford in BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID [1969]. 

pulp fiction suitcase

Did you ever figure out what was in the suitcase that the characters in PULP FICTION are searching for?  Did you ever notice the bandage on the back of Ving Rhimes neck in the film?    Perhaps, we could debate the contents of the suitcase in PULP FICTION for the next 100 years and we still wouldn't be able to agree on its secret, but one thing that most can agree on is where Tarantino borrowed the idea for the suitcase from for the film in the first place.    The glowing suitcase is from Robert Aldrich's 1955 film-noir KISS ME DEADLY.  In the finale scene in KISS ME DEADLY, the suitcase, once opened up melts the female who has opened it.   Can you imagine if that would have happened to John Travolta in PULP FICTION?  It would've made it a different movie, wouldn't it?

hateful eight cut-throats nine

Although it hasn't been released yet, Tarantino's latest THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015) seems like it is likely a re-imaging, but with Quentin's style, of the obscure gritty Italian exploitation western from 1972, CUT-THROATS NINE. But we'll see once it comes out...

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