Twenty Years of Tarantino

By Vanessa Butler

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We break down the cars, the celebs, the soundtracks and the iconic outfit in celebration of Tarantino’s 20 years in film.


It’s kind of a big deal when a prolific director celebrates two decades in film, releases one of the most highly anticipated films of the year and gives out an interview to Playboy all in the same month. Only a man like Tarantino can pull off 20 years of film in style, winning a slew of awards along the way. We’ve broken down his films in the best way possible by reminiscing about the music, babes, cars and sharp-looking black suit that have made him the film deity he is today.

Using approximately 100 songs in his first four movies, Tarantino’s soundtracks are as celebrated as his films. Tarantino understands that songs are an integral part of the tone and setting of a film, which is why the tracks he handpicks to score his most poignant scenes are so legendary. “If you put the right piece of music with the right sequence, I actually truly think it’s the most cinematic thing you can do,” Tarantino told one British reporter during a press junket for Death Proof. “It’s the most magical cinema can be.”

Chuck Berry – “You Never Can Tell” (Pulp Fiction)

You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry on Grooveshark

“This scene is funny because it’s a situation is happening in the film where John Travolta and Uma Thurman are in this like ’50s restaurant and then all of the sudden they have this twist contest. And the thing is everybody thinks that I wrote this scene to have John Travolta dancing. But the scene existed before John Travolta was cast; it was like, ‘Great. We get to see John dance.’” – Tarantino on Charlie Rose

The 5.6.7.8’s – “Woo Hoo” (Kill Bill: Volume 1)

Woo Hoo by The 5 6 7 8s on Grooveshark

The story goes like this. While Tarantino was scouting in Tokyo for Kill Bill, he stopped in at a secondhand clothing store and heard a recording of the band The 5.6.7.8’s. He asks the owner who the trio was, buys the album the next time he sees it and instantly falls for the band. Once he listens to the song “Woo Hoo,” Tarantino visualizes the long cascading shot in the House of Blue Leaves and the fight that unfolds as the retro garage trio play as  themselves as the house band.

George Baker Selection – “Little Green Bag” (Reservoir Dogs)

Little Green Bag by George Baker Selection on Grooveshark

Tarantino believes that once a director finds the perfect song for the opening scene, it makes the film come alive for the audience and revs them up for the rest. It’s remarkable that Tarantino can make songs from different eras into cult classics today, and without the ’69 song “Little Green Bag,” the world’s introduction to one of the best ensemble casts to ever grace the silver screen wouldn’t have been the same. The first draft of the film originally had Pink Floyd’s “Money” in its place, but after hearing the song on the radio, Tarantino became extremely nostalgic and decided to replace it.

Like any renowned director, the women he keeps company with play a pivotal role in the success of his films. Tarantino’s female leads are always strong, beautiful and usually barefoot (every man has his kink), kicking the ass of anyone who crosses their path. Although some may argue that his female roles are hypersexualized, we see it as a celebration of the beauty of women.

Uma Thurman (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill)

They may have only made three films together, but Thurman and Tarantino are synonymous with each other. Often referred to as Tarantino’s muse, Thurman originally turned down her legendary role of Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction.  Her “no” was met with an unwavering Tarantino who read her the script over the phone to convince her to take the role. Usually seen barefoot in his films, Thurman let Tarantino’s dreams become reality when she let him drink champagne from her shoe during a toast at the Friars Club Roast in New York City back in 2010.

Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds)

“A lot of directors idealize their leading ladies or turn them into these objects of sexuality and beauty. But for Quentin, it’s not about that. He really elevates you, but not in the sense of how well you’re lit or how well you’re dressed—it seems sometimes like he doesn’t really care about that stuff; he’s someone who looks at women much more as part of his creation. I feel like I’ve never been looked at by a director in quite the way Quentin looks at me.”  – Diane Kruger on working with Tarantino in Interview Magazine

Kerry Washington (Django Unchained)

Tarantino had hoped to cast a new face for the role of Broomhilda von Shaft, Django’s wife, but ultimately went for Scandal’s Kerry Washington. Did you know that Django and Broomhilda are meant to be the great-great-great-great-grandparents of John Shaft, from the Shaft movie series?

There are a lot of recurring themes, props and camera angles in Tarantino films, and one that’s near and dear to us is his use of cars. We’re not talking about the white Honda Civic which pops up in such films as Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and Kill Bill: Volume 2, we’re talking about the incredible vintage wheels that make his characters timelessly cool.

1972 Mustang Grande (Death Proof)

There were a ton of cars to ogle in Tarantino’s B-film throwback Death Proof, but our hearts were set on the 1972 Mustang Grande as soon as it appeared on screen. Obviously, its paint job is meant to match the tracksuit Uma Thurman wore in Kill Bill, which makes it sweeter. Though it didn’t get much playtime, it definitely stands out as one of the coolest cars Tarantino has cast to date.

1974 Chevy Nova (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction)

Ah, the Chevy Nova. While we personally wouldn’t be caught dead in one of these things, it’s apparent that Tarantino has a soft spot for them…kind of. The car’s interior is first seen in Reservoir Dogs, when a bloody mess of a man, Mr. Orange, is transported to the abandoned warehouse where most of the story plays out. The next time we see the car is in Pulp Fiction, where, again, it’s the setting of some bloody carnage. Fans know that all of Tarantino’s films are supposed to be set in the same reality, so many have hypothesized that the Chevy Nova is in fact the same car.

Chevrolet Silverado SS “Pussy Wagon” (Kill Bill vol 1)

In his latest interview with Playboy, Tarantino admitted not only to still owning the Pussy Wagon but to proudly displaying it in his driveway. The fan-favorite Pussy Wagon, although only seen in the first Kill Bill film, was last used in Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” music video back in 2010. “We were having lunch one day in Los Angeles and I was telling him about my concept for the video and he said, ‘You gotta use the Pussy Wagon!’” Gaga told E! News.

In his latest interview with Playboy, Tarantino admitted not only to still owning the Pussy Wagon but to proudly displaying it in his driveway. The fan-favorite Pussy Wagon, although only seen in the first Kill Bill film, was last used in Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” music video back in 2010. “We were having lunch one day in Los Angeles and I was telling him about my concept for the video and he said, ‘You gotta use the Pussy Wagon!’” Gaga told E! News.

Tarantino refers to the black suits most of his characters are clad in as their suits of armor. “That’s my style, my guys wear black suits,” Tarantino told AFI.com. “It’s like Melville’s trench coats or John Woo’s pigeons or Leone’s dusters. It was my sense of style.” The guys from Reservoir Dogs, the most notorious black suit wearers of the bunch, were dressed by costume designer Betsy Heimann, who was tasked with dressing all of the characters for a cool 10,000 dollars. “I am very pleased that the narrow silhouette I created influenced and still influences men’s fashion,” she told clothesonfilm.com. “I think that Quentin is responsible for the pop culture legacy of the film. The characters and the mood are contagious, just like Quentin’s enthusiasm for filmmaking.”

Can't shake the Tarantino bug? Grab yourself the box set Tarantino XX which features 8 essential films - Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill vol. 1, Kill Bill vol. 2, Jackie Brown, Death Proof and True Romance - plus two bonus discs with over five hours of never-before-seen special features., Better yet, test your Tarantino knowledge over on Twitter where @PlayboyDotCom will be giving away a copy.


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