Good morning, Internet. It’s Monday morning, some of you are still recovering from the holidays, and a few of you are probably still mulling on your mixed feelings about Django Unchained. You look like you could use a Quentin Tarantino montage of the most obsessive type.
Some people at CollegeHumor (I know, but bear with me here) put together a six-minute supercut of nearly every pop culture reference in Tarantino’s films (save for Django) in chronological order of the references. There are a few takeaways from this video, most of them pretty obvious to Tarantino fans, other than someone spending way too much time on clickbaity montages like this: the crash course in the early days of 20th century German cinema throughout Inglourious Basterds, the greatest fraction of the supercut going to references from the 1970s (surprising no one), the most recent reference being one to Lindsay Lohan in Death Proof. Also, totally forgot about the Pam Grier shoutout in Reservoir Dogs. Foreshadowing great things to come, I guess. Watch.
Quentin Tarantino’s slavery spaghetti western Django Unchained delivers all of the usual Tarantino goodness: brilliant dialogue, over-the-top cartoonish violence, fantastic performances from Tarantino regulars Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson, and a whole lot of controversy. More impressively, the film’s soundtrack is the usual combination of familiar tunes from Tarantino’s cinematic inspirations, as well as a few original tracks from John Legend, Rick Ross, and RZA. While we’ll have to patiently wait for another year or two before those musical sequences to end up on YouTube (only to be likely taken down because of copyright infringement), let’s take a look back at Tarantino’s catalog and take a listen at the songs we’ve come to associate with the modern-day auteur.
Stealers Wheel – "Stuck In The Middle With You" (from Reservoir Dogs)
What’s the best way to get the kids interested in Gerry Rafferty? Why, scoring an ear slicing with one of his catchiest tunes, naturally. It’s really a shame that this scene didn’t do for Michael Madsen what Pulp Fiction did for John Travolta. Who know the man had such moves?
Chuck Berry – "You Never Can Tell" (from Pulp Fiction)
This is arguably Tarantino’s most recognizable scene from arguably his most popular movie. It not only made him a household name, but it reinvigorated the career of John Travolta, who had been struggling in years prior in talking baby movies. And don’t get me wrong, I love a talking baby movie. But I’d much rather see Travolta cutting a rug with weird hair.
Bobby Womack – "Across 110th Street" (from Jackie Brown)
Jackie Brown is Tarantino’s biggest stand-out. It lacks the gritty or cartoon violence of his other films (it contains, total, just four measly, relatively bloodless murders), and the focus is entirely on plot, dialogue, and the acting. And while there’s no big dance sequence, the opening credits are fantastic. All it takes is a few tracking shots and Pam Grier to set the tone of the film, and Bobby Womack’s soulful voice ties it all together.
The 5,6,7,8’s – "Woo Hoo" (from Kill Bill Vol. 1)
It’s refreshing when Tarantino pulls out a new song from his jukebox. In the first half of his samari epic, Tarantino brings the old school into the picture with fresh treatment. It seems only natural for the big musical number in Kill Bill Vol. 1 to involve a band that mashes up a wide selection of sounds and elements. It’s the musical equivalent of a Tarantino film, really.
Bernard Herrmann – "Twisted Nerve" (from Kill Bill Vol. 2)
Kill Bill marked the first time Tarantino picked up classic scores from old films, and Bernard Herrmann’s "Twisted Nerve," the theme from the 1968 psychological thriller of the same name, became, in turn, a Tarantino classic. (It even makes a cameo in Death Proof as Rosario Dawson’s ring tone.)
The Drifters – "Down in Mexico" (from Death Proof)
Death Proof, one half of Tarantino’s Grindhouse collaboration with Robert Rodriguez, stands on its own feet as a perfect action thriller as well as a quintessential Tarantino flick. In one of the film’s best (and sexiest) scenes, Vanessa Ferlito delivers perhaps the best lapcdance in cinematic history to a terrifying (and weirdly sexy) Kurt Russell. It should come as no surprise that the jukebox playing this jam is Tarantino’s own.
David Bowie – "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" (from Inglourious Basterds)
Here’s another case of a song written for a movie being appropriated for one in Tarantino’s own oeuvre. Wisely using the long, slow-building version of the Giorgio Moroder / David Bowie collaboration from Paul Schrader’s 1982 erotic thriller (as opposed from the shorter, radio-friendly version from Let’s Dance), Tarantino builds the tension and nearly gives away the film’s ending. (Hint: it involves a lot of flames.)
As you can see in the below newly released clip from the upcoming mafia flick Killing Them Softly, Ray Liotta gets beaten up in a mobile home. People being beat up in trailers has a long and hallowed history in the anals of American cinema. Also in the annals of cinemas! But as one used the internet to research this hallowed history, one finds that things didn’t go as planned. In fact, one breaks the internet.
I had this post all planned out. I was going to embed clips from such notable films as Kill Bill Vol. 2, in which Uma Thurman’s Bride beats up Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) in a dirty trailer, and also the scene in Super Troopers where the two municipal agencies have a tuf fight in a trailer. I might even have stretched the gallery to include that scene in Breaking Bad where sweet Jesse Pinkman is beaten up in his mobile meth lab. Certainly I would have included Raising Arizona, thought by many mobile home fight enthusiasts as the primus inter pares of the genre. Unfortunately, there’s absolutely no way to find the relevent scenes of these films by Googling their titles and the word trailer. Here’s what happens when you Google Kill Bill Vol. 2 and the word trailer:
That’s the rub! "Movie title + trailer" only returns results for the trailer of the movie in question. Homonyms are the Wild West of the internet. But this is also where I had my John Henry moment. If you Google more wisely, for instance, as only a human can, "Elle vs. Bea" one does find what one is looking for. Et voila!: Man beats machine.
As far as I can tell, you’ll just have take my word for the Super Troopers scene. However, deep in the YouTube archives I did find this, and man is it worth it!
And that is the extent to which the internet and the latest algorithms can provide an aspiring blogger with material for a post about fight scenes in trailers.
This is an inspired hybrid of renegade, Banksy-style street-art and everyday Hollywood billboard antics, and it’s been wasted on an Auckland, New Zealand local channel promoting their screening of the film. This is Sunset Blvd. material, in the weeks leading up to the film’s release, not a TV showing of it three years after it. Either way, it’s cutting edge.