Remembering 7 Quintessential Clips From the Quentin Tarantino/Sally Menke Canon

Film editor Sally Menke's untimely death Monday at age 56 is all the more tragic for ending one of the longest, most inspired and fruitful creative collaborations in Hollywood. Over seven films and nearly 19 years working with Quentin Tarantino, Menke has refined the director's chatty, kinetic, violent and gleefully derivative impulses into visionary cinema, from the first garrulous scene of Reservoir Dogs to the last visceral shots of Inglourious Basterds. Movieline parsed their work together for a few milestones, of which were many; read on for the NSFW high points.

1. Reservoir Dogs -- Introduction

The first scene in the Tarantino canon, and still one of the best -- not least because of his assiduous coverage and his ensemble's attention to each other (with the exception of Lawrence Tierney, whose brief aloofness proves the jarring segue we need from the "Like a Virgin" and "I Don't Tip" segments). But Menke's genius with the reaction shot was the most important thing she brought to Tarantino's wordy cinema, and it was rarely achieved again as elegantly as their collaboration here.

2. Pulp Fiction -- "I Shot Marvin in the Face"

It's three guys, five set-ups, four cuts, and a voluminous spray of blood and brain matter, all in the service of one classic line of dialogue. If they don't work, it doesn't work. I think you know how it turned out.

3. Pulp Fiction -- Adrenaline Shot

Probably an obvious choice -- but not necessarily because of that unbearable, minute-long build-up at the end. Look at what comes before it: Wide-to-medium shots in long takes, starting in the expanse of the front yard before moving into the wide-angled confines of the house. The takes shorten, the depth of field flattens, the frames shrink all the way down to extreme close-ups lasting a few seconds apiece. That's basic visual tempo -- hardly a Tarantino/Menke invention, but deployed about as well as you possibly can. It's no accident there's no score in this scene; listen for the crickets.

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