Tarantino On Pam Grier In 'XX' Retrospective: 'I Wanted To Be Josef Von Sternberg To Her Dietrich'

Quentin Tarantino -- early influences, Pam Grier

If Quentin Tarantino's demonstrative hand gestures don't distract you too much, here's an interesting clip in which the Django Unchained director discusses the influence that crime novelist Elmore Leonard had on his formative years as a screenwriter and filmmaker, as well as his appreciation of actress Pam Grier. Rolling Stone posted this exclusive video, which is part of the bonus material included in  Tarantino XX, a 10-disc Blu-Ray box set that collects the eight movies from the first 20 years of his career:  Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, both Kill Bill films, Death Proof and Inglourious Basterds.

In what appears to be a Film Independent Q&A on Tarantino's 1997 film Jackie Brown, which was adapted from a Leonard novel, the filmmaker explains that he used to read the writer's books and "adapt them into movies in my mind," asking himself: "How would I turn this into a movie?"  He adds that engaging in that mental exercise, "years before I could ever afford to make a movie, really..helped me with my structure."

There's also a curious moment at the end of the clip where Tarantino talks about wanting "to be Josef von Sternberg" to Pam Grier's "Dietrich."  While I appreciate Tarantino's appreciation of Grier's talent, I think that line says more about him than her. Von Sternberg made the little known Marlene Dietrich a star when he cast her in The Blue Angel and then worked with her for five more films. Grier was hardly an unknown when Tarantino began working with her. Thanks to her roles in Coffy and Foxy Brown , Grier was already a cult icon. Tarantino merely reminded us of that. He also didn't exactly make her a star.

[Rolling Stone]

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  • anonymous says:

    Strange that True Romance is included in the box set, yet Natural Born Killers is not...

    Could it be that in spite of the fact Tarantino was furious about the movie at the time, he doesn't want anyone to notice how completely he ripped of Oliver Stone's techniques when it came to Kill Bill part 1?

    • Ju-osh says:

      Fun fact: Both Natural Born Killers and the Kill Bill films share the same cinematographer: Robert Richardson. The "techniques" you gave Oliver Stone credit for were actually Richardson's. In the NBK making-of book, Killer Instinct, Stone is quite open about this.

      I agree, though -- I would've liked to have NBK in this box set. It would have been fun to hear a Tarantino commentary for it!

      • anonymous says:

        I don't think you can credit Robert Richardson with the use of animation, sound design (particularly the way music was utilised) story structure (can't even credit Tarantino there, if you've ever read his NBK screenplay) and arguably some of the editing techniques.

        Sure Richardson is literally responsible for the photographic techniques, be that cross-processing / black & white, etc - thats his job. Same is true for the craftspeople responsible for the make-up effects, editing, sound mix etc.

        It's up to the director (in this case Stone) to utilise those peoples knowledge and skills, to tell the story as he sees fit - that's all encompassed within his technique of bringing his vision to the screen.

        I think Richardson has shot most of Stone's movies, and a number of Tarantino's since Kill Bill, but as I mentioned, that's just one small aspect of how he completely ransacked Stones bag of tricks from NBK, and put it to use in Kill Bill vol. 1

        It would be fascinating to see them back to back, and as you say, hear Tarantino's commentary for both (has he ever done a commentary for any of his films other than From Dusk Till Dawn?).

        I'll have to try and track down a copy of that book, it passed me by. Is it still available?

        I just don't get why True Romance is included in this box set, if they leave out NBK, Grindhouse, and From Dusk Till Dawn.

        Grindhouse is the movie that was sold to the public, not Death Proof. It was designed as the double feature + trailers - they only got broken down to individual released because Dimension, or the Weinsteins, shit their pants when barely anyone went along to sit through a double feature.

        Either include his complete filmography, or just stick to the movies he has directed - I hate these ill-conceived box sets - thankfully I already own most of these as individual titles.

        Would be great if the box set included the feature length UK documentary shot between Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction (the moment where he produces the Dukes of Hazard, Sheriff Rosco action figure, and reveals that James Best is actually his acting coach, or where he proudly displays his VHS collection, but never acknowledges that they are all stored on top of magnets, are priceless) as well as the documentary with QT and Tim Robbins rummaging around in Sam Fullers garage.

        Would be great to see those again.

  • Hosea says:

    Great post.Thanks Again. Awesome.

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  • olimila says:

    Love Jackie Brown and Pam Grier. Check out this interview with Robert Forster on what was his favorite Quentin on set direction he was given: http://www.indiefilmhustle.com/ifh-002-oscar-nominee-legendary-actor-robert-forster/