“Once upon a time … in Hollywood”, by Tarantino, the game of seven similarities

“Once upon a time … in Hollywood”, by Tarantino, the game of seven similarities

“Once upon a time … in Hollywood”, by Tarantino, the game of seven similarities

Quentin Tarantino’s latest feature film can conjure up a treasure hunt. A concentrate at times encrypted of quotes from films and emblematic series of the 60s. Seven keys to orient yourself in the best possible way.

As an insane lover of cinema, Quentin Tarantino has sprinkled his ten feature films with multiple references, homages and other nods to the seventh art, with a fondness for the darker B series, even Z. So it’s no surprise that this taste for total quotation has found its apogee Once upon a time … in Hollywood (aired for the first time free-to-air in France), a film that celebrates the stars with passion and melancholy and, above all, the unbridled American cinema of the late sixties.

The director brilliantly mixes the true and the false, brings together real-life characters such as Sharon Tate (played by Margot Robbie) and others totally fictitious, such as second-class comedian Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Inventory, not necessarily exhaustive, of the films and series that have influenced the scenario and the staging of this “story of facts” as playful as it is touching.

Steve McQueen tries for

Steve McQueen rehearses for John Sturges’ “The Great Escape”.

United Artists

“The Great Escape” (1963)

Tarantino likes to cite the most misunderstood films, if not the most unlikely. But for once he pays tribute to a huge success. Rick Dalton is known in the industry for failing to star in this classic war film: he would be on the final list of actors approached to play the rebel captain Virgil Hilts, aka “the king of the refrigerator”. Steve McQueen was finally preferred to him and became a star.

In a bluffing reconstitution sequence, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character imagines himself in John Sturges’ film in the place of his rival – and so we better understand Rick Dalton’s discomfort, who nearly missed the role that would change his life. ..

Sharon Tate in one of her latest roles, in a formidable nanar:

Sharon Tate in one of her latest roles, in a formidable nanar: “Matt Helm does the math”.

Columbia Pictures – Meadway-Claude Productions Company

“Matt Helm Settles His Earl” (1968)

The fourth and final chapter in the comic adventures of spy Matt Helm (The crew of the wrecker, in its original version), starring Dean Martin, was one of the last films Sharon Tate made before her assassination. Tarantino makes him the subject of one of the most beautiful scenes of Once upon a time … in Hollywood, when the rising star goes to a public cinema to see her performance.

Magical moment in which Margot Robbie, fascinated, looks at the real Sharon Tate on the screen. And the confirmation that Tarantino is a great filmmaker: it takes a lot of talent to be able to move with a formidable nanar like Matt Helm does his math.

Bruce Lee plays Kato, the karateka butler in an ephemeral series with masked vigilantes,

Bruce Lee plays Kato, the karate butler in an ephemeral series with masked vigilantes, “The Green Hornet”.

Fox 20th century television

“The Green Hornet” (1966-1967)

This ABC series only lasted one season. But he made show business for revealing Bruce Lee as Kato, the crime-fighting martial arts butler alongside his boss, “The Green Hornet.” Tarantino evokes him through a hilarious filming scene in which Cliff Booth the stuntman, visiting the sets, challenges the future – and a little presumptuous – “Little Dragon” (played by Mike Moh) for an anthological fight.

“Ranch L” (1968-1970)

Quentin Tarantino is a joker from hell. He specifies that Rick Dalton’s character has had his moment of glory thanks to a series of totally fictional cowboys named Size law (“Bounty Hunter”) … but she cast him as a bad boy in another western series, ranch l (To throw in VO), this is very real. In this lengthy sequence, Rick Dalton meets the star of the show, James Stacy (played by Timothy Oliphant), takes instructions from his director, veteran Sam Wanamaker (who was really behind the camera for the first season of To throw) and rehearses his great scene with a very young experienced partner at the Actors Studio – fictional, her.

Tarantino also recycled another very popular series from the 60s into his film: On the trail of crime (The FBI in VO, 1965-1974) was a hymn to the glory of federal investigators. Rick Dalton plays there, once again, an ephemeral “bad boy”. The opportunity for the director to shoot a fake episode that is more real than life, with Leonardo DiCaprio who, in a tasty mirror effect, watches himself embody his own character on TV.

“Easy Rider” (1969)

The most emblematic feature film of the counterculture is briefly mentioned in the dialogues of Once upon a time … in Hollywood. But Easy Rider it is an essential work to understand the situation of American cinema in 1969 – and, therefore, Tarantino’s film. The unexpected success of Dennis Hopper’s road movie rocked Hollywood, putting a new generation, more Protestant, at the head of the studios and surpassing the representatives of the “old” cinema, such as Rick Dalton. We understand better the hostility of the latter towards them “fucking hippie” !

“Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice” (1969)

When you quit Once upon a time … in Hollywood, In the summer of 2019, Tarantino held a feature film retrospective in relation to his new film at his Los Angeles cinema, the New Beverly. There was Paul Mazursky’s comedy of manners, a big hit when it came out and well forgotten ever since. A first-hand account of the atmosphere of sexual freedom and hedonism that reigned in California at the time and that Tarantino has masterfully recreated.

Model shop (1969)

As surprising as it may seem, Jacques Demy influenced Tarantino! Not for the (rare) musical sequences of Once upon a time … in Hollywood but for his vision of Los Angeles: Brad Pitt’s Cadillac trips owe much to Gary Lockwood’s superb wanderings in Model shop, the only film directed by the author of Cherbourg umbrellas during his brief exile in California.


r Once upon a time … in Hollywood, film by Quentin Tarantino (2h40), Sunday 4 September at 9:10 pm, on France 2.

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