Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
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Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byQuentin Tarantino
Produced by
Written byQuentin Tarantino
Starring
CinematographyRobert Richardson
Edited byFred Raskin[1]
Production
companies
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • May 21, 2019 (2019-05-21) (Cannes)
  • July 26, 2019 (2019-07-26) (United States)
  • August 14, 2019 (2019-08-14) (United Kingdom)
Running time
161 minutes[2]
Country
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$90-96 million[3]
Box office$373.4 million[4]

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood[a] is a 2019 comedy-drama film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Produced by Columbia Pictures, Bona Film Group, Heyday Films, and Visiona Romantica and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing, it is a co-production between the United States and the United Kingdom. It features a large ensemble cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie. Set in 1969 Los Angeles, the film follows an actor and his stunt double, as they navigate the changing film industry, and features "multiple storylines in a modern fairy tale tribute to the final moments of Hollywood's golden age".[5][6][7]

Announced in July 2017, it is the first Tarantino film to not involve Bob and Harvey Weinstein, as Tarantino ended his partnership with them following the sexual abuse allegations against the latter. After a bidding war, the film was distributed by Sony Pictures, which met Tarantino's demands including final cut privilege. Pitt, DiCaprio, Robbie, Zoë Bell, Kurt Russell, and others joined the cast between January and June 2018. Principal photography lasted from June through November around Los Angeles. It is the last film to feature Luke Perry, who died in March 2019.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on July 26, 2019 and in the United Kingdom on August 14. The film has grossed $373 million worldwide and received praise from critics for Tarantino's screenplay and direction, acting, cinematography, costume design, production values, and soundtrack.

Among its various accolades, the film was chosen by the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of the year. At the 77th Golden Globe Awards, it won a leading three awards, including Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy and Best Supporting Actor for Pitt. It received 10 nominations each at the 92nd Academy Awards and the 73rd British Academy Film Awards; both ceremonies have included nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (DiCaprio), and Best Supporting Actor (Pitt).

Plot

In February 1969, veteran Hollywood actor Rick Dalton, star of 1950s Western television series Bounty Law, fears his career is coming to an end. Casting agent Marvin Schwarz advises him to travel to Italy to make Spaghetti Westerns, which Dalton feels are beneath him. Dalton's best friend and stunt double, Cliff Booth --- a war veteran skilled in hand-to-hand combat[8] who lives in a tiny trailer with his pit bull, Brandy --- drives Dalton around Los Angeles because Dalton's drinking has resulted in several DUI tickets. Booth struggles to find stunt work in Hollywood due to rumors that he murdered his wife. Actress Sharon Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski, have moved next door to Dalton, who dreams of befriending them as a means of reviving his declining acting career. That night, Tate and Polanski attend a celebrity-filled party at the Playboy Mansion.

The next day while repairing Dalton's TV antenna, Booth reminisces about a sparring contest he had with Bruce Lee on the set of The Green Hornet which resulted in Booth being fired. Meanwhile, Charles Manson stops by the Polanski residence looking for music producer Terry Melcher, who used to live there, but is turned away by Jay Sebring. Tate goes for errands and stops at a movie theater to watch herself in the film The Wrecking Crew.

While driving Dalton's car, Booth picks up a female hitchhiker named Pussycat, whom he takes to Spahn Ranch, where Booth once worked on the set of Bounty Law. He takes notice of the many hippies living there (the Manson Family). Suspecting they may be taking advantage of the ranch's owner, George Spahn, Booth insists on checking on him despite "Squeaky" Fromme's objections. Booth finally speaks with Spahn, who dismisses his concerns. Upon leaving, Booth discovers that Steve "Clem" Grogan has slashed a tire on Dalton's car; Booth beats him and forces him to change the tire. Tex Watson is summoned to deal with the situation but he arrives as Booth is driving away.

Dalton is cast to play the villain in the pilot of Lancer, and strikes up a conversation with his eight-year-old co-star, Trudi Fraser. Dalton struggles to remember his lines and later suffers a breakdown in his trailer. He subsequently delivers a performance that impresses Fraser and the director, Sam Wanamaker, bolstering his confidence. After watching Dalton's guest performance on an episode of The F.B.I., Schwarz books him as the lead in Sergio Corbucci's next Spaghetti Western, Nebraska Jim. Dalton takes Booth with him for a six-month stint in Italy, during which he appears in two additional Westerns and a Eurospy comedy, and marries Italian starlet Francesca Capucci. With a new wife, Dalton informs Booth he can no longer afford his services.

On the evening of their first day back in Los Angeles, Dalton and Booth go out for drinks to commemorate their time working together and then return to Dalton's house. Tate and Sebring go out for dinner with friends and then return to Tate's house. Booth smokes an acid-laced cigarette purchased from a hippy girl in the street and takes Brandy for a walk while Dalton prepares drinks. Manson Family members Tex, Sadie, Flower Child, and Katie arrive outside in preparation to murder everyone in Tate's house. Dalton hears the car and orders them to get off his street. Changing their plans, the Manson Family members decide to instead kill Dalton after Sadie reasons that Hollywood has "taught them to murder". Flower Child deserts the group, speeding off with their car. They break into Dalton's house and confront Capucci and Booth, who recognizes them from his visit to Spahn Ranch. Booth orders Brandy to attack, and together they kill Katie and Tex and injure Sadie, though Booth is stabbed and knocked unconscious in the altercation. Sadie stumbles outside, alarming Dalton, who is in his pool listening to music on headphones, oblivious to the mayhem. Dalton retrieves a flamethrower that he had previously used in a movie and incinerates Sadie. After Booth is taken to the hospital to treat his injuries, Sebring engages Dalton in conversation outside and Dalton receives an invitation to have a drink with Tate and her friends at her house, which he accepts.

Cast

Character background

Fictional characters

Rick Dalton is an actor who starred in the television Western series Bounty Law, based on Wanted Dead or Alive, which starred Steve McQueen.[12] Dalton's relationship with Cliff Booth is based on Burt Reynolds' and his longtime stunt double Hal Needham.[13] Dalton was inspired by actors whose careers began in Classical Hollywood, but faltered in the 1960s, like Ty Hardin who went from starring in a successful TV Western to making Spaghetti Westerns. Also by Ralph Meeker.[14][15][16][17] Though not mentioned in the film, Dalton suffers from undiagnosed bipolar disorder, inspired by Pete Duel.[18]

Cliff Booth, Dalton's stunt double and best friend, is a World War II veteran, Green Beret, and "one of deadliest guys alive."[19][20]Quentin Tarantino and Brad Pitt modeled Booth after Tom Laughlin's portrayal of Billy Jack.[21] Booth is inspired by Gary Kent, a stuntman for a film made on Spahn Ranch while the Manson Family lived there,[22] and Gene LeBell, who worked on The Green Hornet after complaints by other stuntmen that Bruce Lee was "kicking the shit out of the stuntmen."[23]

Trudi Fraser, the precocious child actor working on Lancer, is inspired by an actual character from that series.[24] Marvin Schwarzs is Dalton's agent. Tarantino wrote the role specifically for Al Pacino.[25] Francesca Capucci, a starlet who marries Rick Dalton, is influenced by 1960s Italian actresses Sophia Loren and Claudia Cardinale.[15][26] Billie Booth is Cliff's wife, whose death echos Natalie Wood's.[15] Some roles, like Zoë Bell's stunt coordinator and Heba Thorisdotter's makeup artist, were portrayed by individuals who performed those jobs for the film.

Historical characters

  • Abigail Folger was an heir to the Folgers coffee fortune and Tate's friend. Wojciech Frykowski was also a friend and Folger's boyfriend.
  • James Stacy and Wayne Maunder were actors who starred on Lancer.[32] Stacy is last shown in the film leaving the show's set on a motorcycle; Stacy was in a motorcycle accident which resulted in the death of his passenger and his losing an arm and a leg. His ex-wife, actress Connie Stevens, also portrayed in the film, organized a fundraiser for his recovery.[33][15] Maunder died during the filming of the movie and Luke Perry, who portrays him, died shortly afterwards. This is Perry's last screen appearance.[34] Luke's son, Jack Perry, appears with him in the film.[35]Sam Wanamaker directed the real pilot of Lancer, in which the Land Pirates were actual characters.[36]
  • Bruce Lee was an actor and martial artist, who starred as Kato on The Green Hornet. He taught Tate martial arts for The Wrecking Crew, and also trained Sebring, Polanski, and McQueen.[30]
  • Mama Cass and Michelle Phillips were members of The Mamas and the Papas. The sheet music for their song "Straight Shooter" was found on the piano at the murder scene inside the Tate/Polanski residence. It is also used in this film's trailer.[37] Polanski had an affair with Phillips while he was married to Sharon Tate.[38]
  • Harvey "Humble Harve" Miller was a Los Angeles radio DJ, who was convicted of killing his wife.[39]

The Manson Family

  • George Spahn was an 80-year-old nearly blind man who rented his ranch out for Westerns. The Manson Family lived on the ranch. Burt Reynolds was cast, but died before filming.[44][45] Reynolds did a rehearsal and script reading, his last performance. After reading the script and learning that Pitt would be portraying Booth, Reynolds told Tarantino, "You gotta have somebody say, 'You're pretty for a stunt guy'". The line appears in the movie, but is spoken to Booth by Bruce Lee.[46]
  • "Pussycat" is a composite character, with her nickname based on Kathryn Lutesinger's, "Kitty Kat", yet modeled after Ruth Ann Moorehouse. Manson frequently sent Moorehouse into the city to lure men with money back to Spahn Ranch.[48] Lutesinger met Manson through her boyfriend, Bobby Beausoleil.[49] There is someone only called Pussycat in The Family by Ed Sanders. According to those interviewed, Pussycat underwent an exorcism with Manson present. The real identity of Pussycat is never revealed.[50]
  • "Squeaky" was Lynette Fromme's nickname, given to her by Spahn because of the sound she made when he touched her.[51] She was Spahn's main caretaker, tending to his needs, sexual or otherwise.[48].
  • "Straight Satan David" is a member of the Straight Satans Motorcycle Club, associates of the Family, who acted as their security.[47]
  • Bill "Sweet William Tumbleweed" Fritsch was a member of the Hells Angels and Diggers, and Manson Family associate.[]
  • Connie is a horseback riding customer on Spahn Ranch. As one way of earning their keep, the Family gave horseback riding tours to people visiting the ranch.[48]
  • Sean Baker, Daniel Callister, Sami Henry, Tea Jo, Riley Lucente, Harold Smith, Sarah May Sommers, and Zack Whyel also play members of the Manson Family.
  • "Tex" was Charles Watson's nickname. Spahn gave it to him because of his Texas accent.
  • "Flower Child" was not the nickname of any member. However, the character in the film is Linda Kasabian, as she was the fourth member to go to Tate's house.[48]
  • "Snake" was Dianne Lake's nickname. Lake rolled around on the grass pretending to be a snake. She told others, and Manson gave her the nickname.
  • "Blue" was Sandra Good's nickname. Manson told her, "Woman, you're earth. I'm naming you Blue. Fix the air and the water. It's your job".
  • "Gypsy" was Catherine Share's nickname, which she gave herself after meeting a man named Gypsy, who she shared a birthday with and thought was her cosmic twin.[51]
  • Catherine Gillies was nicknamed "Capistrano" by Spahn, but called "Cappy" for short.[47] In the film, her name is "Happy Cappy". Gillies died during the film's production.
  • "Tophat" was an alias of Bobby Beausoleil. In his book, Turn Off Your Mind, Gary Lachman mentions that, "Beausoleil had a style; a top hat that set him apart from the usual hippie fare".[52] Beausoleil wrote, "I spied a felt top hat in the window of a... shop... I couldn't afford (it)... but it felt like it had been made for me... I couldn't resist the temptation to buy it". He says that as soon as he put it on ideas floating in his head came together.[53]
  • The character of "Sundance" was named by Cassidy Hice, the actress who portrays her. She wrote, "I was asked to name my character by Quentin himself".[54]

Production

Writing

The work that would become the screenplay for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was developed slowly over several years by Tarantino. While he knew he wanted the work to be titled Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, evoking the idea of a fairy tale set in 1960s Hollywood, he publicly referred to the project as Magnum Opus.[55] The life of the work for the first five years was as a novel,[55] which Tarantino considered to be an exploratory approach to the story he wanted to tell, not yet having decided if it would be a screenplay. Tarantino tried other writing approaches: the early scene between DiCaprio's Dalton and Pacino's Marvin Schwarz was originally written as a one-act play as part of this exploratory work.[56]

Tarantino discovered the centerpiece for the work in 2009 while filming a movie with an actor that had the same stunt double for 20 years. Even though there was nothing but a small bit for the stuntman to do, Tarantino was asked to use him, and he agreed. The relationship fascinated Tarantino and inspired him to make a film about Hollywood.[16] Tarantino said that while the stuntman may have been a perfect double for the actor years earlier, at the time he had come to meet them, "this was maybe the last or second-to-last thing they'd be doing together".[56]

Tarantino first created Cliff Booth, giving him a massive backstory. Then, the actor Booth was the stunt double for Rick Dalton. Tarantino decided to have them be Sharon Tate's next door neighbors in 1969. The first plot point he developed was the ending, then moved backwards from there, this being the first time Tarantino had worked this way. He thought of doing an Elmore Leonard-type story, but realized he was confident enough in his characters to let them drive the film and let it be a day in the life of Booth, Dalton, and Tate. He would use sequences from Dalton's films for the action, inspired by Richard Rush's The Stunt Man, which used the scenes from the WWI movie they were making within the film as the action.[57] Further, to get his mind into the Dalton character, Tarantino wrote out five hypothetical episodes of the fictional television show Bounty Law which Dalton had starred in, having become fascinated with the amount of story writting into western shows of the 1950s. Tarantino has expressed interest in turning these five scripts, as well as ideas for three more, into an actual Bounty Law television series in the future.[58]

Pre-production

On July 11, 2017, it was announced that Quentin Tarantino's next film would be about the Manson Family murders. Harvey and Bob Weinstein would be involved, but it was not known whether The Weinstein Company would distribute the film, as Tarantino sought to cast before sending out a package to studios. Tarantino approached Brad Pitt and Jennifer Lawrence to star in the film. It was reported that Margot Robbie was being considered for Sharon Tate.[59]Samuel L. Jackson was in talks for a major role, and Pitt was in talks for the detective investigating the murders.[60]

After the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations, Tarantino cut ties with Weinstein and sought a new distributor, after having worked with Weinstein for his entire career. At this point, Leonardo DiCaprio was revealed to be among a short list of actors Tarantino was considering for the film.[61] A short time later, reports circulated that studios were bidding for the film set in Los Angeles in the late 1960s, that Tom Cruise was in talks for one of the leads, and that David Heyman had joined as a producer, along with Tarantino and Shannon McIntosh.[62]

On November 11, 2017, Sony Pictures announced they would distribute the film, beating Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Annapurna Pictures and Lionsgate.[63] Tarantino's demands included a $95 million budget, final cut privilege, "extraordinary creative controls", 25% of first-dollar gross,[64] and the stipulation that the rights revert to him after 10 to 20 years.[64]

Casting

In January 2018, DiCaprio signed on, taking a pay cut to collaborate with Tarantino again.[65][66]Al Pacino was being considered for a role.[67] On February 28, 2018, the film was titled Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with Pitt cast in the role Cruise was also up for.[68] DiCaprio and Pitt were each paid $10 million.[69] In March 2018, Robbie, who had expressed interest in working with Tarantino,[70] signed to co-star as Sharon Tate, while Zoë Bell confirmed she would appear.[71][72][73] In April 2018, Jessica Lange was in talks to play Mary Alice Schwarzs, but dropped out and Brenda Vaccaro replaced her. In May 2018, Burt Reynolds, Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, and Michael Madsen joined the cast.[74]Timothy Olyphant was also cast.[75] In June 2018, Damian Lewis, Luke Perry, Emile Hirsch, Dakota Fanning, Clifton Collins Jr., Keith Jefferson, Nicholas Hammond, Pacino, and Scoot McNairy joined the cast.[76][77][78]Spencer Garrett, James Remar, Brenda Vaccaro, and Mike Moh were announced in July.[79] In August 2018, Damon Herriman as Charles Manson, and Lena Dunham, Austin Butler, Danny Strong, Rumer Willis, Dreama Walker, and Margaret Qualley were cast.[80][81][82][83]

When casting the leads, Tarantino invited Pitt, DiCaprio, and Robbie to his house to read the only copy of the full script, to prevent leaks. When Butler auditioned, he did not know which character it was for. Tarantino told him it was for a villain or a hero on Lancer, when in fact it was for "Tex" Watson. To prepare for her audition, Maya Hawke practiced with her father, Ethan Hawke. She said the process was unlike any other except maybe auditioning for drama school, and during it they worked on the scene in many different ways, with different combinations of people. Willis auditioned for two roles, neither of which she got, then was offered the part of Joanna Pettet. Sydney Sweeney said everyone she auditioned with did so for the same character, then were told they could do extra credit. Some did artwork, and she wrote a letter in character. Julia Butters says her sitcom American Housewife was on while Tarantino was writing her character, Trudi Fraser. He looked up and said, "Maybe she can try this."[84]

Filming and design

Principal photography began on June 18, 2018, in Los Angeles, California, and wrapped on November 1, 2018.[85][86] Reynolds died in September 2018 before filming any of his scenes; Bruce Dern was cast as George Spahn in his place.[45]

Tarantino's directive was to turn Los Angeles of 2018 into Los Angeles of 1969 without CGI. It required months of collaboration with city planners, business owners, set decorators, and construction crews. While filming at Musso & Frank Grill, the owners brought out the original plates. To film at the Pussycat Theater, production designer Barbara Ling and her team covered the building's LED signage and reattached the theater's iconic logo, rebuilding the letters and neon. Ling said the lettering on every marquee in the film is historically accurate. To restore Larry Edmund's Bookshop, she reproduced the original storefront sign and tracked down period-appropriate merchandise, even recreating book covers. For the Bruin and Fox Village theaters Ling's team restored the theaters, their marquees, and the storefronts around them. Stan's Donuts, across the street from the Bruin got a complete makeover.[87]

For Bounty Law, Ling went for a dusty, dirty, early Deadwood look. Ling's team found one of the last great living Italian artists to do two of the film's posters. Other posters used and the mugs, are part of Tarantino's personal collection. Movie poster artist Steven Chorney created the poster for the film, as a reference to The Mod Squad. He also created the posters for Nebraska Jim, Operation Dyn-O-Mite, Uccidimi Subito Ringo Disse il Gringo, Hell-Fire Texas, and Comanche Uprising, which was reprinted for Dalton's home parking spot. Mad Magazine caricaturist Tom Richmond created the covers of MAD and TV Guide featuring Dalton's Jake Cahill. Spahn Ranch was recreated in detail over about a three-month period. The Playboy Mansion scene was shot at the actual mansion.[88][89][90]

Tarantino told cinematographer Robert Richardson, "I want it to feel retro but I want it to be contemporary." Richardson shot in Kodak 35 millimeter with Panavision cameras and lenses, in order to weave time periods. For Bounty Law they shot in black and white, and brief sequences in Super 8 and 16mm Ektachrome. In the film, Lancer was shot on a retrofitted Western Street backlot at Universal Studios, designed by Ling. Richardson crossed Lancer with Alias Smith and Jones for the retro-future look Tarantino wanted. The way they filmed Lancer was not possible in 1969, but Tarantino wanted his personal touch on it. Richardson said that filming the movie touched him personally, "The film speaks to all of us... We are all fragile beings with a limited time to achieve whatever it is we desire... that at any moment that place will shift... So take stock in life and have the courage to believe in yourself."[91][88]

The exterior of the Van Nuys drive-in scene was filmed at the Paramount Theater since the Van Nuys Theater no longer exists. As the camera rises up over the theater, the shot transitions to a miniature set with toy cars.[92] For some of the driving scenes, Los Angeles freeways were shut down for hours in order to fill them with vintage cars.[93]

Music

Soundtrack

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
Released2019
GenreRock and roll
Quentin Tarantino film soundtrack chronology
The Hateful Eight
(2015)
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (soundtrack)
(2019)

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is also the name of the soundtrack. Pitchfork said the music was "a highlight" and an "oft-disquieting mixtape of golden-age rock'n'roll, radio DJ patter, and period-specific commercials."[94][95]

The soundtrack includes three songs by Paul Revere & the Raiders

Track listing

  1. "Treat Her Right" - Roy Head and the Traits
  2. "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" - Bob Seger System
  3. "Hush" - Deep Purple
  4. "Hector" - The Village Callers
  5. "Son of a Lovin' Man" - Buchanan Brothers
  6. "Paxton Quigley's Had the Course" - Chad & Jeremy
  7. "Hungry" - Paul Revere & the Raiders
  8. "Good Thing" - Paul Revere & the Raiders
  9. "Choo Choo Train" - The Box Tops
  10. "Jenny Take a Ride" - Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels
  11. "Kentucky Woman" - Deep Purple
  12. "The Circle Game" - Buffy Sainte-Marie
  13. "Mrs. Robinson" - Simon & Garfunkel
  14. "Bring a Little Lovin'" - Los Bravos
  15. "Hey Little Girl" - Dee Clark
  16. "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" - Neil Diamond
  17. "Don't Chase Me Around" - Robert Corff
  18. "Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon" (feat. Mark Lindsay) - Paul Revere & the Raiders
  19. "California Dreamin'" - José Feliciano
  20. "Dinamite Jim" - I Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni
  21. "You Keep Me Hangin' On" - Vanilla Fudge
  22. "Miss Lily Langtry" - Maurice Jarre
The Mamas and the Papas, whose female members are portrayed in the film and songs are featured, including a cover by José Feliciano

Charts

Chart (2019) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[96] 14
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[97] 18
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[98] 17
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[99] 98
Czech Albums (?NS IFPI)[100] 35
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[101] 68
French Albums (SNEP)[102] 49
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[103] 18
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)[104] 35
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[105] 13
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[106] 15
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[107] 16

Additional music

Other songs in the film include "The Letter" by Joe Cocker, "Summertime" by Billy Stewart, "Victorville Blues" by The Harley Hatcher Combo, "Ready for Action" by Syd Dale, "Funky Fanfare" by Keith Mansfield, "The House That Jack Built" by Aretha Franklin, "Time for Livin'" by The Association, "I Can't Turn You Loose" by Otis Redding, "Soul Serenade" by Willie Mitchell, "Out of Time" by The Rolling Stones, "Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon)" by The Mamas and the Papas, "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron" by The Royal Guardsmen, "Straight Shooter" by The Mamas and the Papas, also performed by Samantha Robinson as Abigail Folger, and "The Green Door" performed by Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton.[108][109]

Music by Bernard Herrmann created for Torn Curtain is used in the Spahn Ranch scene.[110] Herrman's music from that film included in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is "The Killing", and "The Radiogram". Other music of his used is "The Rocks", and "The Return" (from Have Gun Will Travel). Also used are the themes from Hell River by Vojislav Borisavljevic, Against a Crooked Sky by Alexis de Azevedo, Apocalypse Joe by Bruno Nicolai, and Mannix by Lalo Schifrin. Also, "Paxton Quigley's Had the Course" (from Three in the Attic), "The Bed" by Ennio Morricone (from Danger: Diabolik), "Ecce Homo" (from Sartana Does Not Forgive)and "Mexican Western" (from Any Gun Can Play) by Francesco De Masi, "Cooler" by Elmer Bernstein (from The Great Escape), "Freya Bangs", "Freya", "Karate Dance", and "TV Screen" (from The Wrecking Crew,) "Theme from It's Happening" by Paul Revere and the Raiders, "Dalton Gang Ride Entrance" performed by Tom Slocum, John Bird, and the Cattle Annie Band (from Cattle Annie and Little Britches), the "Batman Theme" (from Batman), the "FBI Theme and Score Cues" (from The FBI), and "Miss Lilly Langtry" and "Judge Roy Bean's Theme" by Maurice Jarre (from The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean).[109]

Release

Tarantino and Robbie at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21, 2019.[111][112] It was released theatrically in the United States on July 26, 2019 by Sony Pictures Releasing under its Columbia Pictures label.[113] The film was originally scheduled for release on August 9 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders.[114]

A teaser trailer was released on March 20, 2019, featuring 1960s music by The Mamas & the Papas ("Straight Shooter") and by Los Bravos ("Bring a Little Lovin'").[115] The official trailer was released on May 21, 2019 featuring the songs "Good Thing" by Paul Revere & The Raiders, and "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show" by Neil Diamond.[116] The studio spent around $110 million marketing the film.[3]

An extended cut of the film featuring four additional scenes was released in theaters on October 25, 2019.[117]

Home media

The film was released on digital and Movies Anywhere on November 22, 2019, and on Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, and DVD on December 10. The 4K version is available as a regular version and collector's edition.[118]

Reception

Box office

As of January 26, 2020, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has grossed $141.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $231.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $373.4 million.[4] By some estimates, the film needed to gross around $250 million worldwide in order to break-even,[119] with others estimating it would need to make $400 million in order to turn a profit.[120]

In the United States and Canada, the film was projected to gross $30-40 million from 3,659 theaters in its opening weekend, with some projections having it as high as $50 million or as low as $25 million.[121][122] The week of its release, Fandango reported the film was the highest pre-seller of any Tarantino film.[123] The film made $16.9 million on its first day, including $5.8 million from Thursday night previews (the highest total of Tarantino's career). It went on to debut to $41.1 million, finishing second behind holdover The Lion King and marking Tarantino's largest opening. Comscore reported that 47% of audience members went to see the film because of who the director was (compared to the typical 7%) and 37% went because of the cast (compared to normally 18%).[3] The film grossed $20 million in its second weekend, representing a "nice" drop of just 51% and finishing third, and then made $11.6 million and $7.6 million the subsequent weekends.[124][125][126] In its fourth weekend the film made $5 million, bringing its running domestic total to $123.1 million, becoming the second-highest of Tarantino's career behind Django Unchained.[127] In its ninth weekend, its global total earnings reached $329.4 million, surpassing Inglourious Basterds to become Tarantino's second highest global grosser behind Django Unchained.[128]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 85% based on 515 reviews, with an average rating of 7.83/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Thrillingly unrestrained yet solidly crafted, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tempers Tarantino's provocative impulses with the clarity of a mature filmmaker's vision."[129]Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 83 out of 100, based on 61 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[130] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave it an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average of 4 out of 5 stars and a 58% "definite recommend."[3]

The Hollywood Reporter said critics had "an overall positive view", some calling it "Tarantino's love letter to '60s L.A.'", praising its cast and setting, while others were "divided on its ending."[131]ReelViews, James Berardinelli awarded the film 3.5 stars out of 4, saying it was "made by a movie-lover for movie-lovers. And even those who don't qualify may still enjoy the hell out of it".[132]RogerEbert.coms Brian Tallerico gave it four out of four stars, calling it "layered and ambitious, the product of a confident filmmaker working with collaborators completely in tune with his vision".[133] The Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper described it as "a brilliant and sometimes outrageously fantastic mash-up of real-life events and characters with pure fiction", giving it full marks.[134] Writing for Variety, Owen Gleiberman called it a "heady engrossing collage of a film--but not, in the end, a masterpiece".[135]Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave it five out of five stars, praising Pitt and DiCaprio's performances and calling it "Tarantino's dazzling LA redemption song".[136] Steve Pond of TheWrap said: "Big, brash, ridiculous, too long, and in the end invigorating, the film is a grand playground for its director to fetishize old pop culture and bring his gleeful perversity to the craft of moviemaking."[137]Peter Travers of Rolling Stone awarded the film 4.5 out of 5 stars, remarking that "All the actors, in roles large and small, bring their A games to the film. Two hours and 40 minutes can feel long for some. I wouldn't change a frame."[138]

Katie Rife of The A.V. Club gave it a B+, calling it Tarantino's "wistful midlife crisis movie".[139]Richard Brody of The New Yorker called it an "obscenely regressive vision of the sixties" that "celebrates white-male stardom (and behind-the-scenes command) at the expense of everyone else".[140] In Little White Lies, Christopher Hooton described it as "occasionally tedious" but "constantly awe-inspiring", noting it did not seem to be a "love letter to Hollywood" but an "obituary for a moment in culture that looks unlikely to ever be resurrected".[141]

Accolades

The film premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Palm Dog Award and was nominated for the Palme d'Or.[142][143] The film received 10 nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Director.[144] It received five nominations at the 77th Golden Globe Awards, winning for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, Best Screenplay for Quentin Tarantino, and Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture for Brad Pitt.[145][146] It received twelve nominations at the 25th Critics' Choice Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Tarantino, Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio, and Best Supporting Actor for Pitt.[147] DiCaprio and Pitt also received nominations at the 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards where it was also nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture.[148] The National Board of Review included the film as one of the top 10 films of the year and awarded Tarantino Best Director and Pitt Best Supporting Actor.[149] The American Film Institute included it as one of the top 10 films of 2019.[150]

Top-ten Lists

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood appeared on many critics' year-end top-ten lists, among them:

Pop culture references

The title is a reference to Once Upon a Time in the West and Once Upon a Time in America, both directed by Sergio Leone.[231]

Archive footage from many films is included in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, including C.C. and Company, Lady in Cement, Three in the Attic, and The Wrecking Crew, in which Sharon Tate appears as Freya Carlson. Three scenes were digitally altered, replacing the original actors with Rick Dalton. One from an episode of The F.B.I., entitled "All the Streets Are Silent," in which Dalton appears as a character originally portrayed by Burt Reynolds. Another from Death on the Run, with Dalton's face imposed over Ty Hardin's. The third is from The Great Escape, with Dalton appearing as Virgil Hilts, the role made famous by Steve McQueen.[232][233][231] For The 14 Fists of McCluskey, a WWII film within the film starring Dalton, footage and music from Hell River is used.[234] Additionally, Martin Abrahams, Brioni Farrell, Victor Freitag, Nancy Kwan, Dean Martin, Hannes Messemer, Gordon Mitchell, Rod Taylor, Burt Ward, and Adam West appear via archive footage and sound.

The 1959 Ford Galaxie driven by the Manson Family is a detailed replica of the car used in the Tate/La Bianca murders. Car coordinator Steven Butcher found the actual car but, after a meeting with Tarantino, they decided using it would be "too creepy."[235]

Mark Lindsey, lead singer of Paul Revere & the Raiders, whose music is featured in the film, once lived at 10050 Cielo Drive, the address of the Tate murders. On the poster of Dalton's film Red Blood Red Skin, inspired by Land Raiders, he appears with Telly Savalas. The posters for the two films are the same, except with Dalton replacing George Maharis. The movie Voytek Frykowski is watching is Teenage Monster, presented by horror host Seymour.[236][233]

Connections to other Tarantino films

Cliff Booth is a reference to Brad Pitt's character in Inglourious Basterds, Aldo Raine, who takes the cover of a stuntman.[231] When Dalton and Booth get back from Italy they walk by the blue mosaic wall in LAX, the same wall that the title character in Tarantino's Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) moves past in the opening credits of that film.[237]

In the film, Lee engages in a fight with Cliff Booth on the set of The Green Hornet.[238][237] The Green Hornet theme song is featured in Tarantino's Kill Bill: Volume 1.[237] The masks worn by the Crazy 88 gang in that film are the same as Lee's mask as Kato in The Green Hornet.[239] The car Booth drives is a 1964 blue Volkswagen Karmann Ghia convertible. It is the same year, color, make and model of the car that Beatrix "the Bride" Kiddo (Uma Thurman) drives in Kill Bill: Volume 2.[240] Similarly, Rick Dalton's 1966 Cadillac de Ville is the same as the car driven by Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) in Reservoir Dogs. It is owned by Madsen.[235]

Tarantino-invented fast food chain Big Kahuna Burger appears on a billboard. The final scene features Rick Dalton in a commercial for fictional Red Apple cigarettes, which appear in many Tarantino films.[231][232][24][240]

Historical accuracy

In a scene, Sharon Tate goes into Larry Edmunds Bookshop and purchases a copy of Tess of the D'Urbervilles. In real life, Tate gave a copy to Roman Polanski shortly before her death. Years later, Polanski directed the film adaptation, Tess, dedicating it to Tate. Dalton mentions he owns his house on advice from "Eddie O'Brien". Tate and Polanski's Yorkie Terrier in the film is named "Dr. Sapirstein", as was Tate's Yorkie in real life, named after the doctor portrayed by Ralph Bellamy in Rosemary's Baby. The carrier she puts the dog in is the same one the real Tate actually owned. The outfit Margot Robbie wears in the Bruin Theater scene is the same one Tate wore in Eye of the Devil.[240]

In the film, Tate goes to see The Wrecking Crew at the Bruin Theater. She convinces the theater's employees that she stars in the movie after they fail to recognize her. Tarantino stated the idea came to him from an experience he had. When True Romance was released, he saw it at the same theater, where he eventually convinced its employees that he wrote the script.[93]

On the set of Batman, for a crossover episode with The Green Hornet, a fight was scripted with Kato losing to Robin (Burt Ward). When Lee received the script, he refused to do it, so it was changed to a draw. When the cameras rolled, Lee stalked Ward until Ward backed away. Lee laughed and told him he was "lucky it is a TV show."[241] In the film, Cliff Booth reminisces about fighting Lee on the set of The Green Hornet; the imaginary fight also ends in a draw. Booth refers to Lee as "Kato".[238]

According to Rudolph Altobelli, who rented the house to Polanski and Tate, in March 1969, Charles Manson showed up looking for Terry Melcher. Polanski's friend Shahrokh Hatami also said he saw Manson enter the grounds. Hatami approached Manson, asking him what he wanted. He told Hatami he was looking for Melcher. Hatami responded the house was the Polanski residence and perhaps Melcher lived in the guest house. Altobelli told Manson that Melcher no longer lived there.[242] This happens in the film, with Sebring in place of Altobelli and Hatami.

On the night of August 8, 1969, Patricia Krenwinkel, Charles Watson, and Susan Atkins broke into Polanski's and Tate's house, leading to the murders of Tate (eight-and-a-half months pregnant), Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, and Abigail Folger. In the film, they go to Tate's house to commit the murders but instead end up breaking into Dalton's house after he interrupts them.[47] Linda Kasabian went along that night as she was the only Family member with a valid driver's license, though she did not murder anyone and stayed outside the whole time. In the film, she also goes along but does not participate.[47] Watson told his victims, "I'm the Devil, and I came to do the Devil's business." In the film, he says it to Cliff Booth.[243] In the film, Atkins convinces the others to seek revenge by killing Rick Dalton, star of a TV western. Since TV taught them to kill, it is fitting they kill the guy from TV, and "My idea is to kill the people who taught us to kill!"[244][245] In real life, Manson Family member Nancy Pitman said: "We are what you have made us. We were brought up on your TV. We were brought up watching Gunsmoke and Have Gun Will Travel."[246]Sandra Good said: "You want to talk about devils and demonic and immorals and evil, go to Hollywood. We don't touch the evil of that world. We don't even skim it."[247]

The next night, the same four, along with Leslie Van Houten, Manson, and Steve Grogan, drove to Leno and Rosemary LaBianca's house, murdering the couple. Afterwards, Manson directed Kasabian to drive to an apartment complex to commit more murders. Once there, Manson left in the car alone, leaving the others to hitchhike back to Spahn Ranch. In the film, it is Kasabian who drives off, deserting others. Watson says they can hitchhike back.[47] Grogan was convicted of the murder of stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea on Spahn Ranch, whom he repeatedly beat with a lead pipe. In the film, Grogan is instead beaten by a stuntman, Booth.[47]

The Manson Family in Hollywood

Charles Manson once approached Steve McQueen with a script he wrote, to get him to produce it. When McQueen turned him down, an altercation happened, in which McQueen broke Manson's nose.[248] On the night of the Tate murders, Jay Sebring invited McQueen over to Tate's house; however, his date wanted to stay in.[249] After the murders, it was reported that police found a Manson Family hit list with McQueen's name.[250]

Bobby Beausoleil was an actor and porn star. He appeared in the documentary film Mondo Hollywood, also featuring Sebring. Catherine Share met Beausoleil on the set of the softcore porn film Ramrodder. Beausoleil introduced Share to Manson.[251] Atkins met Manson in San Francisco, where she had worked as an actress, portraying a vampire on Anton LaVey's Witches Sabbath Club Show.[252] LaVey appeared with Beausoleil in Lucifer Rising,[253] and claimed to have been a consultant on and appeared as the Devil in Polanski's Rosemary's Baby.[254][255]

Portrayals of real-life figures

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee, portrayed in the film by Mike Moh

Although its context is a daydream of Cliff Booth's rather than a "real" event in the narrative, the depiction of Bruce Lee drew criticism. Fans and contemporaries of Lee took issue with his portrayal.[256][257] Lee's daughter, Shannon, stated: "[Lee] was continuously marginalized and treated like kind of a nuisance of a human being by white Hollywood, which is how he's treated in the film by [Tarantino]."[258]Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whom Lee trained and appeared with in Game of Death, stated: "Of course, Tarantino has the artistic right to portray Bruce any way he wants. But to do so in such a sloppy and somewhat racist way is a failure both as an artist and as a human being."[259]

Mike Moh, who played Lee, said he was conflicted at first: "Bruce in my mind was literally a god. ... Bruce didn't always have the most affection for stuntmen; he didn't respect all of them."[260] He stated, "Tarantino loves Bruce Lee; he reveres him."[261] According to Lee's friend and The Green Hornet stuntman Gene LeBell, Lee had a reputation for "kicking the shit out of the stuntmen. They couldn't convince him that he could go easy and it would still look great on film."[23] Lee biographer Matthew Polly stated, "Bruce was very famous for being very considerate of the people below him on film sets, particularly the stuntmen. ... So in this scene, Bruce Lee is essentially calling out a stuntman and getting him fired because he's the big star."[238]

Tarantino responded, saying Lee was "kind of an arrogant guy", and that Lee's widow Linda wrote in Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew that he could beat Muhammad Ali.[257] In 1972, Lee himself stated: "Everybody says I must fight Ali some day. ... Look at my hand. That's a little Chinese hand. He'd kill me."[262]

Sharon Tate

Tarantino gave an early script to a representative of Roman Polanski, Tate's husband, to assure him that "he didn't have anything to worry about". Tarantino stated: "When it comes to Polanski, we're talking about a tragedy that would be unfathomable for most human beings."[263]

Debra Tate, Sharon's sister, initially opposed the film, saying it was exploitative and perpetuated mistruths: "To celebrate the killers and the darkest portion of society as being sexy or acceptable in any way, shape or form is just perpetuating the worst of our society."[264] After Tarantino contacted her and showed her the script, she withdrew opposition, saying: "This movie is not what people would expect it to be when you combine the Tarantino and Manson names." She felt that Tarantino was a "very stand-up guy"; after visiting the set, she was especially impressed with Robbie, and lent her some of Sharon's jewelry to wear in the film.[264]

After the premiere, a journalist mentioned to Tarantino that Robbie had few lines. Tarantino responded: "I reject your hypothesis". Robbie elaborated, "I think the moments on screen show those wonderful sides of [Tate] could be adequately done without speaking."[265][266] Tarantino stated: "I thought it would both be touching and pleasurable and also sad and melancholy to just spend a little time with [Tate], just existing... I wanted you to see Sharon a lot."[267]

The Manson Family

Charles Manson was convicted of the murders of Tate and four others, despite not being present, due mostly to a theory stating he was trying to instigate an apocalyptic race war, in the end leaving only black Muslims and the Manson Family. The black Muslims would eventually look to Manson to lead them. According to some, Manson referred to the race war as Helter Skelter, getting the name from the song of the same name.[47][268]

Musician and filmmaker Boots Riley criticized the film for not portraying Helter Skelter or depicting the Family as white supremacists.[269]

However, according to members of the Family, the murders were not committed to start Helter Skelter but as copycat murders of Gary Hinman, to convince police his killer was still at large. Bobby Beausoleil was in jail, charged with the murder. The Family was attempting to get him released.[270] According to Jay Sebring's protege and business partner Jim Markham, the murders were about a drug deal gone bad, not a race war. He believes Manson was at Tate's house the day before the murders to sell drugs to Sebring and Voytek Frykowski, which resulted in the two beating Manson up.[271] In his interview with Truman Capote, Beausoleil said, "They burned people on dope deals. Sharon Tate and that gang."[272]

Notes

  1. ^ Stylized onscreen as Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood and in promotional materials as Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood

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