The five movies Quentin Tarantino says shaped ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’
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The five movies Quentin Tarantino says shaped 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'

Upon the release of Quentin Tarantino‘s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, viewers were transported on a nostalgic journey to late 1960s Hollywood. Boasting a stellar cast including Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Margot Robbie, the film intricately intertwined real-life events with fictional narratives. Serving as both a homage to the golden age of filmmaking and a testament to Tarantino’s creative genius, the movie didn’t materialize in isolation. Like all masterful directors, Tarantino drew inspiration from the vast tapestry of cinema’s rich history.

For those intrigued by the mind of Tarantino, the director shared with A.frame five pivotal films that informed the making of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. These films, ranging from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, capture the essence, energy, and aesthetics that resonate throughout Tarantino’s homage to this epoch of Hollywood.

Set against the backdrop of a changing America, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is a tale of two middle-aged couples undergoing emotional awakening and exploration. Delving into themes of love, monogamy, and the evolving definitions of relationships, the film tapped into the zeitgeist of its era and drew Tarantino to the title as an influence.

Up next is the delightful comedy Cactus Flower, which unravels the humorous complications of a man pretending to be married. This charade comes undone when he falls for a woman he’s been casually seeing. The film not only showcased the relationship and gender dynamics of the time but was also a testament to the humour and free spirit that defined the late 1960s cinema.

Perhaps one of the most iconic films of its time, Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider charted the journey of two bikers heading from LA to New Orleans. As they crossed America’s vast landscapes, they encountered various characters embodying disparate elements of America who painted a picture of a country on the brink of cultural revolution. With its portrayal of freedom, rebellion, and the American dream, it’s no surprise that this film was on Tarantino’s radar when crafting his love letter to the 1960s.

Venturing into the realm of westerns, Arizona Raiders followed the story of ex-gang members hired by the Arizona Rangers to locate the remnants of their former gang. The film’s influence on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is evident in the portrayal of DiCaprio’s character; the almost two-dimensional hero Clint in Arizona Raiders can be seen living on in Rick Dalton’s Bounty Law character, Jake Cahill.

Finally, we have Getting Straight, which followed a graduate student’s transition into the 1970s and immersion in the radical philosophical and political shifts that the decade promised. Through Harry Bailey’s (portrayed by Elliot Gould) journey, we explore hardcore activism, academia, and intellectual liberation. Like all the other films on Tarantino’s list, above all else, it perfectly encapsulated an era, making it a valuable source of inspiration for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Five influences on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood:

  • Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (Paul Mazursky, 1969)
  • Cactus Flower (Gene Saks, 1969)
  • Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969)
  • Arizona Raiders (William Witney, 1965)
  • Getting Straight (Richard Rush, 1970)