There is an inherent difficulty writing a trivia piece about such a cult film. The fans especially will comb the universe, both online and offline to imbibe every last piece of information about the film – I would know, having done the same thing myself. Then again, this rather extraordinary little masterpiece comes with such an original back-story that we couldn’t pass up on the some of the most interesting of these facts – especially on its birthday. So here’s a couple of little things you may or may not know about Reservoir Dogs
1. QT’s First Film…
So, one of the things Reservoir Dogs is famous for is being QT’s first film, right? Actually, wrong. QT’s directorial debut was made with a little known black and white number called My Best Friends’s Birthday. The film was originally 70 minutes long but over half of it was lost in a fire and only 36 minutes of the original remain today. The film was shot with the assistance of Craig Harman who would go on to assist QT on Pulp Fiction and fellow video store employee Roger Avery. The story is QT’s attempt at a comedy, telling the story of a man who is trying to do something nice for his friends’ birthday but is foiled at every turn. QT has always said the film was badly directed – but that the work was a great learning experience for him.
And… Here are those golden 36 minutes… It’s quite far from what we got to know as “his” style but you can see glimmers of films to come, including several moments that distinctly foreshadow Pulp Fiction – can you spot them?
2. The Crossover Moment.
Ok, so, it’s a very badly kept “secret” of the cinematic universe that Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and True Romance (written by QT but directed by Tony Scott) are part of a loosely formed trilogy. Confused? OK, so, Mr Blonde – Vic Vega – is the brother of Vincent Vega, John Travolta’s character in Pulp Fiction. In fact as QT revealed some years ago that there had been a film about the Vega Brothers in the works. Now, the connection to True Romance is that it was going to be the precursor to Reservoir Dogs. In the original ending of True Romance, Clarence dies and Alabama is left alone with the money. The idea, it is widely believed, is that she carries on with crime and partners up with Mr White in the process, although Tony Scott decided to give the film a happy ending instead. Still, one little remnant of this original idea survives in the film as an Easter Egg when Joe asks Mr White how Alabama is. Incidentally, it is said that Scott had originally wanted to direct Reservoir Dogs, but QT had that one earmarked for his own debut.
3. Like a Virgin.
The whole discussion about the meaning of Like A Virgin even drew Madonna herself into the discussion. Remember the opening line of the film? “Let me tell you what Like A Virgin is about. It’s about a girl who digs a guy with a big dick.” Madonna finally weighed in on the discussion by sending a signed copy of Erotica to QT with a note saying “It’s not about dick. It’s about love. Madonna”. Well that’s that one cleared up then…
4. Budget Cuts.
Now a big name A-lister, we might find it hard to imagine QT’s projects suffering at the hands of budget cuts. Nevertheless, starting out on the path, he had to make cuts and changes to film just like any other first-time director and this considerably altered the way the film ended up looking. – The film’s budget was so low that the actors had to use their own clothes as wardrobe. The only “additions” were the black suits the designer provided for free for love of the heist genre. Even those, Steve Buscemi wore with his own black jeans. –QT has always said that leaving the heist to the imagination has given the film a truly interesting dynamic. But lack of budget was one of the main reasons we never see the heist. Another scene that was cut, according to actor Edward Bunker, was a scene that would show exactly what happened to his character, Mr Blue. – Mr Blonde’s Cadillac Coup de Ville is Michael Madsen’s own car – the budget didn’t stretch to buying one for the character – Mr Orange’s flat is actually the flat above the warehouse where most of the film takes place. The rooms there had to be redecorated because… You guessed… No money to rent a separate flat.
5. Mr Brown was Mr Pink.
During casting it came out that QT actually wanted to keep the part of Mr Pink for himself. The story goes that when Steve Buscemi expressed interest in the part, QT told him that the only way he would get the part was by nailing the audition… Well we all know who ultimately ended up playing it. Here’s one of my favourite “rehearsal” videos for Reservoir Dogs. The first half is a bit confusing as Steve Buscemi plays Mr White, but the second half is more relevant to the film as we know it, as it has QT as Mr White and Steve Buscemi as a very early version of Mr Pink.