Reservoir Dogs: Top 5 Moments

22 years ago today, in the cinematic universe of Quentin Tarantino, five strangers got together to commit the perfect heist (it’s actually six and that’s a goof with the tagline, but the trivia article comes later on), and cinema was never quite the same again. It set tongues wagging all over the world the moment it hit the screens and set festivals on fire, the then unknown filmmaker bagging a nomination for the Grand Prize at Cannes, a FIPRESCI award at Toronto and become part of the Official selection at Cannes.

Be it the famous “ear scene” or the “anti-tipping tirade”, many scenes from Reservoir Dogs have earned themselves a place in cinematic history. Let us kick off the film’s birthday celebrations by remembering some of the biggest and best…

1. The Café Scene


There is a lot to say about this scene. Mr Pink’s anti-tipping tirade is definitely one of the most memorable ones of cinematic history. However that is not what I personally love about this scene. You have to admit, it’s quite a way for the film to announce itself. Remember the opening? On a dark screen, as the opening credits roll we suddenly hear Mr Brown / Tarantino “Let me tell you what Like A Virgin is about. It’s about a girl who digs a guy with a big d.ck.” Before we have a chance to figure out what this has to do with anything, we’re at the table at the diner. The camera spins round and around the table; the conversation goes off on tangents, all the while with Mr Brown trying to explain his “big d.ck” theory. It’s a lovely foreshadowing of the confusion to come. Here’s how it goes…

2. The Banter

Now, I don’t know if putting this in as a “moment” in the film constitutes cheating but writing about the café scene got me thinking about the dialogue in the film as Mr White’s line during this scene, “You shoot me in a dream, you better wake up and apologise” is one of my favourite lines in the film (although this line seems to be partially inspired by a very similar line in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing). QT’s astounding ability to write snappy dialogue has been “discovered” many times over since the release of Reservoir Dogs but there are a few real gems in there too…

3. The Ear Scene

This was one of THE most talked about scenes of its time. It was one of the main reasons, for example, the film wasn’t released to home video in the UK back in the day. It’s rather thought-provoking to think that it seems tame by today’s standards (I mean, if you think the ear-cutting scene is bad, don’t go anywhere near the SAW series). But this doesn’t mean the scene is easy to watch. There is, somewhere, an interview where QT explains with evident glee how his use of the song “Stuck in the Middle With You” is specifically to make us complicit in the violence. We start by toe-tapping to the catchy tune, he explains, Mr Blonde does a little dance, joins in the fun, but then the mood changes. But in QT’s own words, we are now complicit. We enjoyed the music, the funny bit and now we have to take the hard stuff. The finale to this scene, the moment Mr Orange “rises from the dead” and shoots Mr Blonde is by far one of my favourite “shock” moments of Tarantino’s filmography. It is specifically because we are so absorbed in the shock of the poor officer who has been tortured and now is about to be burnt alive that Mr Orange completely slips our minds and is able to come onto the scene with such a bang. It goes a little something like this…

4. The Mexican Standoff.

We didn’t know this back in the day, but QT’s films come with an obligatory Mexican Standoff, every film he has made to date comes with one. It is the apex of the sentimental “old-school” bank robber Mr White’s defence of Mr Orange as he actually goes as far as holding a gun to his bosses’ head. There is, one has to admit, a somewhat tragic element to all of this as we know he is mistaken, he has been mistaken all along and again, we the audience are complicit and know it. This is why the scene is so hard to watch, not just because of the violence but because of our emotional involvement with Mr White, the slightly more old fashioned and “naïve”, if we can call him that, of the Reservoir Dogs – he is an ok guy compared to Joe or Mr Pink – but Mr Orange is, in essence screwing him over. In the tradition of true tragedy however, Mr White will not find this out until too late…

5. Why am I Mr Pink?

This is one of the many comic vignettes in Reservoir Dogs that reminds us that not all in the Tarantino universe is blood and gore. In fact a lot of the fans will testify (and I am one of them) that one of the major attraction of a Tarantino film is the comedy. The scene is brilliant; it is almost something out of Boys Own with the gruff teacher scolding an unruly bunch of schoolboys. It comes around the middle of the “background” sequences towards the end of the film. A very well placed moment of emotional respite before the films’ rather tragic end…

A native of Istanbul, Turkey, Sedef moved to London three years ago to get her MA in Film Studies and never quite got round to going back home. As she once worked in a DVD company and watched films for a living, she started a personal blog (essiespeaks.blogspot.com) as a short answer to being constantly asked “watched anything interesting recently?” and loved blogging so much she just kept typing . She is the biggest Tarantino fan she knows and would be unable to choose a single film of his as a favourite.