• Publication date: August 25, 2010

RESERVOIR DOGS RESERVOIR DOGS

Before Quentin Tarantino became a household name with flicks such as Pulp Fiction ...

Before Quentin Tarantino became a household name with flicks such as Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, he amazed the world of independent film with his debut, Reservoir Dogs. Its use of non-linear storytelling, pop culture references, realistic violence, and no holds barred language would serve as a precursor to Tarantino’s bright future. With just this film under his belt critics had already begun comparing him to greats like Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, and David Lynch. Lawrence Tierney (of Armageddon notoriety) depicts Joe Cabot, a Los Angeles mobster who orchestrated a seemingly fail proof jewelry heist. Realizing that even the strongest men may snitch under police pressure, Cabot hired six anonymous, unrelated thugs to carry out the operation. The thieves, who have never met before, are forbidden to reveal their legal names to one another. Instead, each man is given a color-coded alias: Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Blue (Eddie Bunker), Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), and Mr. White (Harvey Keitel). After getting (vaguely) acquainted with one another while discussing the subliminal meaning of Madonna’s Like a Virgin, the men prepare for the robbery. When the theft finally takes place police arrive on the scene within seconds, causing each man to suspect that the other is an informant. The bandits regroup at their rendezvous point, an abandoned warehouse, and brutally attempt to identify the lone snitch. In doing so Mr. Blonde interrogates and tortures Marvin Nash (Kirk Baltz), an abducted police officer whose subsequent injuries made Reservoir Dogs notorious. Tarantino’s picture was not a commercial success, though it exemplified that great filmmaking did not require a multi-million dollar budget; it also raised the bar for independent works. The movie’s soundtrack, which featured songs by Joe Tex and Stealers Wheel, foreshadowed Quentin’s obsession with 70s music that would manifest itself again in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown. The director’s frequent juxtaposition of upbeat songs (such as Stuck in the Middle With You) alongside incredibly dark scenes would also be repeated in later works.