Reservoir Dogs (1992)

R | 99 mins | Drama | 23 October 1992

Director:

Quentin Tarantino

Producer:

Lawrence Bender

Cinematographer:

Andrzej Sekula

Editor:

Sally Menke

Production Designer:

David Wasco
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HISTORY

Title cards with the names of different characters are interspersed throughout the film to introduce flashbacks. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, writer-director Quentin Tarantino wanted the film to feel like a book, with title cards acting as “chapter headings.” He named Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (1956, see entry) as a source of inspiration.
       Tarantino wrote the script in Oct 1990 while working as a video store clerk in Manhattan Beach, CA. Although he planned to direct Reservoir Dogs himself on a $10,000 budget, his friend, fledgling actor Lawrence Bender, argued the project was too good to be made on such a low budget, as noted in a 2 Feb 1992 LAT article, and asked to send the script to some of his Hollywood contacts, including acting coaches Lily Parker and Peter Floor. Tarantino originally intended to play “Mr. Pink,” and cast Bender as “Nice Guy Eddie,” but when Lily Parker sent the script to Harvey Keitel, Tarantino and Bender’s first choice for “Mr. White,” Keitel signed on to star and the scope of the project changed. Around the same time, Bender made a deal with executive producers Monte Hellman and Richard N. Gladstein, who agreed to finance the film through his LIVE America, Inc. The budget was estimated to be between $1.5 and $3 million.
       Harvey Keitel helped raise money for the production, and personally funded a casting trip to New York City, where Tarantino found Steve Buscemi for the role of Mr. Pink. For “Mr. Blonde,” Keitel suggested Michael Madsen, with whom he had co-starred in 1991’s Thelma & Louise (see entry). As stated in several contemporary ... More Less

Title cards with the names of different characters are interspersed throughout the film to introduce flashbacks. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, writer-director Quentin Tarantino wanted the film to feel like a book, with title cards acting as “chapter headings.” He named Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (1956, see entry) as a source of inspiration.
       Tarantino wrote the script in Oct 1990 while working as a video store clerk in Manhattan Beach, CA. Although he planned to direct Reservoir Dogs himself on a $10,000 budget, his friend, fledgling actor Lawrence Bender, argued the project was too good to be made on such a low budget, as noted in a 2 Feb 1992 LAT article, and asked to send the script to some of his Hollywood contacts, including acting coaches Lily Parker and Peter Floor. Tarantino originally intended to play “Mr. Pink,” and cast Bender as “Nice Guy Eddie,” but when Lily Parker sent the script to Harvey Keitel, Tarantino and Bender’s first choice for “Mr. White,” Keitel signed on to star and the scope of the project changed. Around the same time, Bender made a deal with executive producers Monte Hellman and Richard N. Gladstein, who agreed to finance the film through his LIVE America, Inc. The budget was estimated to be between $1.5 and $3 million.
       Harvey Keitel helped raise money for the production, and personally funded a casting trip to New York City, where Tarantino found Steve Buscemi for the role of Mr. Pink. For “Mr. Blonde,” Keitel suggested Michael Madsen, with whom he had co-starred in 1991’s Thelma & Louise (see entry). As stated in several contemporary sources and production notes, Eddie Bunker, who was cast as “Mr. Blue,” was an ex-convict in real life. Although Christopher Walken was listed as a cast member in the 11 Jan 1991 Screen International, he did not appear in the film.
       Shortly before filming began, Tarantino participated in the Sundance Institute Director’s Workshop and Lab in early Jul 1991. There, he received creative input from veteran directors including Terry Gilliam and Jon Amiel. Two weeks of rehearsals followed.
       Principal photography was initially slated to begin 22 Jul 1991, according to a 12 Jun 1991 DV item, but was delayed one week to 29 Jul 1991. The five-week shoot took place in Los Angeles, CA, where locations included a bathroom in the Park Plaza Hotel, a mortuary at Figueroa Street and 59th Street which doubled as the warehouse rendezvous point, and an embalming room in the same mortuary which stood in for “Mr. Orange’s” apartment. Set decorations included a poster and comic book for a made-up character, “Kamikaze Cowboy,” created by artists Manuel and Daniel Villalovos.
       The end of principal photography was announced in a 10 Sep 1991 DV item, which claimed that Seven Arts would distribute the film through New Line Cinema. However, a 7 Apr 1992 HR news brief reported Miramax Films’ acquisition of North American distribution rights, and announced Reservoir Dogs would be screened in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.
       With Reservoir Dogs still in post-production, a 23 Dec 1991 Var item reported that Tarantino and Lawrence Bender had formed A Band Apart Productions and negotiated a deal with Danny DeVito and Michael Shamberg’s Jersey Films to produce Pulp Fiction (1994, see entry), set to be Tarantino’s first major studio film.
       Reservoir Dogs debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on 18 Jan 1992. There, several screenings generated a lot of buzz, both positive and negative, as many viewers were reported to have walked out during violent scenes.
       As stated in the 12 Oct 1992 LAT, the Los Angeles premiere took place on 8 Oct 1992 at the Hollywood Galaxy Theatre, with an after-party at the Roxbury nightclub.
       Critical reception was mixed. Reviewers consistently praised Tarantino’s directing style, but complained of the film’s violence. A 3 May 1994 DV item noted accusations that Tarantino’s script plagiarized City on Fire, a 1987 Hong Kong film about a “robbery gone awry.” Tarantino dismissed the accusations, but admitted he was a big fan of City on Fire and had a poster of the film at his home.
       Steve Buscemi won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male, and the film received Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best First Feature and Best Director. Reservoir Dogs also won first prize at the Avignon French-American Film Workshop, for which Tarantino received $10,000 of Eastman Kodak film, as noted in a 14 Jul 1992 HR brief.
       Despite modest box-office returns of $2.8 million, as cited in the 12 Oct 2003 South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Reservoir Dogs developed a cult following. Beginning in 1993, the film was screened regularly at midnight showings at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, as noted in the 30 Jan 1994 LAT, and, later, in London, England, according to the 17 Apr 1995 DV. Nearly ten years after the film’s release, collectible, seven-inch dolls modeled after Mr. Pink, Mr. White, Mr. Blonde, and “Mr. Brown,” were created by Mezco Toyz, which licensed the rights from Artisan Entertainment, Inc. The dolls debuted at the New York City Toy Fair, and Musicland retailers ordered the first 30,000 dolls, to be sold for $12-$15. Mezco had plans for more dolls, including the policeman “Marvin Nash” whose ear is cut off. Meanwhile, another toy company, Palisades Marketing LLC, planned to release its own line of Reservoir Dogs dolls later that year, as noted in a 13 Feb 2001 WSJ brief.
       An unauthorized Bollywood version of Reservoir Dogs, titled Kaante, was produced in 2002, according to a 15 Sep 2002 Sunday Times (UK) article.
       On 5 Jul 2000, an article in The Times (London) stated three teenage boys were charged with murdering their peer, fifteen-year-old Michael Moss. The accused claimed the crime was inspired by Reservoir Dogs. The boys allegedly tortured Moss for two hours, in the style of the scene in which Mr. Blonde tortures Marvin Nash, and finally stabbed him to death. One of the defendants admitted to singing “Stuck In The Middle With You,” a song that played over the scene, during the assault.
       A 24 Oct 2012 HR item announced the film, along with Pulp Fiction, would return to theaters for two nights, beginning 4 Dec 2012, to mark its twentieth anniversary. Shortly before the reissue, on 20 Nov 2012, Miramax and Lionsgate released Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection, a home video career retrospective of Tarantino’s films on Blu-ray disc.
       End credits include the following statements: “Special Thanks: Greta Vonsteinbauer, Michelle Satter, Todd Thaler, Tony Safford, Becka Boss, Stephen Sacks, Cathryn James, Laurie Post, Mike Carlon, Alison Howard, Merry Cheers, Kenneth McGregor, Peter Flood, Lilly Parker, Harry Nilsson, Sundance Institute, Terry Gilliam, Ulu Grossbard, Tony Scott, Bill Unger and Stacy Sher”; “Promotional Thanks: Judy Garland & Associates; Quaker Oats; Mr. John Lieberman; NBA Properties, Inc.; Pepsi-Cola”; “Dog Eat Dog logo created by Roger Avary”; “The Kamikaze Cowboy: TM & © 1991, Poster & Collector Comic Books, courtesy of Daniel and Manuel Villalovos. Used with permission. All Rights Reserved; The Thing & The Silver Surfer: TM & © 1991 Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc. Used with permission. All Rights Reserved.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
12 Jun 1991.
---
Daily Variety
10 Sep 1991.
---
Daily Variety
23 Jan 1992
p. 2, 23.
Daily Variety
3 May 1994.
---
Daily Variety
17 Apr 1995.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jan 1992
p. 9, 44.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 1997.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 2012.
---
Los Angeles Times
2 Feb 1992
Calendar, p. 21.
Los Angeles Times
22 Sep 1992.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 Oct 1992
Section E, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
23 Oct 1992
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
30 Jan 1994
Section E, p. 2.
New York Times
23 Oct 1992
Section C, p. 14.
Screen International
11 Jan 1991.
---
Screen International
15 May 1992.
---
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
12 Oct 2003
p. 4.
The Sunday Times (UK)
15 Sep 2002.
---
The Times (London)
5 Jul 2000.
---
Variety
23 Dec 1991.
---
Variety
27 Jan 1992
p. 52.
WSJ
13 Feb 2001
Section B, p. 1.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
LIVE America Inc. presents
A Lawrence Bender Production
In Association with Monte Hellman and Richard N. Gladstein
A Film by Quentin Tarantino
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Background radio dial wrt by
Background radio dial wrt by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d unit dir of photog
Steadicam op
Steadicam 1st asst
Best boy elec
Best boy elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Unit photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Post-prod asst
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter, Innovative Cutting Enterprises
Negative cutter, Innovative Cutting Enterprises
Editorial facilities
Editorial facilities
SET DECORATORS
Leadman
Swing gang
Swing gang
Set const by
Prop master
Asst propmaster
Prop asst
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Set costumer
Asst ward
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus supv for MCA
Asst mus supv
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley mixer
Weddington rec
Weddington rec
Weddington rec
Re-rec mixer
Post-prod sd services
Dolby Stereo consultant
Re-rec in a
Prod sd & communication equip by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Key spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec makeup eff by
Titles & opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair des
Hairdresser
Makeup & hair asst
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Dialect coach
Unit pub
LIVE America public relations
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Prod coord
Asst coord
Casting assoc
Reader
Reader
Extras casting
Extras casting, Star Casting Service
Asst to Richard N. Gladstein
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Equip furnished by
Transportation coord
Transportation consultant
Transportation capt
Driver/Generator op
Driver
Driver
Prod catering by
Craft service
Set medic
Animal handler
Legal services
Legal services
LIVE America legal services
Banking
Completion bond guarantee
Prod insurance
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"Little Green Bag," performed by George Baker Selection, written by Jan Gerbrand Visser and Benjamino Bouwens, published by Screen Gems-EMI Music Publishing Inc. O/B/O EMI Music Publishing Holland B.V., courtesy of Rhino Records/Jerry Ross Productions
"Stuck In The Middle With You," performed by Stealer's Wheel, written by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan, published by Screen Gems-EMI Music Publishing Inc. O/B/O, Deestoke Ltd. & Baby Bun Music Ltd., courtesy of A & M Records
"I Gotcha," written and performed by Joe Tex, published by Tree Publishing Co., Inc., courtesy of Tree Productions
+
SONGS
"Little Green Bag," performed by George Baker Selection, written by Jan Gerbrand Visser and Benjamino Bouwens, published by Screen Gems-EMI Music Publishing Inc. O/B/O EMI Music Publishing Holland B.V., courtesy of Rhino Records/Jerry Ross Productions
"Stuck In The Middle With You," performed by Stealer's Wheel, written by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan, published by Screen Gems-EMI Music Publishing Inc. O/B/O, Deestoke Ltd. & Baby Bun Music Ltd., courtesy of A & M Records
"I Gotcha," written and performed by Joe Tex, published by Tree Publishing Co., Inc., courtesy of Tree Productions
"Fool For Love," written and performed by Sandy Rogers, published by Rattlesnake Writers
"Hooked On A Feeling," performed by Blue Swede, written by Mark James, published by Screen Gems-EMI Music Publishing, Inc., courtesy of EMI Records USA, a division of Capitol Records, Inc., by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
"Coconut," written and performed by Harry Nilsson, published by EMI Blackwood Music, Inc., courtesy of the RCA Record Label of BMG Music
"Harvest Moon," performed by Bedlam, written by Jan Joyce, published by Door Number One Music, administered by Songs of Polygram International Inc., courtesy of MCA Records
"Magic Carpet Ride," performed by Bedlam, written by Rushton Moreve & John Kay, published by Duchess Music Corporation and Kings Road Music, rights administered by MCA Music Publishing, a division of MCA Music Inc., courtesy of MCA Records
"Wes Turned Country," written by Nikki Bernard, courtesy of Ole Georg/Capitol Production Music
"Country's Cool," written by Peter Morris, courtesy of Ole Georg/Capitol Production Music
"It's Country," written by Henrik Nielson, courtesy of Ole Georg/Capitol Production Music.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
23 October 1992
Premiere Information:
Sundance Film Festival screening: 18 January 1992
Los Angeles premiere: 8 October 1992
Los Angeles and New York openings: 23 October 1992
Production Date:
29 July--early September 1991
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® cameras & lenses
Duration(in mins):
99
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31489
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Los Angeles, California, Joe Cabot and his son, “Nice Guy Eddie,” organize a six-man jewelry heist. The six gangsters dress in matching black suits and use the following aliases: “Mr. White,” “Mr. Pink,” “Mr. Orange,” “Mr. Blonde,” “Mr. Brown,” and “Mr. Blue.” On the morning of the heist, the men gather at a diner. Over breakfast, they discuss the meaning of the song “Like A Virgin” by pop singer Madonna. The garrulous Mr. Brown argues the song is about sex with a well-endowed man who makes Madonna feel the same pain she felt when losing her virginity. When it is time to pay the bill, the anxious Mr. Pink claims he never leaves a tip, but the older, wiser Mr. White reprimands him for disrespecting hard-working waitresses. Joe Cabot, who pays the bill, forces Pink to tip, and they leave. Later that day, as they flee the botched heist, Mr. Orange writhes in pain in back of a car driven by Mr. White, who promises his wounded comrade that Joe Cabot will arrange for a doctor. At a warehouse rendezvous point, White lays Orange on the ground, and determines he was shot in the gut. Orange begs White to drop him off at the hospital, promising not to “snitch.” Mr. Pink bursts in, demanding to know what happened back at the jewelry store. He is convinced one of their men is a police informant, because droves of police swarmed the crime scene just one minute after the store alarm was tripped. Pink and White rehash the events of the robbery. White saw Mr. Brown shot dead by police, and recalls that Mr. Blonde began shooting employees when police ... +


In Los Angeles, California, Joe Cabot and his son, “Nice Guy Eddie,” organize a six-man jewelry heist. The six gangsters dress in matching black suits and use the following aliases: “Mr. White,” “Mr. Pink,” “Mr. Orange,” “Mr. Blonde,” “Mr. Brown,” and “Mr. Blue.” On the morning of the heist, the men gather at a diner. Over breakfast, they discuss the meaning of the song “Like A Virgin” by pop singer Madonna. The garrulous Mr. Brown argues the song is about sex with a well-endowed man who makes Madonna feel the same pain she felt when losing her virginity. When it is time to pay the bill, the anxious Mr. Pink claims he never leaves a tip, but the older, wiser Mr. White reprimands him for disrespecting hard-working waitresses. Joe Cabot, who pays the bill, forces Pink to tip, and they leave. Later that day, as they flee the botched heist, Mr. Orange writhes in pain in back of a car driven by Mr. White, who promises his wounded comrade that Joe Cabot will arrange for a doctor. At a warehouse rendezvous point, White lays Orange on the ground, and determines he was shot in the gut. Orange begs White to drop him off at the hospital, promising not to “snitch.” Mr. Pink bursts in, demanding to know what happened back at the jewelry store. He is convinced one of their men is a police informant, because droves of police swarmed the crime scene just one minute after the store alarm was tripped. Pink and White rehash the events of the robbery. White saw Mr. Brown shot dead by police, and recalls that Mr. Blonde began shooting employees when police arrived. Pink corrects him, stating that Blonde started shooting beforehand. He suspects police were waiting outside, even before the alarm was tripped. Mr. White almost reveals his real name, but Pink stops him from sharing any incriminating information. Still reeling from the botched heist, Pink recalls shooting two policemen as he carjacked a getaway car. White also shot policemen. They agree Mr. Blonde should not have shot the jewelry clerks. They suspect he and “Mr. Blue” did not make it out alive. Pink reports he made it out with a bag of diamonds, and stashed them at a secret location. He does not plan to share them with everyone, however, until they determine who the “rat” is. White cannot believe Joe Cabot had anything to do with a set-up. Sometime earlier, Cabot meets with White, whose real name is Larry, to discuss the upcoming heist. He describes it as a difficult two-minute robbery which will take place during business hours, and require six men to steal a shipment of polished diamonds from Israel. Back in the present, Pink suggests hiding out at a motel, but White persuades him to stay until Cabot arrives. Meanwhile, Orange has lost consciousness. Larry worries he might not live, and feels personally responsible for his getting shot. He informs Pink that Orange wanted to be dropped at a hospital. Pink suggests they do it, since Orange does not know any of their personal information and cannot incriminate them. However, White confesses he told Orange his first name and where he is from. Mr. Blonde appears, acting strangely calm. White accuses him of being a “trigger-happy madman.” Blonde defends his actions, arguing that whoever set off the alarm deserved what they got. White and Blonde begin to tussle, but Pink breaks up the fight. Blonde leads them outside to his car, and reveals a policeman tied up in his trunk. He suggests his captive might help them determine the rat. Earlier, Blonde, whose real name is Vic Vega, reunites with Joe Cabot and Nice Guy Eddie shortly after being paroled. Blonde thanks Cabot for sending him care packages in prison and tussles with Nice Guy Eddie, a good friend. Blonde wants to come back to work, and Cabot offers him a job working with five other guys. Back in the present, Pink and White help Blonde beat up his police captive. Nice Guy Eddie arrives. When Pink tells him they were set up, Eddie refuses to believe it. He warns that his father is upset and on his way to the warehouse. Nice Guy Eddie enlists Pink and White to help him move the cars parked outside the warehouse and retrieve the jewels Pink stashed. He leaves Blonde with the policeman and promises to call medical help for Orange. White worries what the psychotic Blonde will do to the policeman when left alone. With only the dying Orange present, Blonde turns on the radio and dances to deejay K-Billy’s “Super Sounds of the Seventies” radio show as he removes a switchblade from his boot and slices off the policeman’s ear. Next, he douses him in gasoline and the policeman howls in pain. Orange revives, grabs his gun, and shoots Blonde dead. He identifies himself as an undercover cop. The mangled policeman, Marvin Nash, recognizes him as Officer Freddy Newandyke from an earlier meeting. Orange instructs Marvin not to move until Joe Cabot shows up. Earlier, Orange rehearses a fake story about a drug deal to tell Joe Cabot when he meets him. At a nightclub, he uses the story to impress Cabot, Nice Guy Eddie, and White, who enlist him to be part of the six-man crew. Cabot gathers the men together, assigns them aliases, and forbids them from sharing personal information. He goes over the plan to rob Karina’s Wholesale Diamonds: Orange will act as lookout, Brown will be the getaway driver, Blonde and Blue will provide “crowd control,” and White and Pink get the diamonds from the manager. Alone in a car together, Orange asks White what he will do if the manager refuses to cooperate, and White calmly explains his intimidation tactics. When the heist is thwarted, Brown is shot dead in the getaway car. White and Orange escape down an alley and steal a woman’s car at gunpoint. The woman shoots Orange in the gut, and he retaliates. White fails to notice when Orange exhibits guilt over shooting the innocent woman. Back in the present, White, Pink, and Nice Guy Eddie return to the warehouse to find Blonde dead. Orange explains that Blonde went crazy and was going to burn the policeman alive, so he shot him. Upset over the death of his friend, Nice Guy Eddie shoots Marvin Nash point-blank. Orange defends himself further by saying Blonde was going to kill everyone and steal the diamonds. Nice Guy Eddie doesn’t believe him. White defends Orange’s integrity, but Nice Guy Eddie stresses that Blonde has always been loyal to him and his father. Joe Cabot arrives, and fingers Orange for setting them up. White refuses to believe Cabot’s accusation that Orange is a police detective. Cabot confirms Mr. Blue was killed, and draws his gun on Orange. White steps in, and points his gun at Cabot. Nice Guy Eddie then points his gun at White. Pink tries to stop them all, but takes cover under a ramp. Simultaneously, everyone shoots and drops to the ground. Pink emerges unscathed, takes the jewels, and flees. Still conscious, White recovers his gun. He reaches for Orange, who is still alive after being shot a second time. As police sirens approach, Orange admits he is, in fact, a policeman. White cries and points his gun at Orange’s face, but police burst in and shoot him before he pulls the trigger. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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