Quentin Tarantino is an astute student of film and an expert on using the cinematic language in his own work to express his thrilling stories visually. On this page we have compiled for you and your viewing pleasure many of his most well known cinematic motifs. From the technical camera flourishes he adds in his scenes to special props that he places throughout his films. All these things let us know we are watching a Tarantino film. They clue us into his unique personal directing style and also show us the kinds of films/pop culture iconography he appreciates most. We hope you enjoy looking through this expansive collection of Tarantino film trademarks!
Camera Angles and Shots
The Trunk & Hood POV Shot
Quentin Tarantino has trademarked the trunk shot camera angle and he's used it in every movie he has directed. He also uses reverse trunk shots with characters being watched from outside the trunk
- In Reservoir Dogs : Mr Brown, Mr Pink and Mr White looking at Marvin Nash.
- In Jackie Brown : Ordell Robbie et Beaumont Livingston. Also reverse trunk shot on Beaumont later in the trunk. Trunk shot when Jackie hides money in her suit.
- In Death Proof : Zoe and Kim looking under the hood of Jasper's 1970 Dodge Challenger.
The Corpse POV
- In Pulp Fiction : When Marsellus wakes up after being hit by Butch's car. Later when Butch hits Maynard.
- In Four Rooms : Chester listens to Ted's monologue.
- In Death Proof : Pam looking at Stuntman Mike. Stunman Mike being hit by Abernathy in the final sequence.
Long Takes & Tracking Shots
These kinds of shots let us follow the characters and spend time with them without cuts/edits. There is a real beauty and daring to these kinds of cinematic sequences
(NEED PHOTOS FOR THESE)
- In Pulp Fiction: Long take: We stay with Vincent and Jules several minutes before they go to meet Brett. There are no cuts here. Tracking shot: Butch gets out of his car and walks through an alleyway to get to his apartment to retrieve his father's gold watch.
- In Jackie Brown: Long take: Ordell puts Beaumont in the trunk of his car and moves the car to a vacant lot where he shoots Beaumont. Tracking shot: Jackie Brown walking through the mall during the final money switch.
- In Kill Bill: Tracking shot: The Bride walks into the HOBL bathroom----->Charlie Brown & the HOBL owner walk up to O-Ren's private room then we join ----->Sofie Fatale who walks from the private room to the bathroom where we rejoin The Bride.
The 360 Shot
As Quentin Tarantino noted, his use of this shot was inspired by Director Brian DePalma who often used the 360 tracking shot to emphasize the feeling of love or togetherness. It can also be used to emphasize confusion as in DePalma's Blow Out (the scene when Jack's tapes are erased) and in QT's Jackie Brown where the camera spins around Jackie. This is actually a trick on the viewer because as we find out, Jackie plans out the entire caper and is merely acting confused
The God's Eye POV
This shot is filmed with the camera directly above the actors. It is used to convey something bigger than the characters is watching them and what they are doing. In other words, a cinematic inner conscious. In Kill Bill, the Gods Eye POV seems to be accompanying The Bride on her justified journey of revenge.
- In Jackie Brown : Jackie Brown hides money in her bag at the airport's toilets.
- In Kill Bill: Volume 1 : 1) The sequence at Vernita Green's kitchen ; 2) The Bride follows Sofie Fatale into the House of Blue Leaves' women's bathroom ; 3) Part of the fight in the House of Blue Leaves is also shot with The God's eye view.
- In Kill Bill: Volume 2 : 1) Budd looking at the money in his trailer. 2) The Bride dunks Elle Driver's head in the toilet in Budd's trailer. 3) The last sequence with The bride crying in the bathroom is also shot in a God's eye view.
The Use of Black and White
QT has had black and white sequences in two of his films. They appear in Kill Bill and Death Proof. These sequences are definitely inspired by his love of the way movies looked in the early days of cinema up to the way it was used in the French New Wave era.
- In Kill Bill: Volume 1 : Chapter 5 - Showdown at House of Blue Leaves. During the big samurai sword fight, the screen changes from color to B&W. It changes back to color when The Bride blinks.
- In Death Proof : Beginning in the second half of the film, the color changes to B&W. We see Stuntman Mike spy on the unknowing girls while Lee is listening to her ipod and Abernathy is sleeping in Kim's car. When Lee drops some change into a Big Red soda machine, color returns to the film.
The Map Shot
Quentin Tarantino has a foot fetish? Nawww. Its gotta be a coincidence that feet play a huge part in his films!
- In Pulp Fiction : Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield are talking about foot massage and Mia Wallace is often barefoot. The cab driver, Esmarelda, does not have shoes on.
- In Four Rooms : Angela is barefoot throughout the fourth installment
- In From Dusk Till Dawn : Ritchie Gecko (Quentin Tarantino) drinks tequila from Santanico Pandemonium's (Salma Hayek) feet
- In Kill Bill: Volume 1 : 1) The Bride tries to move her feet again. 2) We also see Sofie Fatale's feet and The 220.127.116.11's play barefoot at the House of Blue Leaves. 3) O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) is barefoot as she runs to kill Boss Tanaka.
- In Kill Bill: Volume 2 : 1) In the final chapter, at Bill's Hacienda, both Thurman's and Carradine's characters have bare feet. 2) The Bride is barefoot during her battle with Elle Driver in Budd's trailer. 3) Budd is barefoot when he meets Elle Driver.
- In Death Proof : 1) In the opening sequence we see Arlene's and Jungle Julia's feet 2) Stuntman Mike touches Abernathy's feet 3) Shanna and Jungle Julia are both barefoot in the girl's car 4) Arlene is barefoot on the Texas Chili Parlor's porch.
- In Inglourious Basterds : Col. Hans Landa interrogates Bridget Von Hammersmark and checks the shoe on her foot.
Close Ups on Lips
Nothing is more sensual then a beautiful woman's lips...well, maybe their feet
Record Player Close Ups
To give a nod to his favorite way of listening to music, QT uses shots of record players
- In Pulp Fiction : Mia Wallace selects a tune from her jukebox.
The Violent Awakening
- In Pulp Fiction : Mia Wallace violently wakes up after the heroin overdose.
The Mirror Shot
Tarantino characters often speak and look at themselves in a mirror. It literally reflects the intimate moments of being alone
- In Death Proof : Stuntman Mike looks in his car's visor mirror
The Dance Scene
Tarantino dance scenes are (usually) a very joyous time
- In Reservoir Dogs : Mr Blonde dances to Stuck In The Middle With You by Stealer's Wheel
- In Pulp Fiction : Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega dance to You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry for the Jack Rabbit Slim's Twist contest and back home Mia dances to Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon by Urge Overkill
- In Jackie Brown : Simone dances for Louis Gara to Baby Love by The Supremes
- In Death Proof : 1) Jungle Julia first dances when she arrives at the second bar. 2 )Arlene slow dances on The Love You Save (May Be Your Own) by Joe Tex and 3) gives Stuntman Mike a lapdance to Down in Mexico by The Coasters
The Torture Scene
The torture scenes in Tarantino films are what make audiences squirm the most. When these characters are being held hostage it feels like we are too!
- In Reservoir Dogs : Mr Blonde tortures Marvin Nash and cuts his ear off.
- In True Romance : Clarence's father, Clifford Worley, is beaten/tortured by Don Vincenzo Coccotti.
- In Pulp Fiction : Butch Coolidge and Marsellus Wallace are both tortured by Maynard and Zed.
- In Inglourious Basterds : Aldo tortures Bridget Von Hammersmark by sticking his finger in her gunshot wound.
The Bathroom Scene
- In Reservoir Dogs : 1) Mr Orange tells a story in the men's bathroom at the bar. 2) Mr White and Mr Pink smoke in the warehouse's bathroom.
- In Pulp Fiction : 1) Vincent reads in toilets at the coffee shop 2) Vincent is killed in Butch's bathroom. 3) Jules and Vincent clean blood on their clothes in Jimmie's bathroom. 4) Vincent takes a break in Mia's bathroom. 5) Mia is snorting coke in Jack Rabbit Slim's bathroom. 5) "The Fourth Man aka Seinfeld" (Alexis Arquette) hides in the bathroom. 6) Butch and Fabienne are in the motel's bathroom.
- In Jackie Brown : Jackie hides the money in her bag in the airplane bathroom.
- In kill Bill: Volume 1 : The Bride follows Sofie Fatale into the House of Blue Leaves' women's bathroom.
- In Kill Bill: Volume 2 : 1) The Bride dunks Elle Driver's head in the toilet in Budd's trailer. 2) She looks at her stomach in a bathroom. 3) The last sequence is also in a bathroom.
- In Death Proof : Arlene rushes to Jungle Julia's bathroom to take a leak.
The Restaurant & Bar Scene
- In Pulp Fiction : 1) Pumkin and Honey Bunny at the same coffee shop as later Jules and Vincent. 2) Mia and Vincent at the Jack Rabbit Slim's. 3) Marsellus and Butch at a bar.
- In Jackie Brown : 1) Ordell and Louis at a bar. 2) Ordell and Jackie at a bar. 3) Jackie eating with Ray at a restaurant. 4) Jackie eating in the mall with Max. 4) Jackie drinks with Ordell at the mall.
- In Kill Bill: Volume 2 : The Bride drinks with Esteban at an outdoor bar. Budd works in the My Oh My Strip Club.
- In Inglourious Basterds 1) Shoshanna reads a book in a Parisian restaraunt, 2) Goebbels, Frederick Zoller, Shoshanna and Col. Landa talk at a Paris restaraunt. 3) The secret Operation Kino meeting is held at La Louisianne tavern in France.
The Car Scene
- In Reservoir Dogs : 1) Nice Guy Eddie talking on the phone. 2) Nice Guy Eddie driving and talking to Mr White and Mr Pink. 3) Mr White driving Mr Orange bleeding back at the warehouse. (NEEDS PHOTO)
- In Pulp Fiction : 1) Jules and Vincent talking in the car. 2) Butch driving back to the motel.
- In Kill Bill: Volume 2 : 1) The Bride's opening scene. 2) Bill leaving The Bride at the start of her training with Pai Mei.
- In Sin City : Dwight in the car with Jackie Boy. (Tarantino directed scene only).
- In Death Proof : 1) The girls drive to and back from the bar. 2) Pam and Stuntman Mike. 3) The second girls team drives at the store and talk. 4) The car chase scene.
The Mexican Stand-Off
A Mexican Stand-Off is when more than two opponents aim at each other with guns. It was originated in Sergio Leone's classic 1966 spaghetti western The Good The Bad and The Ugly, which is one of QT's favorite films. QT has used it for several of his own films.
- In Pulp Fiction : Vincent Vega vs Yolanda vs Jules Winnfield
- In Inglourious Basterds: Aldo and Willy discuss the term Mexican Standoff while they're in one in La Louisianne tavern.
Don't Be Such a Square
- In Pulp Fiction : Mia does the "Don't be such a square" sign talking to Vincent when they arrive at the Jack Rabbit Slim's
- In Pulp Fiction : The films opens with the definition of pulp. 1. A soft, moist, shapeless mass of matter. 2. A magazine or book containing lurid subject matter and being characteristically on rough, unfinished paper.
- In Grindhouse : In the original US Grindhouse trailer, there is a definition of grindhouse. A theater playing back-to-back films exploiting sex, violence, and other extreme subject matter.
The Black and White Suits
QT has stated that these are his characters' suits of armor.
- In Pulp Fiction : Vincent Vega, Jules Winnfield, Mia Wallace.
- In Jackie Brown : Jackie buys a new black and white suit. Note: The mannequin that Jackie sees the suit on is patterned after Mia Wallace.
- In CSI : Catherine Willows
- In Inglourious Basterds: Donny Donowitz and Omar Ulmer wear black and white tuxedos at the Stolz Der Nation premiere.
- The same 1964 Chevy Malibu is used by Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction and by Chester Rush in Four Rooms. This was Quentin's real life personal car at the time.
Elvis TCB Sunglasses
A homage to one of QT's biggest idols
The samurai sword is a weapon of honor. It shows QT's acknowledgement that there are codes of conduct even in the world of gangsters and killers.
Cases of Goodies
- In True Romance : Clarence accidentally comes into the possession of a suitcase full of mafia owned cocaine.
- In Pulp Fiction : The mysterious "MacGuffin" briefcase owned by Marsellus Wallace, retrieved from Brett by Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield.
- In Kill Bill: Volume 2 : Elle Driver brings money in a suitcase to Budd in return for The Bride's prized Hanzo sword.
Comic Books, Cartoons and Comic Strips
- In Reservoir Dogs : Mr Orange has a poster of The Silver Surfer on his apartment wall. This is an homage to one of QT's favorite films "Breathless" (1983) a remake of the 1959 Jean Luc Godard film. The remake stars Richard Gere as a rockabilly music lovin' rebel who reads The Silver Surfer comics obsessively.
- In True Romance: Clarence works at a comic books store and shows Alabama comics including Spider Man #1.
- In Kill Bill: 1) The waiter at the House of Blue Leaves resembles Charlie Brown from the Peanuts comic strip. (NEEDS PHOTO) 2) The Bride looks like Pigpen from Peanuts comic strip as she walks across the street after she digs herself out of the grave. (NEEDS PHOTO) 3) Bill gives a monologue about Superman.
- In CSI : Nick Stokes is trapped underground alive in a plastic box.
Whats on Television?
- In True Romance : 1) Drexl is watching the 1973 blaxploitation classic The Mack. 2) Clarence and Alabama watch John Woo's A Better Tomorrow II. 3) Floyd watches the sci fi film Freejack.
- In Pulp Fiction : 1) Lance watches Brideless Groom a Three Stooges episode (by Edward Bernds). 2) Butch (as a child) watches a children's show Clutch Cargo. 3) Fabienne watches The Losers aka Nam's Angels a 70s biker-war film directed by Jack Starrett.
- In Jackie Brown : 1) Melanie is watching the film Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974) which starred her father Peter Fonda. 2) In another scene she is watching the 1977 Italian crime film Mad Dog Killer starring Helmut Berger. 3) Ordell and Louis watch the "Chicks Who Love Guns" promotional spot.
- In Kill Bill: Volume 2 : 1) The Bride catches a glimpse of a Roy Rogers western The Golden Stallion while Bill is talking to her. 2) Beatrix and BB watch the 1980 pop samurai film Shogun Assassin. 3) At the end of the movie BB is watching a Heckyl & Jeckyl cartoon.
Who's On The Phone?
- In Pulp Fiction : 1) Vincent calls Lance for help when Mia has an overdose. 2) Butch calls Scotty in Knoxville. (NEEDS PHOTO) 3) Jules calls Marsellus who calls The Wolf to help clean the car.
- In Jackie Brown : 1) Ordell talking to Beaumont. (NEEDS PHOTO) 2) Jackie calling Max.
- In Kill Bill: Volume 1 : 1) Elle Driver calling Bill at the hospital. 2) FLASHBACK: Sofie Fatale talking on her cellphone when The Bride is being beaten up in the chapel.
- In Kill Bill: Volume 2 : Budd calling Elle after he shoots The Bride. Elle Driver calling Bill after Budd dies.
- In Death Proof : 1) Jungle Julia text messages Christian Simonsen on her cellphone at the bar. 2) Abernathy talking to Lee at the store.
To further show the depth of his unique cinematic worlds, QT has created fake brands of items ranging from cigarettes to foods to drinks.
Red Apple Cigarettes
- In Pulp Fiction : 1) Butch orders a pack of Red Apples. 2) Pumpkin also has a pack of Red Apples laying in front of him in the opening scene.
- In Four Rooms : Just before Ted rings Betty, a package of Red Apple cigarettes is visible near the switchboard.
- In Kill Bill: Volume 1 : 1) On the Tokyo billboard advertising we see during a cityscape shot. 2) As The Bride walks through the Japan airport, we can also see a large advertisement for Red Apple cigarettes on the wall featuring none other than Julie Dreyfus who plays Sofie Fatale in the film.
- In Kill Bill: Volume 2 : When The Bride meets with Esteban, a pack of Red Apples can clearly be seen on the table.
Big Kahuna Burger
Thats that Hawaiiian burger joint
- In Four Rooms : There is a Big Kahuna soda next to the package of Red Apple's.
- In Pulp Fiction : Brett and Jules eat a Big Kahuna burger and drink Sprite.
Fruit Brute Cereal
"It's not a fake brand, it was really sold in the 70s" - QT.
One of the real "Monster Brands" of General Mills cereals. The Fruit Brute series was discontinued so QT uses it in his films. Other flavors include: Booberry, Count Chocula and Yummy Mummy.
- In Reservoir Dogs : We can see the cereal in Mr Orange's apartment under the Silver Surfer poster.
Fictional fast food restaraunt which serves a mixture of Japanese food and donuts.
Jack Rabbit Slim's
Fictional 50s/60s pop culture theme restaraunt patterned after real life LA restaraunts like Ed Debevics.
- In Reservoir Dogs : We can hear an advertisement for Jack Rabbit Slim's on K-Billy radio.
- In Pulp Fiction : 1) Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega go to eat at Jack Rabbit Slim's. 2) Butch hears an advertisement on the radio when he is going to retrieve his father's gold watch.
Recurring Characters & Names
The Vega Brothers
Two crazy criminal brothers. Common family traits that Vic and Vincent share: Both like to dance. Neither like authority figures. The Vega name was inspired by singer Suzanne Vega, one of QTs favorite musical artists.
The McGraw Family
Sheriff Earl McGraw is a character played by veteran actor Michael Parks, who appears in From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill and both segments of Grind House, Planet Terror and Death Proof. Michael Parks' real life son James also appears in Kill Bill and Death Proof as Deputy Edger McGraw aka "Son Number 1". Sheriff McGraw's daughter Dr. Dakota McGraw-Block (Marley Shelton) appears in Planet Terror and in Death Proof.
- In Reservoir Dogs : A character Craig Koons appears in the original script of the movie.
- In Pulp Fiction : Captain Koons is played by Christopher Walken.
- In Reservoir Dogs : Nice Guy Eddie says he knows a nurse called Bonnie (unseen).
- In True Romance : A collegue of Alabama is named Bonnie (unseen).
- In Reservoir Dogs : Joe Cabot mentions a female partner of Mr White called Alabama (unseen).
- In True Romance : Patricia Arquette's character is called Alabama.
- In True Romance : One of the Los Angeles policemen's name is Joe.
- In Pulp Fiction : Jimmie Dimmick is the character played by Quentin Tarantino.
- In Pulp Fiction : Butch's opponent is called Floyd Wilson (unseen).
- In True Romance : Two characters are called Floyd, both played by Brad Pitt and Laurence Mason.
- In Reservoir Dogs : Jody McCluskey was a supporting actor in the movie but finally cut in the final cut.
Homage to Quentin's real life boss at Video Archives: Lance Lawson.
- In Pulp Fiction : Marvin is the guy shot and killed by Vincent.
- In Natural Born Killers : Gerald Nash is a cop killed, probably from the same family as Marvin Nash.
- In Reservoir Dogs : A character called Marsellus Spivey was in the original script.
- In Pulp Fiction : Marsellus Wallace is Mia Wallace's husband.
- In Reservoir Dogs : A character called Marsellus Spivey was in the original script.
- Laura Lovelace is the actress playing the waitress in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown. Laura is the sister of QT's first serious girlfriend Grace Lovelace.
- In Reservoir Dogs : Mr Brown delivers a theoretical monologue about Madonna's hit "Like A Virgin".
- In Pulp Fiction : Fabienne says she has a bit of a tummy, like Madonna when she was doing "Lucky Star".
- In Four Rooms : Madonna plays a role in the movie.
- In True Romance : In the original script, Clarence says that the name Alabama Whitman sounds "like a Pam Grier movie".
- In Pulp Fiction : Bonnie's character is inspired by Pam Grier's role in Coffy where she plays a nurse.
- In My Best Friend's Birthday: Clarence Poole (Quentin Tarantino) delivers a monologue on Jailhouse Rock the same one which later showed up in True Romance.
- In True Romance : 1) Clarence talks about Elvis and his film Jailhouse Rock 2) He wears Elvis TCB style sunglasses 3) Val Kilmer plays Elvis.
- In Pulp Fiction: 1) Mia asks Vincent whether he's an Elvis or a Beatles man. 2) Mia later says "An Elvis man should love it" when they arrive at Jackrabbit Slims. 3) Vincent says to Mia "Lets go get a steak", this is a reference to a line Elvis says in Jailhouse Rock. 4) Mia uses an Elvis voice when she and Vincent are about to take part in the Twist Contest.