Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Quentin Tarantino, Roger Corman’s #1 Fan

Those of us who write about movies for the A to Z Challenge have got to be grateful to Quentin Tarantino. He fits snugly into today’s “Q” spot, in the same way that he fits snugly into the Roger  Corman world. Not that Tarantino was ever on Roger’s payroll. But he illustrates what can happen when a dedicated Corman fan decides to make B-movies with A-budgets.

When Tarantino was a lad, he’d sneak out of his mother’s house in suburban Torrance, California and head for the seedy Carson Twin Cinema, where he could watch late-night double bills of New World nurse movies and women-in-prison flicks. As a budding exploitation-film  connoisseur, he developed a special preference for Jonathan Kaplan’s Night  Call Nurses, which he has described as “a classic mix of sex, nudity, and political consciousness.” (His fondness for statuesque woman-warrior Pam Grier led him to star her, years later, in Jackie Brown.)

After dropping out of high school, Tarantino wound up with a job at a video store in a South  Bay shopping mall. There he was befriended by a friend of mine, herself a movie buff with a job in the same mall. Since he always seemed hungry, she took him home and fed him pizza. But they didn’t get too close: for one thing, it didn’t seem that he bathed very often.

Tarantino exemplifies one of the upstart filmmakers who moved on to fame and fortune by going the film festival route, rather than toiling in Roger Corman’s vineyards. He made a splash at the Sundance Film Festival with his first effort, the brutal but extremely creative Reservoir Dogs (1992), and the rest is movie history. It’s worth noting that, although he dedicated his film to Roger Corman along with such cinema icons as Chow Yun Fat and Jean-Luc Godard, Tarantino never approached Roger when trying to raise financing. Instead he turned to early Corman protégé Monte Hellman (Two Lane Blacktop), who proved invaluable in showing him where the money could be found. In 1996, a Variety reporter asked Roger Corman, “If a Quentin Tarantino came to you with the script of Reservoir Dogs, and asked you for a million dollars to make it, what would you say?” Corman’s reply: “I’d say I’ll give you $750,000 and you’ll do the film.” Maybe that’s why Tarantino kept his distance.

But he’s never lost his appreciation for Roger’s output. At the 2009 ceremony at which Roger was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with an honorary Oscar, Tarantino made a lively speech, summing up the Corman legacy. He ended with a flourish: “Roger, for everything that you have done for cinema, the Academy thanks you, Hollywood thanks you, independent filmmaking thanks you, but most importantly -- for all the wild, weird, cool, crazy moments you’ve put on the drive-in screens -- the movie-lovers of the planet Earth thank you!”

Spoken like a #1 fan.  (I wonder if he’s seen Misery.)


  1. I'm glad someone did their "Q" for Quentin Tarantino - thanks, Beverly!
    I am a fan of his films, in particular Kill Bill l & 2... I do watch movies I like over and over... these two fall in that category.

    Great post.

  2. Thanks for writing, Jenny. You seem to be an expert on things technical, so I'll ask -- how do you create a live link to your site from this comment field?

    By the way, if you like Kill Bill, and by extension David Carradine, you might be very interested in an earlier post of mine: Like all Corman people, I had some interesting run-ins with David over the years.

    1. Hi Beverly - I replied to your Tweet - did you manage to visit the post I did on HTML coding for link backs?
      Please don't hesitate to let me know if I can be of further help.

      Well I am definitely one to tinker with my computer I am far from an expert - lots of trial and error, and lots of wonderful help from others... hence my desire to pay it forward. :)

      Jenny @ PEARSON REPORT

      PS - I enjoyed the David Carradine story. Thanks for the link!

    2. Jenny, I saw your very nice Tweet just before I left the house yesterday, and today I've been too busy commenting on my students' screenplays to do anything about what you suggest. I'll get to it, I promise. BTW, if you want to write to me at, it would be nice to get your email. Sounds like we have a lot to share with one another.

  3. Tarantino sure is a legendary figure by now in the film industry! I have to admit I haven't seen most of his movies, and haven't really wanted to. But he's good, I'll give him that!

  4. He's a major talent, with audacity to spare, as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of movies past and present. It would be nice to see him try something that doesn't depend so heavily on blood-letting! Thanks for visiting Movieland, Trisha!

  5. I like his films, but I'm annoyed by the man. He's just a little too much of everything in his interviews and behind the scenes footage. But the films are terrific.

  6. I suspect I might not like him in person. But you can't argue with success!