Wed, 27 Mar 2013 08:30:00 GMT

Where's Tarantino?

A field guide to spotting ace filmmaker Quentin Tarantino's many cameos


Where's Tarantino? (© Rex Features)

Notwithstanding the onset of spring, National Peanut Month and International Pi Day, March is also a milestone month for Quentin Tarantino as he celebrates his 50th birthday! A big celebration is in order and, being the dutiful entertainment encyclopaedia that we are, a tribute in his honour. But what do we write about this iconic director who's achieved so much and undoubtedly has everything? Hmmm... we know he likes cameos, loves cameos in fact, and so we've compiled a film spotter's guide to all of QT's blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearances (that generally results in a bloody end).

Reservoir Dogs

Character: Mr. Brown
Appears: Less than 1 minute into the very first opening scene.
Death: He gets fatally shot during the team's robbery.

While Tarantino's Mr. Brown is a memorable enough character in Reservoir Dogs -- thanks to his unique perspective on Madonna's "Like a Virgin" -- his appearance is still minimal enough to count as a cameo. In the opening scene, Mr. Brown can be seen discussing the ins and outs of female promiscuity over a diner snack, not long before he's shot in the getaway car to the sound of a Wilhelm scream. Elsewhere in the film, comedian Steven Wright makes his aural appearance as the sounds of the '70s disc jockey, K Billy DJ, who can be heard while Mr. Blonde tortures a cop.

Pulp Fiction

Character: Jimmy Dimmick
Appears: 1 hour and 58 minutes in.
Death:Pulp Fiction is one of the few movies in which Quentin's character survives his own screenwriting.

You'll remember QT's few minutes in Pulp Fiction thanks to his sharp dialogue and refined taste in gourmet coffee as Jimmy Dimmick. Fortunately for Jules and Vincent, Jimmy's house is well placed in Toluca Lake and, since the pair need to urgently dispose of Marvin's body, they turn up at his homestead where Quentin garbles his way through a wordy monologue about his garage not being a morgue and his wife divorcing him. Interestingly, Jimmy Dimmick shares his surname with Reservoir Dogs' Mr. White, a.k.a. Larry Dimmick, which suggests some kind of family tie in the Tarantino universe.

Jackie Brown

Character: Electronic answering machine voice.
Appears: 1 hour and 18 minutes.
Death: This time Quentin escapes an untimely demise by being nothing more than a disembodied voice.

In this movie Easter egg, though QT is never physically present onscreen, he appears when Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) returns home after her arrest to check her answering machine. There Tarantino can be heard transmitting the familiar "You have one message" memo in a robotic monotone. But of course, this wouldn't be a Tarantino film without some inconsequential kill scene featuring a vignette actor. To that grisly end, Chris Tucker makes a cameo as Beaumont Livingston, someone who grows to trust Samuel L. Jackson's psychotic Ordell, only to be silenced by a few well-placed bullets in that signature Tarantino comedy-death style.

Kill Bill, Vol. 1

Character: A masked member of O-Ren's Crazy 88.
Appears: 1 hour and 19 minutes.
Death: Tarantino becomes one of the first of O-Ren's henchmen to be sliced sashimi style by the Bride.

Here's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it performance from QT who quickly succumbs to the Bride's blade (wielded by Uma Thurman) and later can be seen among the pile of Crazy 88 corpses. Elsewhere in this film is another Tarantino hidden motif: As the Bride walks through Tokyo airport at 1 hour and 3 minutes, she passes a billboard advertising Red Apple Cigarettes. These are fictional smokes that can be found in other Tarantino films like Pulp Fiction (Bruce Willis' character requests a pack after his meeting with Marcelus Wallace), From Dusk Till Dawn (there's a pack on the dash of the Gecko brother's car) and Four Rooms (where they're smoked by Tim Roth's Ted the bellhop).

Inglourious Basterds

Character: A Nazi.
Appears: 26 minutes.
Death: His death is already implied as Tarantino's body becomes the first one to be "scalped" onscreen.

As Brad Pitt and his Jewish commandos rampage through World War II Europe, they leave behind a trail of hairless, scalped Nazi bodies, one of which is Tarantino's. But with the director's cameo whereabouts securely locked down, we're still left with the bigger mystery: what's with the misspelled name of this film? Sure it's based on Enzo G. Castellari's 1978 war film, The Inglorious Bastards (Enzo even makes a small cameo in the Tarantino version as well as his own), but when QT was pressed for an explanation for the extra "u" in "inglorious," he flatly told press at the Cannes Film Festival, "I'm never going to explain that."

Django Unchained

Character: A slave transporter.
Appears: 2 hours and 23 minutes.
Death: The dynamite he's carrying is ignited by a Django's gunfire and he promptly explodes.

Tarantino's blood soaked, profanity laden spaghetti Western was laced with cameos from the likes of Jonah Hill, Amber Tamblyn and even original Django actor Franco Nero, who shows up during the first scene at the Candyland plantation and references his 1966 persona in an amusing exchange with 2012's Django, Jamie Foxx. QT's own cameo takes place in the third act as Django is being transported to work for the brutal LeQuint Dickey Mining Company. Here he appears as one of the transporters, but with a convoluted "Australian" accent, which we're sure he adopts because he's unable pull off a Southern drawl.

Grindhouse

Character: Tarantino makes two cameos in the Grindhouse double feature. The first is in Robert Rodriguez's segment, Planet Terror, as a creep rapist and the second is in his self-directed Death Proof as Warren the bartender at the Texas Chili Parlor.
Appears: In Planet Terror at 1 hour and 7 minutes and in Death Proof at 1 hour and 53 minutes.
Death: Because it needn't be a self-directed movie for Tarantino to meet a torturous end, his Planet Terror character is stabbed in each eye before being shot... down there... with Cherry Darling's machine gun leg. He can't even get a break in movies that aren't his.

In this 2007 tribute to '70s flea-pit double bills, Tarantino and his buddy Robert Rodriguez join forces to produce a zombie tale (Planet Terror) and a car-chase story (Death Proof), bookended fictional trailers and ads. Tarantino himself told the Hollywood Reporter that it was "the worst movie I ever made."

Desperado

Character: Tarantino is credited as "Pick-Up Guy" in Robert Rodriguez's 1995 sequel to El Mariachi. This translates to him sharing a long-winded anecdote about peeing on a bar for a quick $500.
Appears: 21 minutes.
Death: An execution-style bullet to the head.

Squeezing almost three and a half minutes of screen time out of one reductive joke, Desperado sees Tarantino's motormouth doing what it does best: executing a superb monologue that has no bearing on the rest of the film (Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs also being primo examples). Clearly he was the perfect choice for this gag-tirade as, even before his casting, Rodriguez had written the "Pick-Up Guy" character with Tarantino in mind.

From Dusk Till Dawn

Character: Schizophrenic criminal Richie Gecko.
Appears: 4 minutes.
Death: Go-go dancer Salma Hayek transforms into a crusty vampire and sucks his blood dry.

Not so much of a cameo as it is a fully fledged role, Tarantino really gets to show off his acting chops (and foot fetish) in Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn. Initially Tarantino was set to direct the movie -- after all he did pen the screenplay -- however, he decided to focus more on writing and acting out his deranged role of Richard Gecko. Its stories like this that giveaway the fact that QT originally wanted to be an actor.

Little Nicky

Character: Deacon, the blind street preacher.
Appears: 15 minutes.
Death: QT is incredibly accident-prone in Little Nicky. Each time he sporadically pops up throughout the film he falls down some subway steps, walks into a lamppost, gets blasted by a fire hydrant and ultimately succumbs to a fiery death.

As a movie already smattered with bizarre cameos from the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Henry Winkler and a satanic Harvey Keitel from Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, it only made sense that QT would join in the revolving door of talent (plus Adam Sandler). Even Marilyn Manson was expected to show up for filming though he bowed out at the last minute due to scheduling conflicts.

Sleep with Me

Character: A random partygoer named Sid.
Appears: 1 hour and 1 minute.
Death: He's lucky this time.

Another classic Tarantino monologue is delivered in Rory Kelly's 1994 rom-com Sleep With Me. Here QT offers his P.O.V. on Top Gun and dissects the relationship between Maverick and Goose... we'll leave it at that. Delivered at his typical 100kmh speed, Tarantino chews on Todd Field's ear about the homoerotic subtext of Top Gun in a way that makes you think, hey, this isn't QT acting, this is just him being his normal self and ranting to someone about everyday pop culture.

Television Bonus: The Golden Girls

Character: Yes, he's a movie man, but at the tender age of 25, an almost famous Tarantino briefly appeared in Betty White's romp in nylon rompers, The Golden Girls. His role? An Elvis impersonator. He's all shook up, mm-mm!
Appears: In the 1988 episode of Sophia's Wedding: Part 1
Death: Are you kidding? The King is still alive.

Back before he was a household name, Tarantino was a no-name Elvis impersonator, sitting back-row-centre at the wedding of Sophia and Max. Despite performing in the 12-man "Elvis ensemble," QT still manages to stick out like a sore thumb as the troupe belts out Don Ho’s Hawaiian Love Chant. On the experience, Tarantino told Playboy: "All the other Elvis impersonators wore Vegas-style jumpsuits. But I wore my own clothes, because I was, like, the Sun Records Elvis. I was the hillbilly cat Elvis. I was the real Elvis; everyone else was Elvis after he sold out."

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