Tuesday, November 01, 2005


True Romance features one of the best scenes in film of the 1990s. Dennis Hopper is protecting his son, Clarence, by not telling the mob that Clarence has fled to Hollywood with a suitcase of the Sicilian Mobs cocaine. Christopher Walken is one of the Mob heavies who is about to get medieval on his ass for the information. Hopper knows he is dead either way, so to prevent any further torture and to avoid giving up the information unwillingingly, he taunts the mobster with a vicious string of circumstances around Sicilian heritage. Hopper's body language in the scene, along with Quentin Tarantino's fantastic dialogue make not only one of the pinacle scenes of the 1990s, but also one of the best scenes in the genre, period.

And that sequence is only one of the many, many delights in this film which is an intoxicating blend of The Getaway, Wild at Heart and Reservoir Dogs. Watch it for the sheer bliss of great casting: Besides Walken and Hopper, there are also brilliant cameos from a perpetually stoned out Brad Pitt, future Soprano James Gandolfini, Saul Rubinek, Val Kilmer channelling The King, and mondo creepy Gary Oldman (and a blink and you'll miss him, Samuel L. Jackson), all of whom (except Jackson) get at least one great scene.

The film follows Clarence (Christian Slater giving his career-best performance, even better than what he is perhaps best known for: Heathers) and his ex-prostitute girlfriend (Patricia Arquette). They luck into a suitcase of mob-drugs after Clarence has a showdown with her pimp. This sets into motion a series of chases, schemes and one mother of a mexican stand-off in the living room of a big-shot hollywood producer.

True Romance is also (easily) the best from from director Tony Scott, who has alway sat a bit in his brother Ridley's shadow; certainly in terms of any sort of auteur status (although with the inconsistency of Ridley's later career, that is certainly debatable). While Ridley Scott was making blockbuster cinematic landmarks Alien and Blade Runner, Tony was making TV commercials. He has always been an action director first and a macho one at that. True Romance is sandwiched in between his testosterone-overload-vaguely-homo-erotic-phase of Top Gun and The Last Boy Scout and his current frentitic everything-including-the-kitchen-sink stylistic overload phase of Beat the Devil, Man on Fire and Domino . Romance benefits significnatly from what was Quentin Tarantino's first sold script (the money earned here went on to make Tarantino's directorial debut Reservoir Dogs). Even though the direction style is very much Tony Scott, Tarantino's dialogue and cinematic tastes leave unmissible fingerprints over every inch of film: Blacksploitation, Hong Kong Action, Sonny Chiba, Spaghetti_Western and Elvis references are sprinkled throughout the action in both obvious and subtle ways.

Whether you have seen the film or not, True Romance deserves to be watched! For pure high-octane entertainment, there aren't many films that even come close.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Kurt,
Love your site. Where are you based, and is the KBT open to fans, like me? Please e-mail and let me know!


Adam Lopez
After Dark Film Festival

12:41 a.m.  
Anonymous nilblogette said...

I'm officially done with the Scott brothers. I'll accept TRUE ROMANCE and ALIEN as their contributions to film history and ask them to now kindly step aside.

12:00 p.m.  
Blogger Kurt Halfyard said...

Is this due to Domino and Kingdom of Heaven? Ridley peaked with Alien and Blade Runner, and has been making passable--but never great--films ever since. Tony really has only one good film...True Romance...the rest are too much testosterone, not enough style or substance (...well Tony has never made a film with any real substance...)

12:36 a.m.  
Blogger stark said...

Well, this is my second favourite movie (possibly taking over first place again) of all time so I have to say something. I totally agree with you concerning True Romance being the best Tony Scott has ever made. I don't think I've ever even seen any of his other movies (if I could help it). But that show "Numb3rs" that he executively produces: that's unique, mature, and entertaining. It's a great show.

I'm not sure if the Christopher Walken / Dennis Hopper scene is my favourite, but it's certainly up there with the other great scenes: the final threeway shootout, Sonny Chiba, the father-son reunion, Floyd, the cheesy "I think I'm in love with you" scene, Dick Ritchie's audition... It's filled (and balanced) with classic scenes.

The great thing about this movie is that it excels in almost every area: comedy, action, dialog, characterization, romance, cast, editing, setting, soundtrack... You might find a funnier movie or a more-action packed movie but I can't think of a film that achieves the depth as well as the range of quality to the degree that True Romance does.

Ok. I'm done. For now.

1:46 p.m.  
Blogger phlegmfatale said...

Although Gary Oldman always blows me away with every onion-skin layer of freakiness, my favorite scene is the heavy James Gandolfini messing up honeypot Patricia Arquette. She fights back with ardor that is truly touching. It's sort of a David and Goliath moment, and ever so satisfying when her resourcefulness saves her life. God bless hairspray and cigarette lighters.

8:03 p.m.  
Anonymous Ronald said...

I agree, one of the best scenes,the one with Hopper and Walken
( especially Walken ). I`ve seen the movie twice in a double with "Comrades"( Maggie Cheung), a beautiful LoveStory, and it`s been an experience, so much Love and Drama, amazing...

1:23 a.m.  

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