There are a ton of books on Quentin Tarantino. I still remember when Reservoir Dogs first came out, there was literally was an entire shelf at the local B. Dalton dedicated to dissecting this new auteur that was taking the indie film world by storm. Now that Tarantino is a household name bringing something new to the table information-wise about the director is no easy task; but its one the Quentin Tarantino FAQ:Everything Left to Know About the Original Reservoir Dog by Dale Sherman definitely rises to the occasion to meet.
After a brief intro touching on Quentin’s personal life pre-Reservoir Dogs, the book is broken down chronologically by film starting with True Romance and working its way through the director’s filmography to Django Unchained. Interspersed between films you also have various chapter focusing on music and casting and other odds and ends. The book is a dense tome (385 pages) of facts and trivia that will have both noobs and die-hards alike scratching their heads at just how obscure Dale Sherman is willing to go.
Even in this age of Wikipedia, the book does an excellent job at presenting the exhaustive amount of information in a way that will make you want read every chapter to see just what he dug up next.
For each film specific chapter, the film is broken down by production, cast, sequential plot, script to screen differences and “The Back End”, which goes over the release and reaction to the film. My favorite part of each chapter had to be the script to screen differences, since if you’ve read a Tarantino script you know they read like novels themselves. Dale gives you a bullet point list for each film comparing the screen to the written and in the case of the book that was released before Pulp Fiction even includes those discrepancies as well. Like there was originally no Dance Competition in the Jack Rabbit Slims sequence, which would have totally cost the film one of its most iconic moments or also the fact that Marvin was orignally shot in the throat, then the head. This would have totally changed the flow of one of the great comedic moments in the film.
The Quentin Tarantino FAQ definitely reads like book about a film geek, by a film geek. Dale is not afraid to dig deep into the directors influences to better explain why he makes the films he does. Unlike some books by so-called film buffs you can tell Dale knows his stuff as you go through the curated chapters that focus on not just his films but different pieces of just what makes a Quentin Tarantino film, a Quentin Tarantino Film.
Some of my other favorite bits in the Quentin Tarantino FAQ are:
That was my fifteen minutes
This chapter is all about what could have been casting-wise, like George Clooney as Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs or Sid Haig as Marsellus in Pulp Fiction. Some of the stories in this section are almost as fascinating as the casting possibilities themselves.
Product placement in Tarantino’s films
The Tarantino universe much like our own is overwhelmed with name brands and this chapter dissects some of the strange reoccurring names that make their way into his films. Bonus points to Dale for spotlighting Teriyaki Donut, which shows up in both Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown.
The Tarantino Universe
This chapter breaks down where the different films exist in the world Tarantino has created on the screen. They break down into 3 flavors specifically: the Elmore Leonard Universe, the Movie Movie Universe and the Realer Than Real Universe. Here we start to touch on how Tarantino’s version of the MCU works, which characters are stuck in which world and who is related to who.
Tarantino’s Top Twenty Countdown
We all know the music in Tarantino’s films is meticulously curated as every thing else in his films. This list is a great rundown of the 20 best songs that have made their way into his films and their histories. There was also a great BBC radio show called Tarantino’s Jukebox that sadly was only two episodes where Taratino spoke about some of his choices in music and what inspires him also has a avid vinyl collector, that touched on these same themes.
As someone who likes to think they know a thing or two about the director I even found myself being surprised at some of the information presented. The book bills itself as a FAQ and it honestly is just that. I’ve found it’s a great book you cannot only skip around in, but also to pick up and put down when you have a minute or two to kill and want to see what there is about that particular film. I definitely feel like this book is targeted more at the hardcore fan, even though I personally feel like a book like this could easily be written about each of Tarantino’s films. The Quentin Taratino FAQ is an exhaustive love letter by a fan, for one of cinemas greatest fans.
Dale Sherman delievers a book I am proud to not only have on my shelf, but one I will recommend other fans check out at well.