The Best of Quentin Tarantino: Celebrating the Director’s 50th Birthday with our Favorite Videos

We recent­ly fea­tured a Van­i­ty Fair arti­cle on the mak­ing of Quentin Taran­ti­no’s  Pulp Fic­tion, mark­ing the only semi-believ­able fact that its mak­ing hap­pened 20 years ago. But can you accept that the mak­ing of Taran­ti­no him­self hap­pened 50 years ago? We think of the motor­mouthed, gram­mat­i­cal­ly uncon­cerned, pop-cul­tur­al blender of a film­mak­er as an eter­nal genius ado­les­cent, con­sum­mate­ly skilled and pas­sion­ate but nev­er well served by the rigid struc­tures of tra­di­tion­al edu­ca­tion and craft. His recent releas­es like Inglou­ri­ous Bas­ter­ds and Djan­go Unchained don’t even hint at a cool­ing of the fire with­in. As the man who (for bet­ter or for worse) rep­re­sents the past two decades of cre­ativ­i­ty in Amer­i­can cin­e­ma cross­es the mid­dle-age rubi­con, seem­ing­ly untrou­bled, we ask this: how does Quentin Taran­ti­no do it? To help you find the answer your­self, we’ve round­ed up all of our choic­est pieces of Taran­ti­no-relat­ed mate­r­i­al.

“Every­body, when they talk about you — you get this sense of a kid, ear­ly on, falling in love with movies,” says Char­lie Rose to Taran­ti­no in the 1994 inter­view up top. That love and then some comes through in the con­ver­sa­tion, mak­ing it one of the most com­pelling episodes in the his­to­ry of Rose’s pro­gram. By that point, Pulp Fic­tion, Taran­ti­no’s sec­ond film, had already hit the zeit­geist hard, but watch him giv­ing Jon Stew­art a pre­view of the pic­ture, and you can tell he’d already sensed its com­ing impact. You can read many more details about exact­ly how it came togeth­er in Van­i­ty Fair’s oral his­to­ry of the pro­duc­tion, and might con­sid­er sup­ple­ment­ing it with Taran­ti­no’s (and Sam Raim­i’s) advice on film­mak­ing. And as Taran­ti­no him­self admits, he fuels his projects with deep and direct inspi­ra­tion from his favorite movies, such as the twen­ty he names that have come out since his own career began. More recent­ly, he reflect­ed in depth on his life and work, prompt­ed by Howard Stern, in a 75-minute radio inter­view.

As a born sto­ry­teller, Taran­ti­no knows that every jour­ney, no mat­ter how ulti­mate­ly vic­to­ri­ous, begins some­where. Prefer­ably, it begins some­where hum­ble, which brings us to My Best Friend’s Birth­day (below), the very first movie Taran­ti­no attempt­ed to make back in 1987, five years before his “real” fea­ture debut Reser­voir Dogs. In it, the film­mak­er plays a hap­less young rock­a­bil­ly des­per­ate­ly look­ing for a way to enliv­en his bud­dy’s birth­day. Because a fire claimed all but 36 min­utes of the pic­ture, we’ll nev­er see whether he suc­ceeds. But Taran­ti­no him­self, an aggres­sive col­lec­tor of film prints who owns both a reput­ed­ly aston­ish­ing home the­ater and Los Ange­les’ respect­ed revival house the New Bev­er­ly Cin­e­ma, should have no trou­ble liv­ing it up for the big 5–0. He’s no doubt planned an ambi­tious birth­day screen­ing: I’m think­ing a quin­tu­ple-bill, all genre.

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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