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This violent, bloody, and profanity soaked film was Quentin Tarantino's break-out debut and his first feature-length movie as a director, though he'd had scripts made into feature films before. The premise isn't complicated. It's about a gang of robbers brought together by a minor crime kingpin to pull off a diamond heist. They are all experienced criminals, but they don't know each other, referring to themselves by colors instead of names: Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Orange (TimRoth), Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), Mr. Blue (Edward Bunker) and Mr. Brown (Tarantino), who all wore the same uniform for the heist: a black suit, with a thin black tie, a white shirt, and black Ray Ban sunglasses.
The idea of using colors for names seems to have been borrowed from the classic movie from 1974 The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, where a gang of bad guys hijacking an NYC subway train do the same thing—and one of the bad guys is a violent loose cannon—sound familiar? The bad guys in Pelham also dress alike and have similar glasses, hats, and fake mustaches.
Reservoir Dogs established a lot of what would become Tarantino's signature moves as a director—long unbroken tracking shots, lots of profanity, blood, gunplay, pop culture references, cool dialogue, and lots of cool music. It's also arranged somewhat out of sequence with long flashbacks peppered throughout—a non-linear technique he would employ more in his next film. Another interesting choice from QT: the movie only depicts the events before and immediately after the robbery, never showing the actual crime itself. He lets what happened at the jewelry store be slowly revealed through the dialogue.
This is where the ultra slow-mo walk started and where your opinion about "Stuck in the Middle With You" by Steelers Wheel may have changed forever.
The movie was also one of the first widely popular independent films and soon became a cult classic. It was even named "Greatest Independent Film of all Time" by Empire magazine.
RD made about $2.8 million on a $1.2 million budget in the U.S. and it earned £6.5 million in the UK. It became quite a bit more popular on VHS after the release of Pulp Fiction two years later.
This movie has a particularly funny memory from high school attached to it for me. I took Italian instead of Spanish and during a week with a holiday, our teacher, who was from Italy and didn't see American movies very much, said we wouldn't be doing a lesson the day before our day off and would watch a movie instead.
We begged him to let us bring something in instead of watching Cinema Paradiso or Austin Powers again, the only two tapes in his desk. One kid convinced him to put on the tape he brought, Reservoir Dogs. I guess all the film festival award logos on the VHS case duped him. We made it to the middle of the "Like a Virgin" conversation in the opening diner scene before he leapt up and turned it off. Austin Powers it was...did I mention this was a Catholic school?
Lets take a look at the guns used by the robbers in this cult classic: