5 Movies & Where to Find Them

5 Movies & Where to Find Them
5 Movies & Where to Find Them

If you are a movie fanatic, Quentin Tarantino is a book that is absolutely worth reading speculation in the cinema (Buy it here). On the brilliant video archive Podcast (which you really should listen to), Tarantino downplays the autobiographical nature of the book, which is mostly about his reactions to the films that were seminal for him as a kid in the '70s. But alongside the film analysis, there is plenty of interesting, autobiographical material that comes together in a nostalgic portrayal of a young film buff coming of age. It's hard for many of us not to relate.

With that in mind, Tarantino's formative films are likely different from those of ours who grew up a generation or so later, but every single film he mentions is worth seeking out. Here are five to get you started:

Rolling Thunder (1977)

5 Movies & Where to Find Them
5 Movies & Where to Find Them

Tarantino has never made a secret of his love for this "Revenge-O-Matic," which is the affectionate term he gives to revenge action flicks. He calls rolling thunder the greatest Revenge-O-Matic of all time, and he's right. From a screenplay by Paul Schrader (although Tarantino claims very little of his dialogue made it into the film), director John Flynn and writer Heywood Gould made a film so dark that critics of the day gave it a surprising attacked anger. Due to Tarantino's influence, the film is a lot easier to find today than it was when you scoured video stores in the '80s or '90s. In it William Devane, who kids like me remember from the 80's as a sitcom star and whatnot landing node, plays a former prisoner of war from NAM who returns home after years in captivity to find his wife is dating another man and his son barely remembers him. He's on the verge of freaking out, but when his wife and son are murdered by the Acuna Boys, who grind his hand off with a garbage truck to be safe, he embarks on a brutal vengeance mission. Everyone in this film is top notch, with Devane's intensity being something to behold, while Linda Haynes (as a quasi-love interest) is more real than you'd ever get in a film like this. But a young Tommy Lee Jones leaves the film as Devane's NAM sidekick, helping him wipe out the Acuna Boys in the blood-spattered finale. Tarantino would probably prefer it if you watch it on a grainy VHS or a 35mm print at the New Bev, but I should mention it's also streaming on TubiTV in a nice looking HD print. sorry qt

Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

5 Movies & Where to Find Them
5 Movies & Where to Find Them

I was actually lucky enough to see this one on 35mm at the New Beverly while I was in Los Angeles for work a few weeks ago. It had been at least a decade since I last saw this Clint Eastwood classic, which marked his last collaboration with director Don Siegel. As Tarantino explains in his book, Siegel was the one who took Eastwood out of westerns and made it contemporary Coogan's bluff and dirty harry. Escape from Alcatraz is unique to an Eastwood film in which he plays one of three real Alcatraz inmates who escaped from prison in 1962 and were never heard from again. It's very restrained and unfolds almost like a docudrama. It benefits from Siegel's superb direction and a tight script from Richard Tuggle, who would go on to direct the craziest Eastwood film of all time - Rope. Patrick McGoohan excels as a cruel warden and there are some unforgettable scenes, such as when an elderly inmate cuts off some of his own fingers with a hatchet. This will be streamed on Prime Video and Paramount Plus in the US

Liberation (1972)

So this is probably the most famous film on the list, along with John Boorman liberation widely regarded as a classic. We just did a WTF Happened to This Movie about it, and it remains one of the most disturbing thrillers of the seventies. The tale of four Atalanta businessmen (Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty) far out of their element in rural Georgia, the film has lost none of its shock value in fifty years. Even if you know where this is headed and have heard of the infamous "quiet as a pig" scene, nothing really prepares you to see it. This one is available on Netflix in the US

Vice Squad (1982)

5 Movies & Where to Find Them
5 Movies & Where to Find Them

Tarantino doesn't devote an entire chapter to the 1982s Vice Squadbut he mentions it a lot in the chapter on Paul Schraders hardcore. He considers the film an unofficial sequel, which makes sense. It follows a woman who is a loving suburban mom by day but is a prostitute named Princess by night. Played by the great Season Hubley, she comes into conflict with a murderous pimp named Ramrod, played by Wings Hauser in perhaps the chillest villain performance of the '80s. This is a ghastly, dingy slice of exploitation cinema. Still, it's hugely compelling, and actually contains a line that Eastwood (or one of his writers) might have ripped off for Sudden Impact when the film's cop hero says, "Make my day good" during the climax. You can rent this on iTunes, but be warned - it's HARDCORE. If you're on the sensitive side you might want to skip this, but for those of us who like that sort of thing, it's an uncomfortable little tidbit.

Bullit (1968)

Steven Spielberg, Bullitt, Steve McQueen
5 Movies & Where to Find Them

Given that the movies Tarantino writes about are from the 1960s and 1970s, one name pops up over the book and that's Steve McQueen. He was the biggest action star of his time and a picture of McQueen with his The escape Director Sam Peckinpah graces the cover of the book. One of the most compelling chapters is Tarantino's appreciation of Peter Yates' Bullitt, which remains one of the definitive McQueen films. Steven Spielberg has just signed on for a sequel starring Bradley Cooper as McQueen. While everyone knows about the car chase, QT also cites McQueen's fashion as a huge influence, as movie cops were pretty stuffy at the time. With its hip jackets and sweaters Bullitt is anything but square, and every trendy seventies cop, off Serpico to Starsky & Hutch, McQueen owes gratitude. You can rent this from iTunes or pretty much anywhere else.

And there you have five movies to get you started if you enjoyed reading speculation in the cinema. Let us know in the comments if you enjoyed this list and maybe we'll make another one!

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