MINOR/MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
When one is talking about the greatest filmmakers of all time, Quentin Tarantino will often come up. Ever since he broke onto the scene in 1992 with his directorial debut ‘Reservoir Dogs’, many movie lovers have called him a master in the industry. I will even admit that Quentin Tarantino is one of my favourite writers/directors of all time. Almost every movie he has made has been considered a masterpiece or something close to it. With only eight movies under his belt (plus a few more writing credits), he has created some of the greatest movie moments of all time.
Hey everyone, I’m Andy and today I’m going to countdown the Top 15 Quentin Tarantino Movie Moments. From violent spectacles to intelligent conversations, these are some of the best moments you’ll find in a Quentin Tarantino movie.
Before I start, there are some honourable mentions to give out.
The Bear Jew (Inglourious Basterds): The introduction of Sgt. Donny Donowitz (aka the Bear Jew) is one of Tarantino’s most violent scenes and one of the best character entrances ever.
Bring out the Gimp (Pulp Fiction): Arguably one of the most controversial movie scenes of all time, this disturbing scene of sexual violence is something you won’t be able to take your eyes off.
Burn Me Down (Inglourious Basterds): The moment ‘Inglourious Basterds’ had been building up to over two hours is one of the most satisfying Tarantino scenes. It also confirmed that this was set on an alternate timeline with the brutal slaying of the major Third Reich members.
The Coffee (The Hateful Eight): Tarantino is a master at building suspense and the coffee scene in ‘The Hateful Eight’ is masterfully built through the use of music and the knowledge that main characters are about to die.
Jackie says Goodbye (Jackie Brown): Although he isn’t known for showing intimacy in his movies, this beautiful goodbye between Jackie Brown and Max Cherry is one that may bring a tear to one or both of your eyes.
Overdose (Pulp Fiction): The frantic pace from Vincent Vega and his dealers as they try and bring Mia Wallace back into reality from her overdose, makes this one of the most intense Tarantino scenes ever.
Elle Driver Vs The Bride (Kill Bill): The fight between The Bride and pure evil in human form is one of the best one on one fight scenes I’ve ever seen. The removal of the eyeball is disturbingly satisfying.
Candyland Shootout (Django Unchained): Almost two and a half hours of build up leads to arguably one of the most violent shootouts ever filmed. The amount of blood is beyond ridiculous.
Now, let’s begin! Again, this will contain minor and major spoilers so if you don’t want anything spoiled, just read the titles. You have been warned.
15. The Commode Story (Reservoir Dogs)
To begin, we’re going back to Tarantino’s directorial debut with a scene that marks the start of the final act. After killing Mr Blue, we find out Mr Orange is an undercover cop who is responsible for the heist going wrong. The movie then goes back in time where he is eating with a friend who asks if he used the made-up Commode Story when getting accepted into the heist group. Tarantino proceeds to show Mr Orange learn, practice and eventually re-tell the lengthy story to Mr White, Eddie and Joe. The story is a parallel to his current situation. Mr White, Eddie and Joe are the Sheriffs and German Shepard in the story, who Orange has to act convincingly to avoid getting caught out.
The use of a multilayered story is one of the most brilliant Tarantino moments ever. Orange telling this made-up story about a time he almost got caught with drugs to the people he wants to bring down, while one of the sheriffs in the story is also telling another story is simply brilliant. It’s clever writing and it shows off Tim Roth’s amazing acting abilities.
14. The Watch (Pulp Fiction)
Speaking of amazing monologues, this iconic scene in ‘Pulp Fiction’ shows just how important and memorable a cameo can be. Taking place pretty much in the middle of the movie, the Watch acts as a segway into one of the most important plot devices ever. The flashback starts with a young Butch watching television when a friend of his dead father walks in and starts telling him a story about a watch that has been in Butch’s family for many generations. Christopher Walken’s character proceeds to tell the story of the watch that has been with his grandfathers and father during many wars, including the Vietnam War, which his father was in. He goes into detail about how important this watch was to his father and that he hid it in his ass for years while being a POW. He eventually died and Walken’s character also hid it in his ass with the promise of giving it to Butch if he survived the war. Then he hands it to a young Butch marking the end of the story.
While it may not seem important upon first viewing, the Watch leads to the redemption and humanisation of Butch. It’s also responsible for the death of Vincent Vega, as well as the rape of Marsellus Wallace. It’s an important plot device and the story about it is one of the best monologues of all time.
13. The Chase (Death Proof)
Although it’s considered to be the weakest of Tarantino’s works by the majority of people, ‘Death Proof’ still manages to be one of the most enjoyable action movies of the 21st century. I almost went with the infamous ‘Hold Tight’ scene that occurs halfway through the movie, but instead, I picked the final chase. A chase scene that was all done through practical effects and actress Zoe Bell holding onto the bonnet of a car without safety protection.
When the final group of girls find the same model car from one of their favourite action movies for sale, they decide to test it out. But when one of the girls attempts a stunt involving her laying on the bonnet of the car and holding onto a couple of belts tightened on the windows, the villainous Stuntman Mike decides to torture with them by ramming into the car. It’s an intense action scene as you know there is an actress risking her body (and most likely her life) for the sequence. It’s authentic and one of the best-filmed chase scenes I’ve ever seen.
12. Breakfast (Reservoir Dogs)
The first scene in Tarantino’s filmography is one of the most Tarantino things you’ll ever see. As ‘Reservoir Dogs’ opens, we are placed in a conversation Mr Brown (Quentin Tarantino himself) is having with the rest of the table about the true meaning behind the Madonna song ‘Like a Virgin’. As the camera revolves around the table (a staple Tarantino camera move), we see what everyone else thinks about this conversation and how normal this group of criminals really is. It then goes into a tipping conversation when Mr Pink refuses to tip the waitress and why he doesn’t believe in it.
The almost ten-minute long opening showcases how normal this group of characters are and Tarantino’s witty dialogue. It may not be intense or violent, but this scene is made up of fantastic dialogue and I’m perfectly fine with it.
11. The Bar (Inglourious Basterds)
The first time I ever watched ‘Inglourious Basterds’, I wasn’t able to predict most of what would happen. The Bar scene is a great example of how unpredictable it really is. When Lt. Archie Hicox meets up with the Basterds, he and two others disguise themselves as German officers to meet up with their secret agent Bridgit von Hammersmark in a bar. To their surprise, the bar is full of German soldiers and one Major who doesn’t quite believe they are real German officers. After about twenty minutes of dialogue, Lt. Hicox subtly gives himself away and is forced into an intense Mexican standoff that results in one of the most sudden and violent shootouts of all time.
This scene really caught me off guard during my first viewing as you start to believe that nothing bad will happen. But once Lt. Hicox orders three drinks with three of his fingers (the English way as the Germans do it with different fingers), the Major comes to realise they aren’t German officers and basically tells them that they won’t make it out of the bar alive. The suspense building up throughout the scene will make you gasp for air and once the bullets start flying, you’ll be in shock.
10. The House of Blue Leaves (Kill Bill)
Arguably one of the most well known Tarantino scenes of all time, ‘The House of Blue Leaves’ fight (or massacre as I like to call it) is the director’s best action scene to date. When the Bride tracks down O-Ren Ishii (the first person on her kill list) to a restaurant in Okinawa, the House of Blue Leaves, she has to fight off O-Ren’s yakuza army (including the elite Crazy 88 and her schoolgirl bodyguard Gogo) in order to get to her and claim her first piece of vengeance.
At first, the Bride deals with O-Ren’s personal bodyguards with ease. Once Gogo comes down with one of the most lethal martial arts weapons I’ve ever seen, you start to realise the Bride might be in for one hell of a fight. Then the Crazy 88 comes down and we get one of the bloodiest and most stylish fight scenes ever filmed. I love that it even turns black and white for a decent chunk of the fight and you see all the carnage unfold in a stylish way. It’s an epic and gory set-piece that you’ll never forget.
9. Get in the Trunk (Jackie Brown)
Wait, Chris Tucker was in a Tarantino movie? This is something I’ve heard many people say when I talk about his most underrated movie, ‘Jakie Brown’. Easily one of Tarantino’s funniest scenes (partly due to the amazing chemistry between Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Tucker), ‘Get in the Trunk’ is yet another example of how Tarantino can turn normal dialogue into something special.
After Ordell pays the bail for Beaumont, he tells him he needs him to get in the trunk and hold a shotgun for a “deal he is about to do.” Beaumont doesn’t agree at first as he doesn’t want to get in his dirty trunk and wait in there for what could be a while. This leads to a couple of minutes of solid arguing as Ordell tries to convince him to get in the trunk. After bribing him with chicken and waffles, Beaumont eventually gets in the trunk, not knowing this will be where he dies. It’s comedy gold that delves into something very dark by the end and it’s a Tarantino scene that shows how memorable small scenes and cameos can be.
8. Jack Rabbit Slim’s Twist Contest (Pulp Fiction)
If you’ve read my Top 10 Uses of Music in Film, then you know that I absolutely love this scene. When Vincent is tasked with taking the wife of his boss on a date, they go to 50s style restaurant, Jack Rabbit Slims. While on the “date”, one of the managers announces the commencement of the famous Jack Rabbit Slim’s Twist Contest and asks for the first couple of the evening. Mia puts her hand up to enter herself and Vincent into the contest, which at first he doesn’t want to do. They eventually go up there and start dancing to the Chuck Berry classic, ‘You Never Can Tell’. As they continue to dance, their bodies start to get more and more into it, while their faces remain expressionless.
It’s another Tarantino scene that just comes out of nowhere, yet over time it has become a fan favourite. After an hour of gangsters being violent, injecting drugs into their system and talking in a typical Tarantino style, we get this innocent dance scene. It shows just how human these characters are and for a brief moment, they aren’t criminals. They become just two normal people who love to dance and the rest is history.
7. I Knew Your Boy (The Hateful Eight)
Tarantino’s most recent movie is a great throwback to westerns, isolated thrillers and his directorial debut. One scene in particular which occurs just before the intermission is one of the most disturbing pieces of dialogue Tarantino has ever written. As the group of travellers stuck in Minnie’s Haberdashery have dinner, Major Warren starts to slowly “bond” with General Smithers over their life stories. When the General starts talking about his son who came up to the mountains where they are a few years ago and never returned, Warren mentions that he knew him and the day he died (which happens to be the day he met him). Warren starts telling a story about how the General’s son came up to the mountain to claim the bounty on Warren but ended up being tortured physically and sexually by Warren before eventually dying. It all builds to the first death of the movie as the two then duel with Warren killing the General.
The monologue is lengthy and it’s executed to perfection by Samuel L. Jackson. Although many have found it to be too disturbing for their taste, it still remains one of the best-written pieces of dialogue Tarantino has written. I also love that it ends the first half of the movie with the first main death and after 90 minutes of dialogue and suspense, you could finally breathe peacefully again (even if it was just for a moment).
6. Dinner at Candy Land (Django Unchained)
This is one of the most infamous Tarantino scenes as it involved an on-set injury which ended up playing a major role in the scene. When Calvin Candie discovers that Django and Dr King Schultz are there for Broomhilda instead of one of his prized Mandingo fighters, he feels betrayed and goes back into the dining room with a hammer, saw and a human skull. Calvin proceeds to tell everyone at the table the story of old Ben, a former slave who worked at Candyland all his life and whose skull is now sitting on the table. He then cuts a section of the skull and shows three dimples which he believes everyone has, yet only African Americans have them in an area that allows them to be good slaves. After this, he gets his men to pull their guns on Django and Dr King Schultz and tells them he knows the real reason they are there. After smashing his hand on glass (which was real and cut Leonardo DiCaprio’s hand open), he proceeds to bring Broomhilda into the room and threatens to kill her if they don’t become truthful with him. After Dr King Schultz agrees to pay just for Broomhilda, Calvin settles down and goes to write up the transaction papers.
I could almost classify this as the most violent Tarantino scene as it involved Leonardo DiCaprio slicing his hand open on a glass and proceeding to carry on with the scene. You can see fellow cast members watch in shock as he simply carries on acting like it was meant to be apart of the scene. It gets even more disturbing when he wipes the blood all over actress Kerry Washington’s face, which she cries in disgust as she probably didn’t expect to get covered in DiCaprio’s blood. It’s another expertly crafted scene of suspense that ends in blood and it also shows just how committed some actors are for their roles.
5. The Sicilian (True Romance)
Before you say anything, yes, this isn’t a movie that Tarantino directed. But this is one of the first scripts he wrote and he had the choice of directing this or ‘Reservoir Dogs’. The Sicilian scene, in particular, has to be one of the best written and best-performed movie scenes I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t seen ‘True Romance’, please do, as it’s one of the best crime dramas/romantic movies of all time. After Clarence and Alabama leave Detroit to start a new life, mob boss Vincenzo Coccotti and his men torture and question Clarence’s dad Clifford to get information about where his son went to. Clifford doesn’t want to give up his son and proceeds to insult Coccotti by telling him a story about how Sicilian’s were spawned by African Americans. After a solid few minutes of telling this story and insulting him more and more, Coccotti kills him.
This is a scene that couldn’t work with any other actors as Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken perform this scene to perfection. It seems as though Tarantino wrote it with them in mind, as the chemistry between them is amazing. It’s a great bit a dialogue and many consider it as one of the greatest movie scenes of all time, including myself.
4. Superman (Kill Bill)
Who would’ve thought that a monologue about Superman would be one of Tarantino’s best pieces of dialogue? When I first watched ‘Kill Bill’, I felt as though this particular scene didn’t need to be included. I originally felt as though it was a waste of time and it had nothing to do with the main plot. As I’ve matured over the years, I’ve come to think this is the greatest scene in ‘Kill Bill’.
When Bill injects the Bride with truth serum, he waits for it to work by telling her a story about the mythology of Superman. He goes into detail about how Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent, is a critique of the human race. Clark Kent is weak, unsure of himself and a coward. This is how Superman views the human race. He then thinks of it as a metaphor for the Bride herself, who was born as a natural killer and wanted to marry a normal man to create an alter ego for herself.
This clever monologue shines a light on how the Bride wanted an alter ego to escape this life she was born for. It also shows how intelligent Bill is as he takes a normal superhero and goes in-depth on him and uses him as a metaphor for the Bride. It’s a fantastic piece of dialogue and one that I feel is one of the best of all time.
3. Stuck in the Middle With You (Reservoir Dogs)
Going back to where it all started, the infamous torture scene from ‘Reservoir Dogs’ has to be one of the most entertaining, yet disturbing pieces of film I’ve ever seen. After bringing a cop back to their safehouse, Mr Blue is left alone with the cop and an unconscious Mr Orange. He knows the cop won’t tell him who the rat in the crew is so he decides to torture him. He turns on the radio as he grabs his cut-throat razor and proceeds to torture the cop while dancing and singing along to ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’ by Stealers Wheel.
This is a scene that I already knew about by its reputation before I even saw it. Everyone who knows Quentin Tarantino will have at least heard of this scene as many argue that it’s Tarantino’s best scene. I never knew a torture scene could be so entertaining but then I saw ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and couldn’t believe what I was watching. Michael Madsen is perfect as this likeable psychopath who cuts off an ear and almost burns the cop alive. It may end suddenly with several gunshots but damn it’s one hell of a scene! You’ll also have the song stuck in your head for a long time after.
2. Brett’s Apartment (Pulp Fiction)
Ah yes, if you thought for a second I wasn’t going to include this scene on this list then you were definitely wrong. ‘Brett’s Apartment’ was a turning point in my life as it made me become the movie lover I am today. Watching Jules and Vincent walk into an apartment to get a stolen briefcase back is one of the most famous movie scenes of all time and there are a few reasons for that.
When Jules and Vincent are tasked with getting back their boss’s stolen briefcase from a previous employee named Brett, they prepare for what may turn into a disaster. Once inside the apartment, they get the briefcase back and Jules starts to mentally torture Brett and his fellow roommates. After killing one and injuring Brett, he begins to quote a made-up passage from the bible. One he calls Ezekiel 25:17, which he quotes in its entirety before he and Vincent unload their bullets into Brett. I could go on forever about why this is such an important Tarantino scene and why it’s one of the reasons ‘Pulp Fiction’ is considered one of the greatest movies of all time, but I won’t. Instead, I will tell you that it includes one of the greatest movie monologues of all time and it changed the way I viewed movies forever.
1. The Hidden Jews (Inglourious Basterds)
Once upon a time in Nazi-occupied France, a German Colonel visited a French dairy farm and questioned the father about the possibility of knowing the location of a Jewish family. Although he most likely knew they were hiding the Jewish family, the father proceeded to act like he hadn’t seen the family in a long time. But as the audience discovered the Jewish family was hiding underneath the house and the Colonel known as the Jew Hunter started to suspect the father was hiding them somewhere in the house, the audience started to sweat in suspense as they start to wonder if the Jewish family will be found.
Yes, we are at the number one spot and the spectacular and masterfully suspenseful opening of ‘Inglourious Basterds’ takes the spot. It’s hard not to adore this scene as it’s easily Tarantino’s best written and directed scene of all time. It also happens to include one of the best performances of all time from Christoph Waltz. He absolutely nails the role and Tarantino’s dialogue roles off his tongue as if he was born to work for Tarantino. Even if you’ve already seen the movie before, it still manages to be as suspenseful as ever. It’s a masterfully made scene and one that happens to be Tarantino’s greatest!
There it is, the Top 15 Quentin Tarantino Movie Moments! I hope you enjoyed the list, as it was a great excuse for me to have a Tarantino marathon. As always, if there is a scene that you thought should have made this list, comment below and let me know. Thank you for reading!