From Los Feliz to Long Beach, the 1997 classic exposes rot beneath the glamour of Los Angeles
“I remember the first time I got off the plane in LA. I came up to Hollywood, on La Brea or La Cienega, I can’t remember, through the oil fields,” says L.A. Confidential production designer Jeannine Oppewall. “And I thought to myself: ‘What the hell kind of city is this, with oil fields in the middle of it?’”
For Oppewall, who spoke to Curbed LA on the eve of the 1997 neo-noir’s 20th anniversary, the illusory romance of the City of Angels was stripped away in an instant. That’s what the movie does too, puncturing our inflated ideas of Old Hollywood glamour by plumbing the psychological depths of its key characters and (sometimes literally) exposing the rot underneath.
After a long wait, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has finally landed in theaters. Set in 1969 Los Angeles, the primary story features the fictional Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). His career in decline, Dicaprio’s Dalton is thrilled to learn that two of the hottest new stars in Hollywood Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate have moved in next door to him. With the infamous Manson Family murders lurking over the story, Once Upon a Time traverses old school Hollywood on the eve of one of its darkest crimes. This serves as the backdrop for Once Upon a Time, which weaves in fictional characters and real life Hollywood stars into a revisionist history that only Tarantino could pull off—complete with subtle homages to classic cinema, characters, and celebrities. Below, we have a guide to all the characters who appear in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and their real-life counterparts.
Soldier of Orange (Dutch: Soldaat van Oranje, IPA: [sɔlˈdaːt fɑn oˈrɑɲə]) is a 1977 Dutch film directed and co-written by Paul Verhoeven and produced by Rob Houwer, starring Rutger Hauer and Jeroen Krabbé. The film is set around the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II, and shows how individual students have different roles in the war. The story is based on the autobiographical book Soldaat van Oranje by Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema.
In the Hollywood movie industry, a four-quadrant movie is one which appeals to all four major demographic “quadrants” of the moviegoing audience: both male and female, and both over- and under-25s. Films are generally aimed at at least two such quadrants, and most tent-pole films are four-quadrant movies. A film’s budget is often correlated to the number of quadrants the film is expected to reach, and movies are rarely produced if not focused on at least two quadrants.
Although four-quadrant movies are generally family-friendly, this is not a requirement. Some other genres meeting this may be romantic (such as Titanic and Meet the Parents) or horror films (The Exorcist), or be crowd-pleasing in nature, such as high-profile action films or adaptations of popular novels. Four-quadrant movies often have both adult and child protagonists. They are often built on a “high-concept” premise with well-delineated heroes and villains, with emotion, action and danger present in the story.
Furthermore, screenwriting involves more than mere dialogue and plot. The choice between a cut and a camera movement or a close-up and a long shot, for example, may quite often transcend the plot. If the story of Little Red Riding Hood is told with the Wolf in close-up and Little Red Riding Hood in long shot, the director is concerned primarily with the emotional problems of a wolf with a compulsion to eat little girls. If Little Red Riding Hood is in close-up and the Wolf in long shot, the emphasis is shifted to the emotional problems of vestigial virginity in a wicked world. (To cut back and forth between the two characters is to emphasize their conflict; to enclose them within a circular camera movement is to emphasize their complicity.)
Directors, How Personal Can You Get?, Andrew Sarris
Confessions of a Cultist: On the Cinema, 1955-1969
Kitchen sink realism (or kitchen sink drama) is a British cultural movement that developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s in theatre, art, novels, film, and television plays, whose protagonists usually could be described as “angry young men” who were disillusioned with modern society. It used a style of social realism, which depicted the domestic situations of working class Britons, living in cramped rented accommodation and spending their off-hours drinking in grimy pubs, to explore controversial social and political issues ranging from abortion to homelessness. The harsh, realistic style contrasted sharply with the escapism of the previous generation’s so-called “well-made plays”.
List of films
Look Back in Anger (1959)
Room at the Top (1959)
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960)
The Entertainer (1960)
A Taste of Honey (1961)
A Kind of Loving (1962)
The L-Shaped Room (1962)
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)
This Sporting Life (1963)
Billy Liar (1963)
Sparrows Can’t Sing (1963)
The Leather Boys (1964)
This is My Street (1964)
Georgy Girl (1966)
The Family Way (1966)
Poor Cow (1967)
Up the Junction (1968)
Bronco Bullfrog (1969)
Spring and Port Wine (1970)
List of plays
Look Back In Anger (1956)
My Flesh, My Blood (Radio play, 1957)
A Taste Of Honey (1958)
Sparrers Can’t Sing (1960)
Up the Junction (TV play, 1965)
Cathy Come Home (TV play, 1966)
The direction is incisive, but there remains the incontrovertible fact that this is a filmed play that one should have seen on the stage. Failing that however, it is still a magnificent experience to watch Rachel Roberts and Albert Finney reenact on film the union, in George Meredith’s words, of this ever-diverse pair. It is acting at its very highest: anyone who cares a rap about performance penetrating to the essence of humanity owes himself this experience. Watch Finney change from act to act (the movie preserves the act division): he goes from a baffled but still belligerent young husband to a cocky, irresponsible lecher, and thence to a man prematurely old and exhausted but clinging to some illusion of independence. It is not one but three glorious performances rolled into one; I promise you that you have never seen an actor change more drastically without benefit of make-up—bulge out so in one scene, and cave in on himself so utterly in the next. Notice how the eyes go dead, the voice gets blunted, the very outline of the body blurs with defeat. Rachel Roberts is no less superb, but her part has fewer dimensions. Yet how piteously she ages, becomes more thrall to despair, and still preserves a spark of pugnacity, however dulled and enfeebled.
The film simply reeks humanity from every frame or pore: battered, smelly, hopelessly soiled humanity, yet somehow luminescent in its very putrescence.
The goal of the Dogme collective is to purify filmmaking by refusing expensive and spectacular special effects, post-production modifications and other technical gimmicks. The filmmakers concentrate on the story and the actors’ performances. They believe this approach may better engage the audience, as they are not alienated or distracted by overproduction. To this end, Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg produced ten rules to which any Dogme film must conform. These rules, referred to as the “Vow of Chastity,” are as follows:
1 Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in (if a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found).
2 The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. (Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot.)
3 The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted.
4 The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable. (If there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).
5 Optical work and filters are forbidden.
6 The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)
7 Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden. (That is to say that the film takes place here and now.)