Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Kurt Russell, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Luke Perry, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Release date: 14 August, 2019
Running Time: 159 Minutes
Budget: $95 – 100 million
A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a 2019 black comedy-drama film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Produced by Columbia Pictures and Heyday Films, it is an international co-production between the United States and the United Kingdom. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, alongside Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, and Al Pacino. The film is set in 1960s Los Angeles in an alternate timeline where an aging television actor and his stunt double embark on an odyssey to make a name for themselves in the Hollywood film industry. It features a large ensemble cast who star in “multiple storylines in a modern fairy tale tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age.”
First announced in July 2017, the film is the first of Tarantino’s not to be associated with producer Harvey Weinstein, after Tarantino cut ties with The Weinstein Company following sexual abuse allegations against Weinstein that October. Sony Pictures won the distribution rights, having met several of Tarantino’s demands including final cut privilege. Pitt, DiCaprio, and Robbie, as well as several Tarantino regulars such as Zoë Bell and Kurt Russell, joined the cast between January and June 2018. Principal photography lasted from that June through November around Los Angeles. It is the last film to feature actor Luke Perry, who died in March 2019.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21, 2019, and is scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States on July 26, 2019 and on August 14, 2019 in the United Kingdom. Critics had “an overall positive view” of the film, calling it “Tarantino’s love letter to ’60s L.A.'” and praising its casting choices, “though some are divided on its ending.”
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Movie Plot
In 1969 Los Angeles, actor Rick Dalton, who starred in a black-and-white Western television series called Bounty Law that began in the late ’50s, finds his career is faltering due to ongoing alcoholism issues. Dalton dwindles into a drawling functional binge alongside Cliff Booth, his longtime stunt double and best friend where he laments that his career is over. Booth, by contrast, is a Vietnam war veteran who lives in a derelict trailer next to the Van Nuys Drive-In but seems happy and satisfied. Booth is also rumored to have murdered his wife, and gotten away with it.
While passing the day by, Booth participates in a fists-meets-martial-arts duel on the set of The Green Hornet with Bruce Lee. Later, Dalton, playing a black-hatted villain on a new series called Lancer, gets into a philosophical chat about acting with his 8-year-old costar, a budding feminist and method actress.
Meanwhile Sharon Tate, along with her Polish husband, Roman Polanski, have rented their new home next to Dalton’s on 10050 Cielo Drive. At a Playboy Mansion party, The Great Escape superstar Steve McQueen hangs out with Cass Elliot. McQueen, talking to Dalton, fills in the backstory of Tate, Polanski, and their friend Jay Sebring, a hairdresser who is in love with Tate and, according to McQueen, is hanging around with them to bide his time and wait for Polanski to sabotage his marriage.
After his performance in Lancer receives positive reviews, casting agent Marvin Schwartz offers Dalton the opportunity to shoot a Spaghetti Western in Rome. The prospect fills him with despair; he thinks Spaghetti Westerns are the bottom rung of the entertainment totem pole. Dalton also takes Booth with him, and he spends six months there, making several films while eventually marrying an Italian crew member, Francesca Cappucci.
Back in Los Angeles, while escorting the flirtatious Pussycat to the Spahn Movie Ranch, Booth learns Pussycat is a member of the Manson Family, a cult notorious for stalking and preying on the locals, and that hippie guitarist Charles Manson has established the ranch as a safehouse.
Suspiciously, Booth and Dalton arrive at the ranch where they walk into a murder plot as the Manson Family have kidnapped Tate, Sebring and several other hostages, with the intent to kill them. Dalton, Booth and Lee brutally defeat the Manson Family in a shoot-out / kung-fu showdown. Tate is saved, but Booth dies from fatal injuries sustained in the fight. Despite his career having not amounted to his ambition, Dalton acknowledges that it is the end of the 1960s, and the Hollywood spirit will live on.
On July 11, 2017, it was announced that Quentin Tarantino had written a screenplay for a film about the Manson Family murders, which he would direct as his next project. Harvey and Bob Weinstein would be involved but it was not known whether their studio, The Weinstein Company, would distribute the film as Tarantino sought to cast the film before sending out a package to studios. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Lawrence were revealed to be two names Tarantino had approached to star in the film. On the same day, it was separately reported that Margot Robbie was in talks to potentially portray actress Sharon Tate, Samuel L. Jackson was also in talks to portray a major role, and that Pitt was in talks to portray the detective investigating the murders.
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations, Tarantino severed ties with Weinstein and sought a new distributor, after having worked with Weinstein for his entire career. At this point Leonardo DiCaprio was revealed to be among a short list of actors Tarantino was considering for the film. A short time later, there were reports that the studios were still bidding for the film set in Los Angeles in the late 1960s and early 1970s, that Tom Cruise was also in talks for one of two lead male roles, and David Heyman had joined the film as a producer, who would produce along with Tarantino and Shannon McIntosh. On November 11, 2017, Sony Pictures announced they would be distributing the film, having beaten Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Annapurna Pictures and Lionsgate for the rights. To secure the rights to distribute the film, Sony Pictures had to agree to Tarantino’s demands, which included “a $95 million production budget, final cut and ‘extraordinary creative controls'”, plus 25% of first-dollar gross. Another demand was that the rights to the movie revert to him after 10 to 20 years.” During a publicity interview by The Hollywood Reporter, Margot Robbie, when inquired about her potential involvement in the Tarantino-helmed film, noted that “Nothing’s official […] but I would kill to work with him.”
In January 2018, DiCaprio signed to star in the film, taking a pay cut to collaborate with Tarantino again. It was also revealed that Al Pacino was being eyed for a role. On February 28, 2018, the film was officially titled Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with Pitt cast in the role Cruise was also up for. DiCaprio and Pitt were both paid $10 million dollars for their work in the film. In March 2018, Robbie signed to co-star in the film as Sharon Tate, while Zoë Bell confirmed that she would also appear in the film. In May 2018, Burt Reynolds, Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, and Michael Madsen joined the cast with the latter three in small roles. Timothy Olyphant was also cast. In June 2018, Damian Lewis, Luke Perry, Emile Hirsch, Dakota Fanning, Clifton Collins Jr., Keith Jefferson, Nicholas Hammond, Pacino, and Scoot McNairy joined the cast.
Additional casting which included the additions of Spencer Garrett, James Remar, Brenda Vaccaro and Mike Moh was announced in July. In August 2018, additional castings were made, including Damon Herriman as Charles Manson, and Lena Dunham, Austin Butler, Danny Strong, Rumer Willis, Dreama Walker, and Margaret Qualley cast in supporting roles.
Principal photography began on June 18, 2018, in Los Angeles, California, and wrapped on November 1, 2018. Reynolds died in September 2018 before filming any of his scenes; Bruce Dern was cast as George Spahn in his place.
Tarantino and Robbie at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21, 2019. It is scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States on July 26, 2019, by Sony Pictures Releasing. The film was originally scheduled for release on August 9 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Tate–LaBianca murders.
A teaser trailer was released on March 20, 2019, featuring 1960s music by The Mamas & the Papas (“Straight Shooter”) and by Los Bravos (“Bring a Little Lovin'”). The official trailer was released on May 21, 2019 and featured the songs “Good Thing” by Paul Revere & The Raiders, and “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” by Neil Diamond.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 92% based on 66 reviews, with an average rating of 8.21/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Thrillingly unrestrained yet solidly crafted, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tempers Tarantino’s provocative impulses with the clarity of a mature filmmaker’s vision.” Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 88 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating “universal acclaim”.
Variety found it “a heady and engrossing nostalgia piece and love letter to 1960s L.A.”
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Movie Trailer #1
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Movie Trailer #2
Since his trailblazing debut, Reservoir Dogs (1992), every film by Quentin Tarantino has been cause for celebration. For his ninth feature, the movie-mad maverick offers a revisionist, what-if-it-were-so take on a Hollywood on the cusp of change, circa 1969. The outcome is as affecting as it is entertaining.
Real-life personalities commingle with fictional characters in a mosaic narrative studded with the director’s trademark traits — a blistering pace, snappy dialogue and gruesome violence.
In their first on-screen pairing, matinee idols Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt play a has-been TV actor and his temperamental stunt double, respectively.
The booze-sodden former star, hoping to revive his fading career on the big screen, accepts an offer from a talent agent (the ever-mercurial Al Pacino) to appear in spaghetti Westerns in villainous roles. Meanwhile, when he’s not driving around Tinseltown, the stuntman spends his time teaching his dog, Brandy, new tricks.
The plot’s crucial third strand introduces us to the acclaimed Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha) and his ill-fated wife, the actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). The high-profile couple takes up residence next door to the two middle-aged protagonists.
In the blood-splattered climax, Tarantino provides a commendably idealistic twist to the killing spree by the infamous Charles Manson counter-culture cult.
Tarantino painstakingly recreates the late-’60s Hollywood of rundown studio back lots and semi-sleazy cinema halls, and factors in vignettes featuring celebrities such as Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) and Steve McQueen (Damian Lewis).
Among several standout sequences count the poignant on-set interlude between DiCaprio and a child co-star (Julia Butters) who’s inspired by the method school of acting.
The eclectic soundtrack of era-specific pop tunes and the luminous cinematography by Robert Richardson also contribute to the potency of yet another Tarantino tour de force. Don’t miss it.