True Romance

By on May 6, 2010

True Romance wallows in every possible seedy contrivance of American crime cinema. It is absolutely shameless in its exploitation of excessive violence, over-acting, melodrama, lurid sex, and rampant drug use.

Quentin Tarantino penned the script, but what really shines here os the stellar efforts by the cast, including Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, who both give solid performances. The Walken/Hopper showdown has been oft sighted as the film’s best aspect. Val Kilmer plays the ghost of Elvis, Brad Pitt as a disgruntled pot-smoking loser, Tom Sizemore & Chris Penn as cops, James Gandolfini (pre-Sopranos) as a reflective hit-man, Bronson Pinchot! As Drexel Spivey, Gary Oldman shines.

Writer Quentin Tarantino sold this script to fund Reservoir Dogs (1992).

When Dick Ritchie throws the suitcase full of coke into the air, a “D.A.R.E. to keep kids off drugs” bumper sticker can be seen.

Bronson Pinchot ad-libbed the scene where his character was caught with the cocaine.

The comic book that Clarence shows Alabama is “Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos” #18. In this issue, Nick has gotten a ring for his sweetheart (Pamela Hawley) that he keeps on a chain around his neck. Later in the story, he gets in a fight with a Nazi and the ring falls overboard but Fury dives into the ocean to retrieve it. What Clarence doesn’t tell Alabama is that when Fury returns to give the ring to his love he finds she’s been killed.

The screenplay of True Romance (1993) was originally part of a very long screenplay written by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary. The other half of it was used for the film Natural Born Killers (1994). In both films Tom Sizemore plays a cop.


Quentin Tarantino sold the script for $50,000 which was the minimum amount of money that can be paid for a script at the time (according to WGA rules).

Tarantino wanted the role of Concotti to be played by Robert Forster. This role went to Christopher Walken.

According to Dennis Hopper, the only words that were improvised in the scene with Christopher Walken were “egg plant” and “cantaloupe”.

The work “fuck” and its derivatives are said 225 times.

Quentin Tarantino said that he never visited the set of the movie during filming.

The structure of the script was different in Quentin Tarantino’s original script. The first two parts of the movie were told in trademark Tarantino nonlinear fashion. Director Tony Scott changed the script to linear structure for filming.

The roller coaster scene was originally written to have taken place in a zoo. Director Tony Scott changed it to give the movie an “adrenaline rush”.

It was Brad Pitt’s idea for his character to be a stoner who never leaves the couch.

One of the original directors set up to do this was B-movie veteran William Lustig. But Tarantino turned him down because he did not believe he could do like Jonathan Demme (who went from B-movies to “regular” feature movies).

Following the “eggplant scene”, Dennis Hopper was concerned about being “shot” by Christopher Walken with the prop gun so close against his head for fear of being burned by the barrel. Director Tony Scott assured him the gun was 100% safe, and even tested it by having the prop man fire it against his (Scott’s) own forehead. But upon firing the prop gun the barrel extended about a third of an inch and Scott ended up on the floor with blood pouring from the wound.

In Quentin Tarantino’s original script Floyd D. calls Drexl a “white boy”. That’s why Drexl kills him and Big Don. In the original script Marty wasn’t around when Drexl kills them.

Gary Oldman based the character of Drexl on an actor named Willi One Blood, who he later starred with in Luc Besson’s Léon (1994).

Jack Black appears in a cameo as a theater usher in a deleted scene.

That’s Patricia Arquette’s four-year-old son Enzo Rossi in the final scene.

Tony Scott gave Patricia Arquette the Cadillac featured heavily in the film as a gift after filming wrapped.

According to director Tony Scott, Val Kilmer had originally wanted to play the character of Clarence. Kilmer spent 8 hours in make-up being transformed into Elvis Presley. Fortunately, he was only required for two days of filming. The character is called Mentor in the closing credits so as not to face any litigation from the Presley estate.

The character of Blue Lou Boyle was originally a speaking part (with Robert De Niro as the definite favorite), but many cuts were made to Quentin Tarantino’s script, including a scene featuring him. Instead, he’s briefly mentioned as Vincent Coccotti’s (Christopher Walken) superior.

The scene on the roller coaster was filmed over two days. Michael Rapaport unfortunately has a fear of roller coasters, and suffers from acute motion sickness, facts which no one knew during the first day’s filming. By the second day, the crew was prepared for this, and they gave him something to calm his nerves. As a result, one can easily tell from cut to cut on which day a particular moment was filmed by watching his face in the background. His expression goes back and forth from apprehensive and nauseous (the first day) to bland and oblivious of his surroundings (the second day).

As a temporary music track, Film Editor Tony Ciccone put “Outshined” by Soundgarden in the scene where stoner Brad Pitt gives directions to the henchman. The result was such a hit at test screenings that a good portion of the music budget went for obtaining rights to use the hit song in the final film.

The opera piece heard during the scene with Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper is from Lakmé by Léo Delibes. It is also used in The Hunger (1983), another film directed by Tony Scott.

The hat Brad Pitt wears in the kitchen sequence he found abandoned on the boardwalk in Venice, California. He took it, washed it, and wore it for the film.

In the diner scene, when Clarence asks Alabama what her turn-offs are, she replies “Persians” in the finished film. Being turned off by her character appearing racist in that scene, Patricia Arquette, who played Alabama, name-dropped a different ethnicity for each take that was shot. She said she wanted to be equally offensive to all people.

In a 2008 Maxim article, it is revealed that the character of Lee Donowitz, played by Saul Rubinek, was envisioned as a portrayal of Hollywood producer Joel Silver by the film’s director, Tony Scott. The two had just worked together on The Last Boy Scout (1991). When Scott told Rubinek that he “got Joel exactly right” during his audition, Rubinek had no idea who Joel Silver even was. In the article, Scott is quoted as saying: “The Hollywood satire is affectionate, but Joel didn’t talk to me for a long time after that.”

In the DVD commentary, Quentin Tarantino admits that this is the most autobiographical movie he has ever made.

The character of movie producer Lee Donowitz is loosely based on Oliver Stone, whom screenwriter Quentin Tarantino had a since-resolved grudge against at the time, based on his direction of Natural Born Killers (1994).

The roller coaster scene was filmed on and around the Viper at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, just north of Los Angeles. The Viper is still in operation as of 2009.

Clarence offer to shows Alabama Spider-Man #1 at the comic book store. He probably was referring to Amazing Spider-Man #1 published in 1963, one of the most sought-after modern superhero comic books. The value is extremely dependent on condition, but as of 2009 even a well-worn issue would bring at least $1000 and a perfect pristine copy might sell at auction for close to $100,000.

Tarantino’s original ending had Clarence dying in the gun battle, leaving Alabama a widow. Tarantino said that he intended Alabama to turn to crime and join with Mr. White, a character from Reservoir Dogs (1992) (which he wrote and directed). In a flashback scene in Reservoir Dogs (1992), Mr. White is asked about “Alabama”.

There are two versions of cop Nicky Dimes’ death during the hotel suite shootout. In one of them, Dimes executes Boris for Boris’ murder of Cody Nicholson but is then shot and killed by one of the mobsters right before that mobster also dies. In the other version, Dimes still executes Boris but is then shot to death by Alabama because she thinks he shot and killed Clarence (who is badly wounded but alive). Both versions have been used during the film’s extensive cable-TV airings.



About Thomas DiSanto

Thomas DiSanto is an award winning author and one of the world's top bloggers.