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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

Reservoir Dogs (1992) ft. Scott Hardie


What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: Crime is random and meaningless, and there is no honor among thieves.


Plot Summary: Six men are hired to rob the local jewelry store for a recent diamond shipment: Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), a new guy; Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), a trigger-happy killer; Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), a paranoid neurotic; Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino); and Mr. Blue (Edward Bunker). Hired by mob boss Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) and given fake names so no one could identify the others. At first it goes smoothly, but then the alarm gets tripped, several employees and customers die in the panic, and the cops show up within moments which results in a massive bloody shootout. They soon realize that one of them had to have been a police informant. But who?


Cast:

  • Harvey Keitel as Mr. White/Larry Dimmick

  • Tim Roth as Mr. Orange/Freddy Newandyke

  • Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde/"Toothpick" Vic Vega

  • Chris Penn as Nice Guy Eddie

  • Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink

  • Lawrence Tierney as Joe Cabot

  • Randy Brooks as Holdaway

  • Kirk Baltz as Marvin Nash

  • Edward Bunker as Mr. Blue

  • Quentin Tarantino as Mr. Brown

*Recognition:

  • Reservoir Dogs was released on October 9, 1992 after previously debuting at Sundance earlier that year.

  • It made a modest $2.9 million in its initial run, but was boosted after the success of Tarantino's second film, Pulp Fiction (1994).

  • Steve Buscemi won the 1992 Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male Actor.

  • Reservoir Dogs ranked at No. 97 in Empire magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Films of All Time.

  • Reservoir Dogs currently holds an 89% on RT among critics, a 79 score on Metacritic, and a 4.1 out of 5 on Letterboxd.

Did You Know:

  • Armed with $30,000 and a 16mm camera, Quentin Tarantino was all set to make the film with a bunch of friends, including his producing partner Lawrence Bender, who was going to play Nice Guy Eddie. It was then that Tarantino received an answerphone message from Harvey Keitel, asking if he could not only be in the film, but help produce it. Keitel had gotten involved via the wife of Bender's acting class teacher, who had managed to get a copy of the script to him. Keitel's involvement helped raise the budget to $1.5 million.

  • The film's budget was so low that many of the actors were asked to simply bring their own clothing as wardrobe; most notably Chris Penn's track jacket. The signature black suits were provided for free by the designer, based on her love for the American crime film genre. Steve Buscemi wore his own black jeans instead of suit pants, and Michael Madsen wore a jacket and pants that came from two different suits.

  • Madonna, who is the main topic of the opening conversation, really liked the film, but refuted Quentin Tarantino's interpretation of her song "Like a Virgin". She gave him a copy of her "Erotica" album, signed, "To Quentin. It's not about dick, it's about love. Madonna."

  • Quentin Tarantino was originally going to play Mr. Pink, although he made a point of letting all the other actors audition for the part. When Steve Buscemi came in to read for it, Tarantino told him that he really wanted the part for himself, and that the only way Buscemi could possibly wrestle it from him was to do a killer audition. Buscemi duly complied.

  • Quentin Tarantino wanted James Woods to play a role in the film, and made him five different cash offers. Woods' agent refused the offers without ever mentioning it to Woods, as the sums offered were well below Woods' usual salary. When Tarantino and Woods later met for the first time, Woods learned of the offer and was annoyed enough to get a new agent. Tarantino avoided telling Woods which role he was offered, "because the actor who played the role was magnificent anyway." It has been speculated that the role to which Tarantino was referring was Mr. Orange.

  • Quentin Tarantino added the opening diner scene to give Mr. Blue ( Edward Bunker ) some lines because he was the only character without any.

  • The budget wouldn't cover police assistance for traffic control, so in the scene where Steve Buscemi forces a woman out of her car and drives off in it, he could only do so when the traffic lights were green.

  • According to an interview on the DVD, Michael Madsen says that Kirk Baltz asked to ride in his trunk to experience what it was really like. Madsen agreed, but decided as he went along that this was time for his own character development. So he drove down a long alley with potholes, and then a Taco Bell drive-through before taking Baltz back to the parking lot and letting him out.

Best Performance: Steve Buscemi (Pink)/Quentin Tarantino (Writer/Director/Brown)/Michael Madsen (Blonde)

Best Secondary Performance: Steve Buscemi (Pink)/Tim Roth (Orange)/Quentin Tarantino (Writer/Director/Brown)

Most Charismatic Award: Tim Roth (Orange)/Harvey Keitel (White)

Best Scene:

  • Breakfast

  • "I'm Dying..."

  • "We've been set up!"

  • Mr. White

  • Ear Splitting Music

  • Commode Story

  • Final Standoff

  • Epilogue

Favorite Scene: Final Standoff/Breakfast/"I'm Dying..."

Most Indelible Moment: Final Standoff/Ear Splitting Music


In Memorium:

  • David Davis, 86, American television writer and producer (The Bob Newhart Show, Taxi, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda), Emmy winner (1979). Married to Julie Kavner who voices Marge on the Simpsons, and served as a special adviser to James L. Brooks on Terms of Endearment and Broadcast News.

  • Aaron Carter, 34, American singer ("Crush on You", "Aaron's Party (Come Get It)", "Leave It Up to Me"). Child pop singer and brother of Backstreet Boys member, Nick Carter, was also a star of the Reality TV show "House of Carters".

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Nice Guy Eddie: C'mon, throw in a buck!

Mr. Pink: Uh-uh, I don't tip.

Nice Guy Eddie: You don't tip?

Mr. Pink: Nah, I don't believe in it.

Nice Guy Eddie: You don't believe in tipping?

Mr. Blue: You know what these chicks make? They make shit.

Mr. Pink: Don't give me that. She don't make enough money, then she can quit.

Nice Guy Eddie: I don't even know a fucking Jew who'd have the balls to say that. Let me get this straight: you don't ever tip?

Mr. Pink: I don't tip because society says I have to. All right, if someone deserves a tip, if they really put forth an effort, I'll give them something a little something extra. But this tipping automatically, it's for the birds. As far as I'm concerned, they're just doing their job.

Mr. Blue: Hey, our girl was nice.

Mr. Pink: She was okay. She wasn't anything special.

Mr. Blue: What's special? Take you in the back and suck your dick?

Nice Guy Eddie: I'd go over twelve percent for that.


Mr. Pink: Fuck you, White! I didn't create the situation, I'm just dealin' with it! You're acting like a first year fucking thief - I'm acting like a professional! If they get him, they can get you. They get you, they get closer to me, and that can't happen!


Mr. Blonde: Hey Joe... Want me to shoot this guy?

Mr. White: Shit... You shoot me in a dream, you better wake up and apologize.


Mr. Orange: What happens if the manager won't give you the diamonds?

Mr. White: When you're dealing with a store like this, they're insured up the ass. They're not supposed to give you any resistance whatsoever. If you get a customer, or an employee, who thinks he's Charles Bronson, take the butt of your gun and smash their nose in. Everybody jumps. He falls down screaming, blood squirts out of his nose, nobody says fucking shit after that. You might get some bitch talk shit to you, but give her a look like you're gonna smash her in the face next, watch her shut the fuck up. Now if it's a manager, that's a different story. Managers know better than to fuck around, so if you get one that's giving you static, he probably thinks he's a real cowboy, so you gotta break that son of a bitch in two. If you wanna know something and he won't tell you, cut off one of his fingers. The little one. Then tell him his thumb's next. After that he'll tell you if he wears ladies underwear. I'm hungry. Let's get a taco.


Mr. Blonde: Are you gonna bark all day little doggie? Or are you gonna bite?


Nice Guy Eddie: If you fucking beat this prick long enough, he'll tell you he started the goddamn Chicago fire, now that don't necessarily make it fucking so!


Mr. Blonde: Was that as good for you as it was for me?


[Nice Guy Eddie asks if anyone knows what happened to Mr. Blue]

Mr. Blonde: Either he's alive or he's dead, or the cops got him... or they don't.


Mr. Pink: Somebody's shoved a red-hot poker up our ass, and I want to know whose name is on the handle!


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 8.5

Impact/Significance: 7.33

Novelty: 9.17

Classic-ness: 6.67

Rewatchability: 8

Audience Score: 9.25 (91% Google, 94% RT)

Total: 48.92


Remaining Questions:

  • If the cops were waiting for Joe to arrive, why didn't they rush in when he showed up?

  • Why did Mr. Orange reveal he was a cop to Mr. White in the end?

  • How does Mr. Pink end up with the diamonds if he drops the bag in the street?

  • What happened to Mr. Blue?

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