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."
The film's budget was so low, that many of the actors simply used 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.
Mr. Blonde's (Michael Madsen's) real name is Vic Vega. This is the same surname as Vince (John Travolta) from Pulp Fiction (1994). Tarantino has revealed that Vic and Vince are brothers. He also intended to do a prequel to both films called "Double V Vega", which would star the Vega Brothers, but Madsen and Travolta eventually got too old to reprise their roles, and Tarantino has since abandoned it.
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.
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.
During filming, a paramedic was kept on the set to make sure that Mr. Orange's (Tim Roth's) amount of blood loss was kept consistent, and realistic to that of a real gunshot victim.
Tim Roth refused to read for the film. He did insist on going out drinking with Quentin Tarantino and Harvey Keitel. He agreed to read for them when they were all drunk.
For the European release, the distributor used one sheet posters for each of the main characters. This was quite a novel strategy at the time, which has now become widespread.
Michael Madsen had difficulty filming the torture scenes, due to his strong aversion to violence of any kind, and was particularly reluctant when he was required to hit Kirk Baltz. When Baltz ad-libbed a line that his character has a child at home, Madsen, who had just become a new father himself, was so disturbed by the idea of leaving a child fatherless, that he almost couldn't finish the scene. This take made it into in the movie, and in some versions of the film, you can clearly hear someone, possibly Quentin Tarantino himself, utter "Oh, no no!" off-screen.
At several points, Tim Roth had lain in the pool of fake blood for so long, that the blood dried out, and he had to be peeled off the floor, which took several minutes.
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. The soda he ordered at said drive-through is the same one he can be seen drinking during his character's first appearance in the warehouse.
In an interview on BBC in 2009, Quentin Tarantino said he was proud the movie is often on top ten heist movies, even though you never actually see the heist.
Armed with thirty thousand dollars 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 one and a half million dollars.
Mr. Orange's apartment was the upstairs to the warehouse, where most of the movie takes place. The filmmakers redecorated it to look like an apartment in order to save money on finding a real apartment.
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.
The title for the film came to Quentin Tarantino via a patron at the now-famous Video Archives. While working there, Tarantino would often recommend little-known titles to customers, and when he suggested Louis Malle's Au Revoir les Enfants (1987), the patron mockingly replied, "I don't want to see no reservoir dogs!" The title is never spoken in the film, however.
DIRECTOR_TRADEMARK(Quentin Tarantino): apple]: Tarantino avoids product placement in his movies as much as possible. This is why anyone who smokes is smoking a pack of "Red Apples", a brand Tarantino made up. The exception in this movie, is when Mr. White offers Mr. Pink a Chesterfield cigarette. (Additionally, any cereal in his films (Fruit Brute, Kabooom!, et cetera) are all brands that died out in the 1970s and no longer exist.)
In an interview with Empire Magazine, career criminal Edward Bunker (Mr. Blue) stated that the film was unrealistic. He would never have considered committing a robbery with five people he didn't know (and therefore could not trust). He also commented that it would be extremely foolhardy for the distinctively dressed gang to publicly have breakfast together beforehand. When news of the robbery broke, witnesses would be certain to remember them.
Mr. Blonde's Cadillac Coupe de Ville belonged to Michael Madsen, because the budget wasn't big enough to buy a car for the character.
One of the radio ads heard in the background is for "Jack Rabbit Slim's", the fictitious 1950s-themed restaurant, and "home of the five dollar milkshake" that was also featured in Pulp Fiction (1994).
On a day off during the shoot, Lawrence Tierney was arrested for allegedly pulling a gun on his nephew. According to Quentin Tarantino, Tierney "was taken from his bail arraignment to the set."
Quentin Tarantino originally wrote the role of Mr. Pink for himself. Steve Buscemi originally auditioned for the part of Mr. White. Michael Madsen originally auditioned for the part of Mr Pink. George Clooney read for the role of Mr. Blonde/Vic Vega, but was turned down, and Christopher Walken refused the same role. Vincent Gallo turned down the role of Mr. Pink. Samuel L. Jackson auditioned for the role of Mr. Orange. Once Tim Roth was cast, Quentin Tarantino originally wanted him to play Mr. Blonde or Mr. Pink. Robert Forster and Timothy Carey auditioned for the part of Joe Cabot, and the film is dedicated to Carey. Forster eventually played Max Cherry in Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997).
Quentin Tarantino had to fight Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein to keep the torture scene in the film, as Weinstein felt it would have a serious negative effect on audiences. Tarantino stood his ground, and Weinstein ultimately relented.
Voted best independent film ever by Empire Magazine. It also was voted most influential movie in the past fifteen years by the same magazine.
To avoid alienating the film's backers, Producer Lawrence Bender had the tamer scenes shot first, so that the dailies would strengthen the backers' confidence, before getting to the nasty, violent scenes.
The film was released in America with almost no promotion, so it did not do that well at the box-office. In England, however, it was such a huge hit, that Quentin Tarantino would be mobbed as he walked down the street in London. British filmmakers have been influenced by it since.
Although there is no definitive answer to what Mr. White whispers to Mr. Orange, in the French release of the film he says, "You don't want a blow job, by the way?" In the Italian dubbed version, he says, "Do you want me to give you a hand job, too?", and in the Spanish dubbed version he says, "I'll comb your hair, so you look handsome."
Pop singer sensation Pink revealed in several interviews that her stage name was inspired by the character of Mr. Pink.
The line where Mr. White tells Mr. Pink, "I need you cool. Are you cool?" was added into the script after a conflict between Lawrence Tierney and Michael Madsen. To break the scuffle and continue shooting, Quentin Tarantino said to Tierney, "Larry. I need you cool. Are you cool?"
Quentin Tarantino added the opening diner scene to give Mr. Blue some lines because he was the only character without any.
In 2014, Quentin Tarantino revealed in an interview that the entire soundtrack budget was spent on securing "Stuck in the Middle with You" for the film. Tarantino was content with having no other music in the film as long as he could use that song. The other songs were secured thanks to the producers' managing to make a record deal for the soundtrack. Tarantino and the producers were well aware that that plan might not have worked out at all.
At the end of the breakfast scene, you can see Quentin Tarantino raise his arm to end the scene. But the scene carries on anyway, this is because Lawrence Tierney had botched his lines over and over in previous takes. This was left in the final cut of the film.
At the very first screening of the film at the Sundance Film Festival, Quentin Tarantino stood up in the middle of the movie and told them to stop projecting, due to the fact that the entire film was shot in widescreen, and the projector only had a normal-sized lens (not meant for widescreen), so half of whatever was shot wasn't up on-screen.
Robert Kurtzman did the special make-up effects for free, on the condition that Quentin Tarantino write a script for From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) based on a story by Kurtzman.
In the commentary track on the True Romance (1993) DVD, Quentin Tarantino says that Tony Scott read both the "True Romance" and "Reservoir Dogs" scripts, and told Tarantino he wanted to direct "Reservoir Dogs". Tarantino told him he could have "True Romance", but that he himself was going to direct "Reservoir Dogs".
Editor Sally Menke's agent originally lobbied for her not to take the film. Menke disagreed and went on to edit Quentin Tarantino's first six movies.
Quentin Tarantino was considering using "Ballroom Blitz" by Sweet as an alternate song for the "ear" scene, but went with Stealers Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle with You".
Terry Gilliam is thanked in the credits in gratitude for advice he gave to Quentin Tarantino during a Sundance workshop.
In Mr. White's flashback, Joe asks him about a girl named Alabama. This is a reference to Patricia Arquette's character from True Romance (1993). Quentin Tarantino has stated that he originally intended this character to meet up with Mr. White and to become partners in crime. When True Romance (1993) was released, the ending was changed, and this backstory became inconsistent. Alabama never went on to meet up with Mr. White.
Prior to the scene showing the colored bottles of soap, you see two shirts hanging on the wall, and a rag in the distance on the floor. These are appropriately in sync with the surnames of the characters in their present states. Mr. White and Mr. Pink are upright and close to each other, corresponding to the two shirt colors, while the orange rag laying in the distance would be the position of Mr. Orange in the next room.
According to Steve Buscemi in a recent podcast interview, everyone had a difficult time with Lawrence Tierney because he was easily distracted and kept forgetting his lines. Quentin Tarantino and everyone else were so upset with him that Quentin fired Lawrence on the third day of filming.
The opening conversation concerns a song by Madonna. Chris Penn, playing Nice Guy Eddie Cabot, was Madonna's former brother-in-law. His older brother Sean was married to Madonna for four years.
Quentin Tarantino and Producer Lawrence Bender used to joke that they were the most inexperienced people on the set.
The line "Let's go to work" is often attributed to this film, but in fact comes from The Professionals (1966), one of Quentin Tarantino's favorite movies.
The first draft script called for Pink Floyd's "Money" where "Little Green Bag" is now. It was later changed, because Quentin Tarantino heard "Little Green Bag" over the radio and became extremely nostalgic. The original song choice "Money" by Pink Floyd, and the existing song "Little Green Bag" feature colors.
Kirk Baltz recalls that a more graphic version of the ear-cutting scene was filmed, involving a tube running up to his ear that squirted blood. Michael Madsen, however, has said he thought it was "rather tame", after seeing the scene play out that way.
At age seventeen, Edward Bunker, a former career criminal, was the youngest felon to be sent to San Quentin. He was an author, and also played cons in other films, Runaway Train (1985), The Longest Yard (2005), and Straight Time (1978) (which was based on his novel). In addition, he worked as a Technical Advisor on other films, Heat (1995), for instance. Jon Voight's character in Heat (1995) was based on Bunker.
Monte Hellman was originally tapped to direct the film, as Quentin Tarantino was a complete unknown. However, when Tarantino sold the screenplay for True Romance (1993) for fifty thousand dollars, he lobbied hard to direct the film himself. Hellman took on an Executive Producer role instead.
The warehouse, where the majority of the movie takes place, was once a mortuary, and thus is full of caskets. Mr. Blonde doesn't sit down on a crate, it's actually an old hearse, on which he perches.
The final print of the film came back from the lab just three days before its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
WILHELM SCREAM: (At around twenty minutes) The famous scream is heard when Mr. Pink pushes a pedestrian on the sidewalk while being pursued by cops during his escape from the failed jewel heist.
In the script, it was Mr. White who doesn't tip, not Mr. Pink. Also, it was Mr. Pink who had the first lines about "Like a Virgin".This was when Quentin Tarantino still intended to play Mr. Pink.
The suit Harvey Keitel wore was his own. It had been a specially-made gift from French Designer Agnès B.
In the first scene of the Mr. Blonde chapter, when Vic Vega is meeting with Joe and Nice Guy Eddie, he states that his parole officer is Seymour Scagnetti. This character may be related to the character Jack Scagnetti, the detective in Natural Born Killers (1994), which was also scripted by Quentin Tarantino.
In the French version, the line "If you fucking beat this prick long enough, he'll tell you he started the goddamn Chicago fire" was translated into "he'll tell you he blew the bridge over the River Kwai".
Was voted the second greatest directorial debut of all time behind Citizen Kane (1941).
The theatrical release of the film contains no female speaking parts. There are some in the 10th Anniversary DVD, including Nina Siemaszko as McKlusky.
During a screening at Sitges Film Festival, fifteen people walked out, including Wes Craven and Special Make-up Effects Artist Rick Baker. Baker later told Quentin Tarantino to take the walkout as a "compliment", and explained that he found the violence unnerving, because of its heightened sense of realism. Tarantino commented about it at the time: "It happens at every single screening. For some people, the violence, or the rudeness of the language, is a mountain they can't climb. That's okay. It's not their cup of tea. But I am affecting them. I wanted that scene to be disturbing."
Mr. Pink's numerous references to being "professional" are a reference to Director Howard Hawks, a favorite of Quentin Tarantino's.
Of his decision to not show the heist itself, Quentin Tarantino has said that the reason was initially budgetary, but that he had always liked the idea of not showing it, and stuck with that idea in order to make the details of the heist ambiguous. He has said that the technique allows for the realization that the film is "about other things"; a similar plot outline that appears in the stage play Glengarry Glen Ross, and its film adaptation, in which the mentioned robbery is never shown on camera. Tarantino has compared this to the work of a novelist, and has said that he wanted the film to be about something that is not seen, and that he wanted it to "play with a real-time clock as opposed to a movie clock ticking."
When Mr. Pink has his speech about not tipping, he mentions that he once worked for minimum wage. This might be a reference to Pulp Fiction (1994), where Steve Buscemi (Mr. Pink) is a waiter who serves Mia (Uma Thurman) and Vincent (John Travolta). However, this is unlikely, since Tarantino hadn't written the script for Pulp Fiction (1994) yet.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Quentin Tarantino): (long take): (At around fifty-seven minutes) While torturing the cop, we follow Mr. Blonde continuously from the warehouse to his car outside, back into the warehouse again.
In the opening scene, when Mr. Pink is giving his tipping speech, he says when he orders coffee he wants his cup filled six times. Earlier in the film, when Chris Penn starts talking about "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia", Mr. Pink can be seen about to take a sip from his cup before realizing it's empty. He then looks for the waitress.
Quentin Tarantino cast Tim Roth after being impressed by his work in Vincent & Theo (1990). Besides, after auditioning several other prospective actors who mostly wanted to play any character but Mr. Orange, Roth was only too anxious to take on that role.
While driving in the car, someone mentioned Pam Grier. She starred in Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997).
On their way to the first meeting about the heist, Misters Pink, White, Orange, and Nice Guy Eddie, are discussing a television show. It is Get Christie Love! (1974), and the actress whose name they can't remember, is Teresa Graves.
David Duchovny auditioned for a part. According to Duchovny, Quentin Tarantino told him, "I like what you do, I just don't know if I want you to do it in my movie."
Viggo Mortensen auditioned for a role. He read for a Hispanic character in a scene to be performed with Harvey Keitel. More than twenty years later, Quentin Tarantino offered him a role in The Hateful Eight (2015), but Viggo couldn't commit, due to scheduling conflicts.
During the bathroom scene, where Mr. White and Mr. Pink are discussing who is alive or dead, and specifically Mr. Blonde, there is a hint that Mr. Blonde is alive. Much like the white and pink shirts and the orange rag, the bathroom contains one other item hinting at a character. Behind Mr. White, when he is doing his hair, there is a yellow sink, suggesting Mr. Blonde is alive.
In an interview featured in the documentary I am fishead (2011) psychologist Robert D. Hare reports that Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) and Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) illustrate the differences between the mental health diagnoses of sociopathy and psychopathy. Mr. White is a sociopath, a professional criminal who nonetheless has some loyalty and standards of conduct. He takes no pleasure in violence, but regards the use of force as an occasional necessity in his vocation. In contrast, Mr. Blonde enjoys torturing the captured police officer. Mr. White explicitly describes Mr. Blonde as a "psychopath", and condemns his reckless shooting of people.
Jon Cryer was offered the role of Mr. Pink, but he turned it down. He admitted that he did not understand the script, and would not have gotten the part.
Dennis Hopper was offered the role of Mr. Pink by Quentin Tarantino and Harvey Keitel, but he was unavailable.
During the torture scene, you can faintly hear whispering in the background, this is said to be Quentin Tarantino.
Producer Lawrence Bender had a small cameo appearance in this movie as one of the police officers that is chasing Mr. Pink.
The torture scene between Mr. Blonde and the cop is rated number one on "watch mojo's top ten movie torture scenes of all time".
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
In Pulp Fiction (1994), "The Wolf" (Harvey Keitel) has a phone call while in one of Jimmy's rooms, ending with the line, "You're a good man, Joe. Thanks a bunch." This might be a nod to Quentin Tarantino's work with Lawrence Tierney in this film.
The film is highly influenced by City on Fire (1987). A lot of the scenes and plot points were almost directly borrowed from it.
This film and Pulp Fiction (1994) have prologues featuring criminals at breakfast. Tim Roth links these scenes, as he's in both of them.
Picked by Entertainment Weekly magazine as one of the "50 Greatest Independent Films" in a special supplement devoted to independent films that was only distributed to subscribers in November 1997.
Quentin Tarantino discovered Steve Buscemi "looking like a real criminal" in a test for a Neil Simon movie.
Before Michael Madsen was cast as Mr. Blonde, he was considered to play John McClane in Die Hard (1988). That role went to Bruce Willis, with whom Madsen later worked on Sin City (2005). Quentin Tarantino also worked with Willis in Pulp Fiction (1994). Steve Buscemi also appeared in Pulp Fiction (1994), as a waiter who resembles Buddy Holly. He also worked with Willis on Armageddon (1998).
Seymour Cassel and Steve Buscemi went to the audition together. Steve auditioned for Nice Guy Eddie and Seymour auditioned for Joe.
Oddly enough, in all the film's advertising, including posters and the theatrical trailer, Tim Roth was billed second, while Michael Madsen received the honorary "and" billing at the end of the roll call. However, in the film, Madsen and Roth switch billings, as Madsen is now second, behind Harvey Keitel, and Roth with the "and" credit at the end.
At a Tribeca 25th Anniversary screening of this film in April 2017, Quentin Tarantino recalled that at one showing, there were thirty-three walkouts during the torture scene.
This film contains two hundred sixty-nine uses of the "f" word in a one hour and thirty-nine minute run time. That's 2.71 uses per minute.
Robert Forster auditioned for Joe Cabot. Quentin Tarantino cast him in Jackie Brown (1997).
The infamous "Stuck in the Middle With You" scene was mockingly re-created in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005), season eleven, episode eight, "Charlie Catches a Leprechaun".
In the opening scene, while the men are having breakfast, before they all stand up, Quentin Tarantino's hand can be seen, to stop filming. However, the men all stood up and left, so he just carried on, and the scene remained.
Even though Quentin Tarantino abhors product placement, behind Harvey Keitel there is a can of stain blocker, aptly named "Kilz". To be fair, it is partially taped over.
In the script, the wounded Mr. Orange is laid down on a mattress, instead of on the wooden ramp in the warehouse.
In an edition of Radio Times back in 2001, Andrew Collins wrote an article about the film. "There are actually no reservoirs or dogs in it, Tarantino claims he got the title from mishearing Au Revoir les Enfants (1987)". Collins was correct overall, except he overlooked the scene when Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) goes into the men's room during his fabricated commode story in a flashback. The Los Angeles Sheriffs had a German Shepherd with them.
The film cast includes two Academy Award winners: Quentin Tarantino and Steven Wright; and three Academy Award nominees: Tim Roth, Lawrence Bender, and Harvey Keitel.
About three minutes into the movie a silhouette of Mickey Mouse is seen, cast by a fan in between Steve Buscemi and Edward Bunker.
The Reservoir Dogs: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on October 13, 1992 by MCA.
Tom Sizemore was a finalist for the part of Mr. Pink. Sizemore worked with Chris Penn in True Romance (1993).
Lawrence Tierney and Edward Bunker had met before: they got into a fistfight in an Los Angeles parking lot sometime in the 1950s. (According to Bunker, Tierney didn't recall the incident.)
When Joe Cabot is preparing to give the gang their color coded names, he says, "Five guys sitting in a bull pen in San Quentin". Lawrence Tierney starred in San Quentin (1946).
While searching for producers to finance the film and save them from having to make it themselves on a minuscule budget, Quentin Tarantino and Lawrence Bender fielded several offers that sounded good, to but had a catch to them. One producer offered one and a half million dollars, but only if the ending was changed, so that everyone who was dead came back to life, the whole thing having been a hoax or a con of some kind. Another offered five hundred thousand dollars, but only if his girlfriend could play Mr. Blonde. (Bender said it was such a bizarre idea, that he and Tarantino actually considered it.)
Mr. White is the only "color" who makes no contribution to the "Like a Virgin" discussion. Mr. Brown is the only "color" who makes no contribution to the "tipping" discussion.
Madonna is mentioned in the opening scene when Mr. Brown is discussing her song, "Like a Virgin". Mr White is present of course. Harvey Keitel co-starred with Madonna in Dangerous Game (1993).
Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) shows some compassion for the waitress when Mr. Pink says, "Look, now we've been here a long fucking time. When I order coffee, I want my cup filled six times." "Six times? Well, what if she's too fucking busy?" Mr. Blonde responds. This is a rare moment of compassion from the merciless Mr. Blonde.
Part of the dialogue between police officer Marvin Nash and Mr. Orange is used in the intro of the cover song "I Burn For You" by black metal artist Nargaroth, in his 2001 album Black Metal Ist Krieg.
A few of the Misters discuss Pam Grier in the car. Quentin Tarantino cast Pam Grier in Jackie Brown (1997).
On August 24th, 2017, Tarantino revealed on the website the studio exec he will release a director's cut that will include the deleted jewelry store heist and several other deleted scenes including Mr. blue's death, he said that the robbery scene was left out due to lighting issues and terrible grading but now he'll be able to fix it and put it back in.
Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, and Steve Buscemi have worked with Director Robert Altman. Keitel in Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976), Roth in Vincent & Theo (1990), Penn in Short Cuts (1993), and Buscemi in Kansas City (1996).
This is the second film on which Lawrence Tierney has worked with a Cinematographer named "Andrzej". He is Andrzej Sekula. Tierney worked with Cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak on Prizzi's Honor (1985).
This is the second film where Michael Madsen tortures a man who is tied to a chair with a razorblade. The first was Kill Me Again (1989).
Robert Rodriguez had his debut, El Mariachi (1992), the same year as Quentin Tarantino had with this movie. Since then, they have collaborated on numerous projects.
Cast members Lawrence Tierney and Lawrence Bender have the same first name. (Really, you don't say!)
In Harvey Keitel - The first documentary - To be an actor, (available on YouTube), two jobs Keitel did were selling shoes and working as a court stenographer. The hilariously synthesized voice of "Paul", who narrates the text, says of Keitel selling shoes, "But he didn't like the work. The mundanity and the monotony of it rapidly drove him wild". In this movie, Keitel, (as Mr. White), wears black shoes to match his suit. It's ironic that Keitel was a court sternograher, as this is part of law enforcement, given that he has a tendency to play criminals in his films quite often.