Exploring 5 Examples of Signature Quentin Tarantino Dialogue
Quentin Tarantino movies are memorable for a variety of reasons, but it's the Quentin Tarantino dialogue exchanges that can be unforgettable.
Many delicious ingredients go into any given Quentin Tarantino film, but for me, none are as essential to the experience as his signature brand of dialogue. As far as I’m concerned, Quentin Tarantino’s use of the English language in film is second to none – more importantly, the guy understands people. Even before the actors bring his words to life, the back-and-forth between his characters is so natural – so cool.
With Once Upon a Time in Hollywood primed to release next week, now is the perfect time for me to highlight five of my favorite exchanges from five of my favorite films from my favorite director, Quentin Tarantino.
Quick disclaimer: This isn’t a proper “top five” list of Quentin Tarantino movies or scenes. If it was, then I’d probably list scenes from Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction. His other movies deserve some love, too! Let’s get to it.
5 Quentin Tarantino Dialogue Exchanges That Leave a Lasting Impression
1. The Great Restaurant Tip Debate (Reservoir Dogs)
While discussing the inspiration behind both Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino expressed his desire to show criminals in a unique light. When they’re not busy robbing banks and jewelry stores, how do they spend their off-hours? What do they talk about? Surely, they’re plotting and scheming 24/7, right?
Well, if Reservoir Dogs’ opening scene is any indication, they more or less talk about the same things everyone else does – movies, music, whether restaurant waiters and waitresses should get a tip. The film is littered with similarly humanizing moments, but it’s this opening exchange in particular that perfectly captures the spirit of the movie’s ensemble. Plus, as the first scene of Quentin Tarantino’s filmography, it’s an appropriate stage-setter for things to come in his dialogue exchanges.
2. The Jew Hunter (Inglourious Basterds)
The first 15 minutes or so of 2009’s Inglourious Basterds might make for my favorite opening in any movie. If you’re wondering how Christoph Waltz sort of appeared on the Hollywood scene, then look no further than this scene. His turn as Nazi Colonel Hans Landa goes from charming to terrifying to charming again – all over a few minutes.
How Landa is able to coerce this poor farmer into giving up the location of the Jewish family hiding beneath his floorboards is as chilling as it gets for Quentin Tarantino dialogue exchanges. Quentin Tarantino has always had a knack for imbuing his characters – however despicable – with plenty of endearing qualities and nowhere is that more apparent than with perhaps Landa himself.
3. Christmas With Mother (The Hateful Eight)
Now, this dialogue exchange is fairly brief. For many, it may not even be one that immediately comes to mind. Given that The Hateful Eight takes place almost entirely in a single room – with an all-star cast of Quentin Tarantino veterans, no less – it was practically guaranteed to feature a smorgasbord of juicy dialogue. Indeed, in terms of the sheer number of quotable lines, The Hateful Eight might be at the top of my list.
All of that is to say that, I more or less drew this example out of a hat. Unnerving yet hilarious, John Ruth’s (Kurt Russell) initial meeting with Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) succinctly encapsulates the tone of the movie as a whole. Virtually everyone Ruth and Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) meet in this secluded cabin is wearing a mask of some kind – even Ruth himself isn’t exactly sold on Gage claiming to be on his way to spend Christmas with his mother. Gage’s retort – enhanced beautifully by Madsen’s gravelly voice – is just icing on the cake:
“Yeah, well, looks can be deceiving because I am definitely a coming-home-for-Christmas-to-spend-time-with-mother type. Christmas with mother, I mean, uh, it’s a wonderful thing.”
4. Breakfast at Hawthorne’s (Pulp Fiction)
Looking back, I’ve made a handful of food analogies throughout this article about favorite Quentin Tarantino dialogue exchanges. As countless others have already discussed, Quentin Tarantino loves to incorporate food into his movies! And though the subtext behind its inclusion in the final chapter of Pulp Fiction may not be as powerful as that of other scenes, it’s undeniably my favorite.
Following a tumultuous murder cleanup, we find Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) casually enjoying a meal at LA’s Hawthorne Grill. As cinema’s quintessential breakfast scene, it showcases Quentin Tarantino’s knack for natural-sounding dialogue better than any other. How their interaction transitions from one topic to the next feels real; honestly, I could watch a whole movie about these two guys chilling in this diner. That right there is the work of a master.
5. Unfinished Business (Kill Bill: Vol. 2)
Compared to the unbridled chaos of Kill Bill: Vol. 1’s finale, Vol. 2’s ending is much tamer. Heck, that’s true of the movie in general. Going into the film, many probably expected Beatrix’s (Uma Thurman) final confrontation with Bill (David Carradine) to be this climactic swordfight or kung fu battle. Although the scene certainly ends with a brief bout, most of this final meeting is spent with the two of them discussing everything that led to this moment.
Of course, it’s all done in the most Tarantino way possible, with Bill harping on superhero mythology. And despite Beatrix ultimately fulfilling the movie’s title, the scene ends with a surprisingly tender farewell. As is the case with all of Quentin Tarantino’s films, Kill Bill’s ending may not have been what many of us expected – no, it was better.
Quentin Tarantino dialogue leaves a lasting impression, and these five examples are only a sample of what the director delivers with every film he makes.