Every director’s got a list of movies that inspired them and shaped their vision. Sure, you can go to a film school to learn the techniques and visual language you need to make a great film, or you can just watch a shit ton of movies and take bits and pieces of each to make your own vision. Quentin Tarantino falls into the latter camp.For him, though, each choice he makes today for his movies, is a deliberate callback to a genre, character, costume or specific scene from the movies that shaped him. He’s had countless of interviews where he’s listed his top films, and that list usually ends up at 12, but it’s never completely consistent in terms of the films and the order. The most common is THIS list of amazing classics, but there’s also a handwritten list (recreated above by Open Culture), that throws some new ones into the mix.So, I’m thinking, we watch them all this weekend? Goovy.


American International Pictures

Rolling Thunder (1977)I might be missing something, but this is a pretty generic revenge thriller starring Tommy Lee Jones and William Devane. Devane’s a veteran who seeks revenge against the guys who broke into his house and killed his family. That’s not to say that it isn’t good; there’s a hand vs. garbage compactor scene that’s pretty horrific.The premise has been done a thousand times, and while the action is top notch and it’s incredibly violent, I’m too sure what makes it stand out more than Death Wish orStraw Dogs. Regardless, I’m sure he loves it for reasons we mere mortals cannot understand.



Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971)This mixture of dark comedy and murder mystery is the only writing credit of Gene Roddenberry; the creator of Star Trek. Starring Rock Hudson as a guidance counsellor who’s trying to nail as many beautiful students he can, before they all get murdered.This movie is so pitch black with humor, inappropriate moments and counter-culturalism that it’s perfect for Tarantino.


Universal Pictures

Sorcerer (1977)This road trip thriller from William Friedkin, is about some truckers trying to transport leaky dynamite across South America. This film can either be considered a lost cult-classic from the 70’s that completely underrated, or it’s an overblown travesty of cinema.You pick your side, but I’ll do with Tarantino on this one. I love me some gritty Roy Scheider.


Paramount Pictures

The Bad News Bears (1976)As far as a hilarious comedy goes, you can’t go wrong with this one. It’s crude, profane and angry, but genuinely funny. It also feels natural, because we can relate to the characters, their frustrations and their feelings.That’s probably why Tarantino loves it.


Gramercy Pictures

Dazed and Confused (1993)This coming-of-age comedy doesn’t really have a structure to it; it’s more of a series of loosely connected vignettes that tell you all you need to know about the teenage experience.This one is an unconventionally cool, drug-hazed, classic comedy.


United Artists

The Great Escape (1963)This is arguably one of the best and most beloved war movies ever made. The way the director evokes the performances out of his actors, shows where Tarantino learned how to wrangle his ensemble casts into some sort of shape.


Columbia Pictures

His Girl Friday (1940)If there’s any one movie you can thank for the way Tarantino writes dialogue, it’s this Howard Hawks classic. It’s got rapid fire sentences and ahead of it’s time gender-politics.Plus the chemistry in this film is so intense. Even if you’re not into older films, you need to see this one at least once.


United Artists

Carrie (1976)Out of all the other Stephen King adaptations out there, this Brian De Palma classic is the best. It’s tense, suspenseful and raw. That’s probably why Quentin loves it.


Warner Bros

Rio Bravo (1959)This Howard Hawks/John Wayne classic had a stacked cast and featured ‘The Duke’ as a lone cowboy fighting off corrupt ranchers. It’s the long, silent, and sweeping opening shot that attracts Tarantino to this film.



Blow Out (1981)This Brian De Palma film has John Travolta as a movie sound engineer, who accidentally records an assassination. It’s an underrated neo-noir thriller and takes a lot of cues from Alfred Hitchcock.


Shaw Brothers Studio

5 Fingers of Death/King Boxer (1972)You knew there had to be a Kung-Fu movie on here somewhere. As for why this one, I’m not sure. But it is a nice mix of Kung-Fu tropes and Grindhouse elements.



Pandora’s Box (1929)This silent film about a highly sexual woman was ahead of it’s time. There are a lot of twists and turns, murder, seduction, a lesbian subplot and a quiet cameo from Jack the Ripper.It’s a little fucked up for it’s time, and I think that’s the appeal for QT.


20th Century Fox

Unfaithfully Yours (1984)To be honest, there are two films with this title, this one a remake of an earlier screwball comedy from 1948, starring Rex Harrison.In both, a composer suspects his wife is cheating on him, so he hires someone to spy on her, and hijinks occur.


Paramount Pictures

5 Graves to Cairo (1943)This war film was directed by Billy Wilder, and involves the survivor of a British loss to General Rommel in the African Theatre of the war. This one is notable, because it’s both a war film and an adventure/treasure hunt film utilizing the Hitchcockian concept of the McGuffin.There are plenty of elements from this movie that you’ll find in Tarantino’s catalogue.


United Artists

Apocalypse Now (1979)This will always be considered one of the greatest films of all time, and it’s easy to see why. It takes the historic Joseph Conrad story and places it in a visually stunning hellhole.This was one of the worst wars in US history and this film blatantly captures all that nihilism and despair.


Universal Pictures

Jaws (1975)This one is also one of cinema’s greatest, and it’s because you don’t see Bruce the shark all that often. Spielberg lets your imagination go wild with the possibilities of the shark, and it’s brilliant.Add in that haunting monologue about the U.S.S Indianapolis, and you’ve got yourself a perfect film. It’s why everyone loves this classic.


Columbia Pictures

Taxi Driver (1976)This film is truly dark and gritty, and represents the feeling that a lot of vets found after Vietnam; a world they don’t understand anymore. You can tell how the way this film is lit, framed and scored, that it was a huge influence on Tarantino’s look.Scorcese is a master of cinema, so it’s pretty obvious that Quentin would list one of his best, in his list of bests.


United Artists

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966)While the other films in this list fluctuate based on the interview, this is the only one that’s always #1. Between the Mexican standoffs, the editing, and the camera angles, everything Tarantino learned about filmmaking, came from Sergio Leone.I could watch this movie as the only thing on repeat until I die, it’s that good.



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