The Tribeca Film Festival celebrated the 25th anniversary of Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” with a special screening at the Beacon Theater Friday evening. Following the screening the film’s stars reunited for an epic panel that featured Tarantino, Michael Madsen, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth, moderated by entertainment writer Lynn Hirschberg.
Taking the stage for the panel, Tarantino told the crowd, “Except for all your cell phones you guys were a great audience.”
“Reservoir Dogs” is about a jewelry heist gone wrong. The crime is committed by a bunch of perfect strangers who only know each by their invented names, which are colors.
When Harvey Keitel came onboard to play Mr.White and also to be a producer, other top actors began to read the script and sign on.
But all the actors were from L.A. and in Tim Roth’s case English, so they decided they wanted one New York actor to round out the cast.
“One weekend I fly to New York,” said Tarantino. “Harvey was in first class. We were in coach. Harvey goes, ‘Yeah, you know, I guess in a perfect world there’d be no such thing as first class. Since there isn’t, I’m going to fly first class.’”
Tarantino said, ‘We met with a bunch of New York actors and that’s where we got Steve (Mr. Pink.)”
“I’m always reminding Steve Buscemi that he owes me his career,” Keitel said.
The movie debuted at Sundance. Asked how the first screening was received, Tarantino replied, “That was a disaster!” They didn’t have the right lens and the movie he said looked “like caca all the way through,” he said.
“That would be bad enough, but then it gets to the final climax when everyone’s yelling at each other, everyone’s got their guns pointed on everybody else, then all of sudden the lights come up and then they bring the lights down… almost as if on purpose…right at the height of that scene there’s a power outrage,” he said. “I was like, so this is what it’s like to watch your movie in public.”
The second week it was shown at the big industry screening and big names showed up, including Faye Dunaway and Sean Penn. “That screening went fantastic!” said Tarantino, with Dunaway even asking a question about composition.
The torture scene got everyone talking.
Tarantino said he had this big talk with Steve Buscemi about the torture scene. As everyone knows, it’s the iconic scene where Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde does his little dance and sings along to “Stuck In the Middle With You” holding a straight razor and then slices off an ear of a young cop tied to a chair.
“There was all this talk the next day about the torture scene,” Tarantino said. “It became this big, big thing and Steve goes, ‘Do you know what everyone’s saying. They’re saying the torture scene ruins the movie.’ I said what are you talking about? It’s the best thing in the f…king movie.”
The whole year the film was on the festival circuit Tarantino started to count the number of people in the audience who walked out during that torture scene.
The largest number of walkouts was 33 he said. At one festival screening, where they screened one of Peter Jackson’s earliest films, “Dead Alive,” characters were “drowning in zombie blood and guts. I thought, okay, I’ve got an audience that won’t walk out.” But five people walked out, he said, including Wes Craven. “The guy who did ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘The Last House on the Left,’ my movie is too tough for him.”
Tarantino said he took the film around the world for a year on the festival circuit. “I’m like being interviewed in different languages by different reporters, Japanese, Brazil… and every time they would start asking about the Mr. Blonde scene, they would talk about Mr. Blonde and every time they couldn’t help it, they always would do the dance,” laughed Tarantino. “For like three years everybody who talked about Mr. Blonde’s dance would pantomime the dance.”