The Best Films You May Have Missed: True Romance
All too often I am asked the daunting question “What are your all time favorite movies?” Whle most people might stutter and stumble over their answers, I am fully prepared with my answers. Every now and again I will be met with huge grins and screams of “OH HELL YES THOSE FILMS ROCK!” but more often I am met with sheepish, confused looks followed by “I never heard of those… must have missed them”. It makes my heart hurt. How in the hell have you guys managed to see How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days but NOT A Scanner Darkly? No more. I am not having it. I am here to help you, mostly because I love you… also because you are clearly misguided. I will be going down the line of some oldies and goodies that you may have missed. First up is my all time favorite flick: True Romance.
Now dont let the sappy title confuse you; While I think True Romance is the most romantic film ever… it has more drugs and violence than your little heart can handle. The film follows two newlyweds: a comic book store clerk named Clarence Worley (Christian Slater), and fresh-faced call girl with the best wardrobe of all time, Alabama Whitmen (Patricia Arquette). After violently acquiring an accidental wedding gift from Alabama’s pimp (a suitcase of cocaine, instead of a suitcase of the ex-call girl’s clothes..whoops!) the two embark on a quest to Los Angeles in hopes of selling the drugs to a big Hollywood producer.
Of course nobody is going to notice that a big bag of cocaine is missing, and suddenly Clarence and Alabama find themselves being tailed by vicious gangster named Vincenzo Coccotti (mother f*cking Christopher Walken). Coccotti’s right hand man, Virgil, is played by a very young James Gandolfini, so be prepared to assume this flick has sort of a “Origins of Tony Soprano” vibe going on some of the time…
By the time Clarence and Alabama make it to Los Angeles, we are introduced to a whole new cast. There’s Clarence’s old buddy Dick Ritchie (Michael Rapaport), an aspiring actor who lives with his stoner roommate Floyd while waiting to make “his big break”. It’s the most important thing in the universe that I inform you that the “stoner roomate” is played by noneother than Brad Pitt. In fact, Pitt’s performance of Floyd is what inspired James Franco’s character in Pineapple Express. I AM BLOWING YOUR MIND WITH MOVIE KNOWLEDGE, FOOL.
If a 1993 Brad Pitt playing a stoner doesn’t have you scrambling for a copy of this film, maybe this list of other A-list actors will convince you to check out True Romance:
Dennis Hopper–Clifford Worley, Clarence’s estranged father, and retired police officer. This dude has one of THE BEST/ABSURD/RACIST monologues ever with Vincenzo Coccotti, in a scene that reeks of Tarantino.
Val Kilmer–Elvis. Yes, Elvis. You see, Clarence is kind of an Elvis super-fan of sorts. Whenever he needs to pump himself up–usually before a big fight or violent confrontation–he talks to Elvis. Sure the kid’s crazy, but he’s in love, so it’s cute… right?
Gary Oldman– Drexl Spivey, a pimp who seems to be confused about his ethnicity, providing a confusing and hilarious character, despite his high threat of danger.
Tom Sizemore and Chris Penn– Nicky Dimes and Cody Nicholson (yes that’s really their names), partners in the LAPD, who are trailing the big coke deal that’s about to go down. Ironic, what with the casting and all… Hilarious nonetheless.
True Romance was initially in the same script as what we now know as Natural Born Killers. Penned by Quentin Tarentino and Roger Avery, the original script The Open Road was sort of a movie within a movie. While we followed Clarence and Alabama on their trip to Los Angeles from Detroit, Clarence writes a script following the violent Mickey and Mallory Knox. Whenever Clarence and Alabama hit some sort of obstacle, or were down on their luck, he’d write more violent outbursts for Mickey and Mallory in their parallel universe. Hollywood legend has it that Tarantino and Avery needed cash to make Pulp Fiction, and since nobody wanted to deal with 500 page script they split the stories, selling Natural Born Killers to Oliver Stone, and True Romance to Tony Scott.
True Romance culminates with a bloody showdown at the Ambassador Hotel, between the Hollywood d-bags buying the cocaine, the police squad, and a ton of gangsters. It’s loud, it’s violent, it’s so romantic. Do Clarence and Alabama make it out alive? Invite your sweetheart over for a “date night movie”, and find out!