Quentin Tarantino cites 'The Big Valley' and 'Bonanza' as inspirations behind his latest film
The director's new western was inspired by classic television. We're rounded up five episodes that serve as great examples.
Quentin Tarantino is a lover of the past. Well, perhaps a better way of putting it is that he believes in keeping good things alive. 70 mm film and veteran character actors like Michael Parks and Tom Wopat are not things of the past, just underutilized in an industry build around shiny new toys. As the multiplexes fill with CGI superheroes, Taratino has gone and made a western… in good old Ultra Panavision… with Kurt Russell and Bruce Dern. It was no surprise when a story recently broke that the director doesn't believe in Netflix and still records off his television with VHS tapes.
- 8/5 2:00PMThe Auld Sod"Town drunk Danny Lynch's letters written to his dear Irish mother tell her of his life as a wealthy Nevada rancher, and when the old lady comes to America to pay her son a surprise visit, Danny convinces the Cartwrights to let him pretend that he is the owner of the Ponderosa and they are the hired hands."
- 8/6 2:00PMGift of Water"A drought has ravaged the flat lands and Hoss stops to water at the Ganther farm where Jason Ganther is attempting to dig a well and get to water which he believes is just a few further feet down. Hoss decides to help him and they begin drilling for water. Meanwhile ranchers in the high country have started up a vigilante group to keep families from leaving the flat lands and settling in the high country where water is plentiful. Disgusted by the vigilantes the entire Cartwright family soon begins helping the Ganthers. Tensions mount between the two groups as the Cartwrights race against time to find the water before violence erupts."
- 8/7 2:00PMThe Jackknife"Searching for missing Ponderosa cattle, Adam Cartwright stops to aid injured rancher, Matt Grant, takes him home and stays to help his wife and son while he recovers. But Adam doesn't know that Matt is part of a gang of rustlers responsible for the missing cattle, and now that Adam can identify him, they want him dead before their next job. "
Yesterday, The New York Times Style Magazine published an interview of Tarantino by author Bret Easton Ellis. The two talked about modern cinema and the influences behind The Hateful Eight, the latest Tarantino film due out this Christmas. This passage reveals that he found inspiration in classic television westerns.
The idea came to him from watching classic TV shows such as ‘‘The Virginian,’’ ‘‘Bonanza’’ and ‘‘The Big Valley,’’ in which, he says, ‘‘There was always, each season, at least one episode where bandits take over the Ponderosa or Shiloh Ranch, and they’d all be played by guest stars. It couldn’t help but lend itself to a situation like ‘Reservoir Dogs’: Trap them all in a room and let me get rid of all the hero characters so there’s no moral center.’’ Which is precisely what happens in ‘‘The Hateful Eight,’’ during a terrible blizzard.
In fact, there's such an example on MeTV this weekend, the Rawhide episode "House of the Hunter." In that homage to Agatha Christie, Clint Eastwood's Rowdy character is kidnapped and held in a closed room with strangers.
To further aide your — and Quentin's — research, we've rounded up a posse of Big Valley and Bonanza episodes that capture that same feeling of closed-room suspense. Keep your eyes peeled or set reminders for when they'll air on MeTV.
The Big Valley "Earthquake!" During an earthquake a mission church collapses into a forgotten mine that lies under it. Victoria is trapped there with a pregnant indian woman and a man with a grudge
The Big Valley "The Invaders" A gang of rawhiders injures Heath, and then takes him to the ranch looking for a reward for “saving” him from ambush. While there, they realize the rest of the men folk are away, leaving the ranch vulnerable to their thievery.
The Big Valley "Court Martial" Armed men occupy the Barkley house, bent on punishing Nick’s former general for the destruction of an innocent town during the war. Jarrod convinces them to let the general and Nick give their side of the story.
Bonanza "Five Candles" Ben and three others are trapped when the floor of the courthouse collapses—and one of the men may be a murderer.
Bonanza "Any Friend of Walter's" Attacked by outlaws, Hoss takes cover in a prospector's shack with the old prospector and Walter, the old man's surprisingly communicative dog.