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.

Bonanza

  • 10/21 2:00PMThe Gentleman From New Orleans
    "Credible Hoss meets a flamboyant, sword-brandishing drunk claiming to be none other than the notorious pirate Jean LaFitte. Believing LaFitte is who he says he is and remembering that history considered him a patriot for his aid at the Battle of New Orleans, Hoss chooses to treat LaFitte like a hero and invites him to the Ponderosa. While skeptical Ben contacts old friends in New Orleans to try to verify his identity, LaFitte is accused of murder and Hoss must try to find not only the real killer but the answer to the question: who is Jean LaFitte?"
  • 10/22 2:00PMThe Cheating Game
    "Kathie Browne returns in the role of Laura Dayton, erstwhile sweetheart of Adam Cartwright. A smooth stranger named Ward Bannister (Peter Breck) arrives in town claiming that Laura's husband had willed her a fortune. Unaware that the duplicitous Bannister is harboring ulterior motives, Laura becomes attracted to the man, causing friction between herself and Adam."
  • 10/23 2:00PMBullet for a Bride
    "The Cartwrights play hosts to the Caldwell family, after the daughter, Tessa is blinded in a shooting accident. Joe feels that the only way to make amends (as he was the one who was responsible) is to propose to Tessa. She accepts but Ben soon finds out that the girl is hiding a secret."
*available in most MeTV markets

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.


 
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