Quentin Tarantino Had Trouble Selling Reservoir Dogs’ One-Room Setting

Hollywood has a long, proud history of adapting stage plays to the screen. For example, here’s a fun fact: the original 1931 Universal versions of “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” were largely based on stage versions of the classic novels rather than the novels alone!

Still, this proven history was apparently no help to Tarantino in getting “Reservoir Dogs” off the ground. As he told Film Comment in 1994, the film’s clear relationship to theatricality was an issue:

“That was actually a problem [when] trying to get the film made. People would read it and go, ‘Well, this isn’t a movie, this is a play, why don’t you try and do it in an Equity Waiver house?’ I was like, ‘No, no, no, trust me, it’ll be cinematic.’ I don’t like most film versions of plays, but the reason I had it all take place in that one room was because I figured that would be the easiest way to shoot something.”

Anyone who’s seen “Reservoir Dogs” knows that it hardly suffers from the stifling qualities that some stage play movie adaptations fall prey to. The Mr. Orange sequence alone proves that Tarantino wasn’t about to merely set up a master shot and let the actors run the show themselves. Moving the camera was always part of the plan, as Tarantino pointed out that “the most important thing was that it be cinematic.”

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