As Quentin Tarantino explained during his interview with Film Comment, the original structure for “True Romance” was a lot closer to that of “Reservoir Dogs.” Here’s what he had to say:
“If you break it into three acts, the structure they all worked under was: in the first act the audience really doesn’t understand what’s going on, they’re just getting to know the characters. The characters have far more information than the audience has. By the second act you start catching up and get even with the characters and then in the third act you now know far more than the characters know, you’re way ahead of the characters. That was the structure ‘True Romance’ was based on and you can totally apply that to ‘Reservoir Dogs.'”
In Tarantino’s rendition of “True Romance,” the audience would always be a step ahead or a step behind the main characters. Clarence and Alabama always try to stay a step ahead of their enemies but end up a step behind. It would have added an interesting layer to the viewing experience if the audience, too, was caught in this game of cat-and-mouse.
Tony Scott’s more direct narrative approach may have made the film more accessible, though. He had a Hollywood sensibility, through and through, — he directed “Top Gun,” for Pete’s sake. Scott was much more romantic than Tarantino, so he opted to tell a more romantic version of the story with a much more romantic ending. But were Scott’s choices purely commercial, or did his sentimentality pay off?