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True Romance

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True Romance movie poster Directed by Tony ScottProduced by Bill Unger
Samuel HadidaWritten by Quentin TarantinoStarring Christian Slater
Patricia Arquette
Dennis Hopper
Val Kilmer
Gary Oldman
Michael Rapaport
Bronson Pinchot
Saul Rubinek
Chris Penn
Tom Sizemore
Brad Pitt
James Gandolfini
Christopher WalkenMusic by Hans ZimmerCinematography Jeffery L. Kimball Editing by Michael Tronick
Christian Wagner Distributed by Warner Bros.Release date(s) September 10, 1993Running time 121 min Country  United StatesLanguage EnglishBudget $12,500,000 Allmovie profileIMDb profile

True Romance is a 1993 American film directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino. It stars Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette with an ensemble cast; the film contains notable performances by some seasoned actors along with early appearances by later stars. It is billed as a "love story", albeit an unconventional one, as the plot revolves around drugs and violence. Clarence Worley (Slater) and Alabama Whitman (Arquette) attempt to start a new life for themselves using cocaine stolen from Alabama's former pimp and find themselves on the run from the Mafia, ending in a dramatic double-crossing when the police get involved.

True Romance was a breakthrough of sorts for Tarantino. It was his first screenplay, and he had hoped to direct the movie himself, but ended up selling the script.

Also notable is the film's score, by Hans Zimmer: its leitmotif is based on a familiar piece by Carl Orff.



Clarence Worley (Slater) is watching a Sonny Chiba triple feature in a theater on his birthday when Alabama (Arquette) walks in late and sits directly behind him. She proceeds to spill popcorn all over him, then jumps in the seat next to him and asks what she has missed in the movie. They leave playfully joking around, enjoying one another's company. Alabama invites Clarence for pie. They go to the diner and get to know each other. After taking Alabama to see his place of work, a comic book store, they then go back to Clarence's place and make love. When Clarence wakes up, he sees Alabama sitting outside. She confesses to him that she is a call girl, set up for him by his boss, and confesses her love for him. Clarence is in love with her as well - and they proceed to get married the next day.

Clarence has a vision of Elvis Presley (Val Kilmer), who convinces him that he needs to get rid of Alabama's pimp. He decides to pay a visit to Alabama's former pimp, Drexl (Gary Oldman), to get her belongings. Clarence refuses Drexl's offer to sit down, instead handing him an empty envelope "to buy himself peace of mind." A fight breaks out, and Clarence is swiftly subdued by Drexl and his doorman Marty. Drexl takes Clarence's driver's license and orders Marty to drive to his address and collect Alabama. While he is distracted, Clarence pulls a concealed gun and shoots them both. Clarence orders Drexl's other girls to pack up Alabama's things, and then escapes (unknowingly leaving his ID behind).

Clarence gets back and he discovers that he has taken the wrong suitcase: the one he has is full of cocaine. Clarence and Alabama then visit Clarence's estranged father (Dennis Hopper), a former cop. Clarence asks him to find out if the police are looking for him; his father reports that the crime has been resolved as a gang warfare incident. Clarence departs on good terms, telling his father that he is leaving for California to visit his friend Dick (Michael Rapaport) in Hollywood. However, Clarence's lost ID allows Drexl's Mob employer, Vincent Coccotti (Christopher Walken), to track down Clarence's father and obtain Clarence's whereabouts.

In Hollywood, Clarence shows Dick the cocaine and arranges through Dick's friend Elliot (Bronson Pinchot) to meet with an esteemed movie producer named Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek), who is interested in purchasing it. They meet Elliot at a theme park; the discussions with Elliot make Clarence uncomfortable, so he has Elliot call Donowitz, whom Clarence arranges to meet. Elliot asks for a sample and goes on a drive; Elliot is caught in possession by the police, and detectives Nicholson (Tom Sizemore) and Dimes (Chris Penn) convince Elliot to tell them about Clarence's upcoming deal; he offers to wear a wire at the meeting in order to stay out of jail.

Tipped off by Floyd (Brad Pitt), Virgil (James Gandolfini), one of Coccotti's men, tracks down Clarence and Alabama at the Hollywood Safari Inn. When Alabama arrives alone while Clarence is getting hamburgers, Virgil attempts to beat the suitcase's location out of her. After tearing the room apart Virgil eventually finds the coke under the bed; as Virgil prepares to finish her off, Alabama manages to subdue him with improvised weaponry, grab his gun and kill him; when Clarence arrives he and Alabama flee with the cocaine.

At the meeting, Donowitz (protected by a pair of heavily armed guards) buys Clarence's story and agrees to make the deal. When Clarence goes to the bathroom, the police burst in to make the arrest. Lee's bodyguards hate cops and want to kill them; as the intensity builds, Coccotti's men then enter the room demanding their coke back. When one of the officers uses Elliot's name, Donowitz realizes Elliot is working with the police. In a moment of anger, Donowitz splashes a pot of hot coffee in Elliot's face and everyone starts firing. In the ensuing chaos, Donowitz, Elliot and the majority of the cops and mobsters are killed. Clarence walks out of the bathroom and is shot in the eye. Dick throws the suitcase of cocaine in the air, allowing himself enough time to escape. In the aftermath, Alabama is able to revive Clarence and get him out of the room which is about to be covered in cops. They grab the money, escape the police and get away. The movie ends with Clarence and Alabama on a beach in Cancún with their new son Elvis.


The script for Natural Born Killers had been sold when Tarantino was introduced to director Tony Scott. Tarantino was a big fan of Scott's Revenge. Scott read both True Romance and Reservoir Dogs and wanted to direct both, but Tarantino was already set to direct Reservoir Dogs, so Scott took the other. Other than the ending (Clarence was shot dead during the climactic Mexican Standoff in the script) and the ordering of the scenes, Scott's film uses Tarantino's original script.

Originally the screenplay began with the same "I'd fuck Elvis" scene, set before the opening credits, as the release. But the first scene in Tarantino's script is the scene where Drexl steals the cocaine. After that, the next scene was Clarence and Alabama showing up at Clarence's father's home, from which point the scene order is the same up to where Clarence and Alabama meet Dick, which ends Act I. Dick asks how they met, which leads to the theater scene, marriage, and killing of Drexl and mistaken stealing of the cocaine. Act III begins with the scene where Dick sees the cocaine, after which the scripts converge.

Tarantino, in the commentary on the unrated director's cut DVD, mentions how this structure to the three acts results in the characters in the movie knowing everything in Act I while the audience doesn't know anything; the audience catches up in Act II, and the audience knows more than the characters in Act III. This is a method commonly used in Tarantino's works.


True Romance is notable for its ensemble cast. Featured actors who were popular at the time of production include Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson. Other actors featured had yet to achieve the peak of their fame at the time, including Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini. Jack Black had a role as a movie theater attendant in a deleted scene.

Notably, some of the appearances by the supporting cast are very brief. Christopher Walken appears in only one scene, but gives a very memorable speech (as he would do in Tarantino's Pulp Fiction); Gary Oldman appears in only two scenes, albeit featuring a memorable dialogue with Christian Slater in the latter; Val Kilmer's face is never even seen in focus; Samuel L. Jackson's part was mostly edited out, though the full performance is included as a deleted scene on the 2-disc unrated director's cut DVD. Brad Pitt's character, in his few scenes, is never sober.


Reviews for the film were largely positive. Out of the 36 reviews collected on Rotten Tomatoes, 32 are certified "Fresh" or positive.[1]

Phil Villarreal of the Arizona Daily Star called it "one of the most dynamic action films of the 1990s."[2] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave it three stars, saying "it's Tarantino's gutter poetry that detonates True Romance. This movie is dynamite."[3]

Roger Ebert gave the film a somewhat mixed review, but also said that "the energy and style of the movie are exhilarating", and that "the supporting cast is superb, a roll call of actors at home in these violent waters: Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper and Brad Pitt, for example."[4] A negative review by The Washington Post's Richard Harrington claimed the film was "stylistically visceral" yet "aesthetically corrupt".[5]

The Sicilian scene

Clarence's father, Clifford Worley (Dennis Hopper), is paid an unwelcome visit by Vincent Coccotti (Christopher Walken), consigliere to a Mafia boss named "Blue" Lou Boyle. Coccotti questions Worley as to the whereabouts of Clarence and the missing narcotics. Clifford realizes during the interrogation that he will be tortured until he gives the information. Apparently to deliberately provoke and enrage Coccotti, ensure a quick death, and protect his son, Worley brings up Sicilians' background. Worley is quoting history on the claim of Sicilian people having Black people's ancestry through the Moors or, as Hopper puts it in the movie: "Sicilians were spawned by niggers." This speech is the precursor to Worley's death.

This scene has been nominated by Tarantino himself (on the True Romance Unrated Director's Cut DVD commentary) as one of his proudest moments. "I had heard that whole speech about the Sicilians a long time ago, from a black guy living in my house. One day I was talking with a friend who was Sicilian and I just started telling that speech. And I thought: “Wow, that is a great scene, I gotta remember that.”

In an interview with MOJO magazine in September 2006 Walken commented on his genuine friendship with Hopper implying that this helped create the warmth that exists between the otherwise antipathetic characters: "we really like each other, but I kill him anyway." He also expressed admiration for the Tarantino dialogue which was too good to improvise around, instead being delivered meticulously as scripted.

On an episode of "Inside the Actors Studio", Hopper was questioned by one of the film students if "the Sicilian scene" was scripted or improvised. After laughing for a moment, Hopper replied that the scene was mostly done as scripted, and the only part that was improvised was the "eggplant" and "cantaloupe" remarks.

This scene has been colloquially named the Sicilian scene and become a cult favorite - and is included in Tarantino's original script.[6] The dialogue from the scene can be found in wikiquote.


Drexl Spivey uses a line from Reservoir Dogs when referring to the Chinese food claiming he has, "everything from a diddle-eyed Joe to a damned-if-I-know." In Reservoir Dogs, officer Holdaway, talking with Freddy Newendyke a.k.a. Mr. Orange, says, "Well, if this crook's a Brewers fan, his ass has gotta be from Wisconsin. And I'll bet you everything from a diddle-eyed Joe to a damned-if-I-know, that in Milwaukee they got a sheet on this Mr. White motherfucker's ass."

Drexl is not the only Tarantino character to sport the surname "Spivey." A Marsellus Spivey was mentioned in passing in Reservoir Dogs (not to be confused with Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction).


  1. ^ Rotten Tomatoes: True Romance
  2. ^ Phil Villarreal's Review: True Romance
  3. ^ Rolling Stone: True Romance
  4. ^ True Romance
  5. ^ Washington Post: True Romance
  6. ^ True Romance

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: True Romance v • d • eFilms directed by Tony Scott

Loving Memory (1969) • The Hunger (1983) • Top Gun (1986) • Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) • Revenge (1990) • Days of Thunder (1990) • The Last Boy Scout (1991) • True Romance (1993) • Crimson Tide (1995) • The Fan (1996) • Enemy of the State (1998) • Spy Game (2001) • Man on Fire (2004) • Domino (2005) • Déjà Vu (2006) • The Warriors (2008) •Emma's War (2008) • The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009)

v • d • eFilms of Quentin TarantinoWritten & directed Reservoir Dogs • Pulp Fiction • Four Rooms • Jackie Brown • Kill Bill • GrindhouseDeath Proof • Inglorious Bastards • Come Drink with MeWritten True Romance • Natural Born Killers • From Dusk Till DawnAbandoned My Best Friend's Birthday • The Vega Brothers v • d • eAmerican films of the 1990s  •1990 •1991 •1992 •1993 •1994 •1995 •1996 •1997 •1998 •1999 Categories: 1993 films | Crime thriller films | Road movies | Films directed by Tony Scott | Warner Bros. films | Mafia films | American films | Heist films | Films set in Michigan | Films set in California | Films shot anamorphicallyHidden category: Articles needing additional references from October 2007

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