One of the things I love about period films is the chance they give to revive lost arts. I’ve worked on a few period movies including Racing with the Moon depicting California in 1942, and James Cameron’s Titanic, a film that set the standard for authentic recreations.
For Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the production restored several classic neon signs to their original glory, including touch-ups to the big neon soldier attached to the Supply Sergeant sign. This is great to see because tube benders have practically vanished since LEDs came on the scene.
The movie also gives new life to some great vintage cars, especially a 1966 Cadillac DeVille owned by Rick Dalton, a fading TV actor played by Leonardo DiCaprio. In the movie, some camera angles give the sensation that front end is monstrously long. By the way, the movie used the same DeVille driven by Michael Madsen in Reservoir Dogs.
Brad Pitt (as stuntman Cliff Booth) runs around in a sad-looking 1964 Karmann Ghia. Did you catch that this is the same make and model of the car Uma Thurman crashes in Kill Bill: Volume 2? She drove a 1973. For that movie, a shop in Wisconsin was commissioned to install a complete 993 drivetrain to add some power. They said the entire restoration was a massive project. Here is a video of the mechanics starting it up.
The story line loosely tells of the tragic murders of actress Sharon Tate Polanski and her house guests by “family members” of Charles Manson. Steven Butcher, the movie’s picture car coordinator, FOUND the actual Manson-follower car they drove to the Polanski home that night, a Ford Galaxie, from a private collector who was willing to rent it to the production, but that idea was too creepy, even for Tarantino.
The narrative is purposely not historically authentic because it blends truth and fiction. Still, there are factual nuances and accuracies deeply embedded into each scene to give audiences plenty to talk about for eons. Tarantino says Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a bit of all his movies rolled into one and this is the climax. By mid-point, I was so entertained I didn’t want the story to end. And the ending is vastly different than anything I could have predicted.