5. The Influence of Kung Fu Films on Kill Bill
When Mickey and Clifford are fighting over Misty, they get into this ridiculous kung fu fight, intentionally played for laughs. It even makes fun of the stupid bird and crane move Ralph Macchio made famous in The Karate Kid when Clifford tries to it, but Mickey punches Clifford in the face with ease.
Kung Fu films from the 1970s were a huge influence on Tarantino, most obviously in Kill Bill: Volume 1 in the climatic fight scene between Uma Thurman and the Crazy 88. There is absolutely no doubt that same influence inspired the fight over Misty.
6. True Romance’s “I’d Fuck Elvis” Speech
Who could forget the classic opening scene of True Romance where Christian Slater’s Clarence is chatting up with girl at the bar by ranting about Elvis Presley, how cool he was, and how if he had to have sex with another man, it would be Elvis. There’s a very similar scene in My Best Friend’s Birthday, where Tarantino’s Clarence is buying a birthday cake for Mickey and starts discussing both Elvis’s music and film career.
It’s nearly word for word the same speech that is heard in True Romance, except he’s preaching to Bill, the burly guy at the cake store. Just imagine what he thought of some dude telling him he’d be willing to have sex with The King. Tarantino’s hairdo in this film is basically a 1980s version of Elvis’s famous hairdo.
7. Aldo Raine Reference
Clarence calls Cecilia, the girl he’s seeing, despite her having a boyfriend. Cecilia is on the phone to her psychiatrist, but gets a second call with a phone operator saying that Aldo Ray wants to talk to her.
Hearing the name of a movie star from the 1950s gets her attention, so she takes the call. It is Clarence playing a prank on her, who adds, “Who were you expecting, Aldo Ray?”
Although this is a very brief moment, it is very telling that Tarantino chose Aldo Ray out of all the names he could have picked, as Aldo Raine is the name of Brad Pitt’s character in Inglourious Basterds. Aldo Raine is a combination of Aldo Ray and the character Charles Rane, a war veteran in the 1970s action film Rolling Thunder.
A popular theory is that in the Tarantino Universe, Raine is the great-grandfather of Floyd, the stoner in True Romance, who was also played by Brad Pitt.
8. Extensive Pop Culture Discussions
What makes Quentin Tarantino’s films truly stand out is the distinctive dialogue. Those familiar with his films will immediately recognise this style of witty dialogue and the extensive discussions on pop culture, and My Best Friend’s Birthday is no exception.
When Clarence is interviewing the head of the Johnny Cochran fan club, he states that the day Cochran died, his three-year-old self suddenly felt depressed for no reason and wanted to kill himself. He said he decided to watch an episode of The Partridge Family that cheered him up.
In the aforementioned scene where the original version of the “I’d fuck Elvis” speech appears, Clarence and Bill compare Elvis’s music to the Beatles’ many hits. They argue over whether Elvis was a good actor, with Clarence thinking he was great, whereas Bill thought his acting was “a lost cause.”
Later on, Clarence asks Misty why she became a callgirl. She explains that when she was younger, she had no idea what she wanted to do with her life, until she watched the film Dressed To Kill. After she and Clarence talk about how much they loved that film, Misty says she was specifically inspired by Nancy Allen’s performance as a callgirl in it, and that is what made her decide to pursue that line of work.
9. My Best Friend’s Birthday was the Basis for True Romance and Natural Born Killers
Despite having elements of various future Tarantino movies, My Best Friend’s Birthday is mostly similar to True Romance, because True Romance was based on this film. After he gave up on finishing My Best Friend’s Birthday, Tarantino decided to rewrite his screenplay, which ended up becoming True Romance.
In My Best Friend’s Birthday, Clarence hires a hooker named Misty for his best friend Mickey’s birthday, although Clarence ends up getting together with Misty himself. But in True Romance, Clarence’s boss at the comic book store hires a hooker named Alabama to spend the night with Clarence, and they fall in love. They decide to become a real couple, which pisses off Misty’s pimp Clifford, much like Drexl in True Romance.
Tarantino wanted to film True Romance himself, but did not have the means to do, so he sold the screenplay to Tony Scott, the director of Hollywood blockbusters such as Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop II. Tarantino used this money to fund Reservoir Dogs. Scott also wanted to purchase Reservoir Dogs to film as well, but Tarantino said he could only buy one screenplay.
My Best Friend’s Birthday also inspired Natural Born Killers, another action film about a hopelessly in love couple facing violent circumstances. After Tarantino also sold that screenplay, director Oliver Stone rewrote it to make it a dark, psychedelic satire on the media’s glorification of serial killers. Tarantino did not approve of these changes, but he had no say in how that movie was made.
Although Reservoir Dogs is the film that truly started not only Tarantino’s career, but exposed his signature style of filmmaking, it is My Best Friend’s Birthday where Tarantino honed his craft and started his journey.
Author Bio: Matt Wilson is a professional writer from Melbourne, Australia. His passion for cinema has always been a part of him and he aspires to be a screenwriter or a novelist. He particularly enjoys the films of Michael Cimino, Oliver Stone, Stanley Kubrick, Paul Verhoeven, David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino.