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Teasing the Tarantino Dialogue Out of 'Crimson Tide'

Nov 9, 2017

Crimson Tide

Written by Scott Willson

Aside from the wanton, gratuitous violence and an alarmingly cavalier use of the N-word, ex-Blockbuster Video store manager Quentin Tarantino has always trademarked his screenplays with cool, conversational dialogue laden with disagreements over film, TV, music and comic book trivialities.

In what is effectively a dry run for his signature style of writing, this obsession with pop culture can be traced all the way back to the god damn prologue of Tarantino's brilliant debut feature: RESERVOIR DOGS.

It seems that, back in 1984 we all misunderstood the true meaning of Madonna's hit single 'Like a Virgin'.

Overcome with a fierce desire for one of his characters to share some insight into a so-called "metaphor for big dicks", our boy Q.T. decides that it can only be he, himself that delivers this career table setting monologue. 

Reservoir Dogs Coffee Shop

In a similar fashion, PULP FICTION kicks off with a discussion between mob hitmen Jules and Vincent - "What do they call a Quarter Pounder in Paris?" - a segment that ultimately does nothing more than juxtapose the detached, nonchalant nature in which these assholes carry out their brutal killings.

And then there is the foot massage shit. I don't have the stomach to even dare analyze Quentin Tarantino's nasty foot fetish here.

Pulp Fiction Foot Massage

After establishing a solid Bro-ship with Tony Scott during the production of the world's finest BADLANDS ripoff: TRUE ROMANCE, it only became a matter of time before Tarantino would be called upon again.

So when the script for the Naval submarine thriller CRIMSON TIDE came in, everybody knew the one thing missing was a comprehensive debate over the justification of $5.00 milkshakes. The solution was obvious. Quentin Tarantino needed to give the screenplay a nice little pop culture punch-up.

Or, as Q.T. likes to call it: "the ol' Royale with Cheese".

The strong scent of Tarantino dialogue first makes an entrance as James Gandolfini's character Dougherty enjoys a submarine movie trivia quiz with "Wepps" aka Aragorn aka Viggo Mortensen.

Crimson Tide Sub Movie Trivia

Tarantino takes this opportunity to name drop some of his favourite old-school actors and the submarine movies that likely lined the walls of his beloved Blockbuster video outlet.

Crimson Tide Script 1

Pretty good I guess, if completely disposable. It's not difficult to imagine Naval Officers as fans of the WWII submarine movie genre though.

Here is "the guy with the ears and the little moustache". (BTW, it's actually Clark Gable).

Clark Gable - Run Silent, Run Deep

However, in what is easily the highest profile Tarantino dialogue sighting in CRIMSON TIDE, one needs to look no further than a furious scuffle that occurs in the galley between Petty Officer Rivetti played by Jack Dawson sidekick Danny Nucci, and some meathead named Bennefield.

Evidently, all the producers knew about this section of the film was that two crewmates get into a fight for some reason and Denzel Washington's character Hunter needs to demonstrate his likable leadership style.

"HEY QUENTIN! What are these two characters fighting about?"

Silver Surfer comics of course! More specifically, whether or not the original Jack Kirby style is superior to the Mœbius version.

Confronting Rivetti, Hunter inquires as to the nature of the fisticuffs.

Crimson Tide Script 2

Crimson Tide Script 2.2

Some stankyyy Tarantino dialogue isn't it? It can't be denied that giving a sporadically placed loudspeaker to Tarantino's unmistakable voice does frequently come across as disingenuous, and it is somewhat hard to buy Denzel Washington's Hunter as an actual comic book fan.

This exchange does come back around for some decent payoff, as Rivetti later gets a solid punch to Bennefield's nose and gives him an appropriate nickname of "Mœbius".

You be the judge. Here is the Kirby version of Silver Surfer:

Silver Surfer - Kirby

And here is the style employed by Mœbius aka Jean Giraud.

Silver Surfer - Moebius

I guess it is blasphemy to badmouth the fabled Jack Kirby, creator of every superhero on earth, however the Mœbius shit looks off the chainnnn. 

Finally, we have by far the laziest and most shoehorned pop culture reference of the entire film in which Hunter desperately needs Petty Officer Vossler to fix the radio. With seemingly no way to interact with his crew other than via film & TV nostalgia, we get this painful exchange.

Crimson Tide Script 3

Just ghastly, juvenile shit really.

So are you happy with Tarantino's additions to the CRIMSON TIDE script? Do they add anything to the overall story or tone of the movie? Rumours are, Denzel Washington certainly wasn't happy. But this was primarily due to Tarantino's startling comfort level for dropping N-Bombs. This is a TMZ-style tale for another day perhaps.

It must be mentioned that the legendary Robert Towne was also emergency dialed in the middle of the night for last minute screenplay polishes which, primarily include an exquisitely philosophical and politically charged dinner scene. Strong candidate for the best dialogue in the entire film. With all due respect to Q-Tar, of course.

In the end, we can make no mistake, Quentin Tarantino is a lyrical wordsmith and a vital lens through which pop culture can reflect back on itself. His voice is distinctly American and forever steeped in a loving awareness of nostalgic influences that comes through in all of his work.

Now let's all go to Big Kahuna Burger.  


Keep it Vertical kids!