On the night of August 8, 1969, Patricia Krenwinkel, Charles Watson, and Susan Atkins broke into Polanski's and Tate's house, leading to the murders of Tate (eight-and-a-half months pregnant), Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, and Abigail Folger. In the film, they go to Tate's house to commit the murders but instead end up breaking into Dalton's house after he interrupts them. Linda Kasabian went along that night as she was the only Family member with a valid driver's license, though she did not murder anyone and stayed outside the whole time. In the film, she also goes along but does not participate. Watson told his victims, "I'm the Devil, and I came to do the Devil's business." In the film, he says it to Cliff Booth. In the film, Atkins convinces the others to seek revenge by killing Rick Dalton, star of a TV western. Since TV taught them to kill, it is fitting they kill the guy from TV, and "My idea is to kill the people who taught us to kill!" In real life, Manson Family member Nancy Pitman said: "We are what you have made us. We were brought up on your TV. We were brought up watching Gunsmoke and Have Gun – Will Travel." Sandra Good said: "You want to talk about devils and demonic and immorals and evil, go to Hollywood. We don't touch the evil of that world. We don't even skim it."
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 85% based on 540 reviews, with an average rating of 7.84/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Thrillingly unrestrained yet solidly crafted, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tempers Tarantino's provocative impulses with the clarity of a mature filmmaker's vision." Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 83 out of 100, based on 62 critics, indicating "universal acclaim." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave it an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average of 4 out of 5 stars and a 58% "definite recommend."More Info
In February 1969, veteran Hollywood actor Rick Dalton, star of 1950s Western television series Bounty Law, fears his career is fading. Casting agent Marvin Schwarz recommends he make Spaghetti Westerns in Italy, which Dalton feels are beneath him. Dalton's best friend and stunt double, Cliff Booth—a war veteran skilled in hand-to-hand combat who lives in a tiny trailer with his pit bull, Brandy—drives Dalton around Los Angeles because Dalton's driver's license has been suspended due to his DUI arrests. Booth struggles to find stunt work in Hollywood because of rumors he murdered his wife. Actress Sharon Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski, have moved next door to Dalton, who dreams of befriending them to revive his declining acting career. That night, Tate and Polanski attend a celebrity-filled party at the Playboy Mansion.More Info
The Hollywood Reporter said critics had "an overall positive view," with some calling it "Tarantino's love letter to '60s L.A.," praising its cast and setting, while others were "divided on its ending." ReelViews' James Berardinelli awarded the film 3.5 stars out of 4, saying it was "made by a movie-lover for movie-lovers. And even those who don't qualify may still enjoy the hell out of it." RogerEbert.com's Brian Tallerico gave it four out of four stars, calling it "layered and ambitious, the product of a confident filmmaker working with collaborators completely in tune with his vision". The Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper described it as "a brilliant and sometimes outrageously fantastic mash-up of real-life events and characters with pure fiction," giving it full marks. Writing for Variety, Owen Gleiberman called it a "heady engrossing collage of a film—but not, in the end, a masterpiece." Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave it five out of five stars, praising Pitt and DiCaprio's performances and calling it "Tarantino's dazzling LA redemption song." Steve Pond of TheWrap said: "Big, brash, ridiculous, too long, and in the end invigorating, the film is a grand playground for its director to fetishize old pop culture and bring his gleeful perversity to the craft of moviemaking." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone awarded the film 4.5 out of 5 stars, remarking that "All the actors, in roles large and small, bring their A games to the film. Two hours and 40 minutes can feel long for some. I wouldn't change a frame."More Info
On the evening of August 8, 1969, their first day back in Los Angeles, Dalton and Booth go out for drinks to commemorate their time working together and then return to Dalton's house. Tate and Sebring go out for dinner with friends and then return to Tate's house. Booth smokes an LSD-laced cigarette purchased earlier from a hippy girl and takes Brandy for a walk while Dalton prepares drinks. Manson Family members Tex, Sadie, Flowerchild, and Katie arrive outside in preparation to murder everyone in Tate's house, but Dalton hears their loud car and orders them off his street. Recognizing Dalton, the Manson Family members change their plans and decide to kill him instead, after Sadie reasons that Hollywood has "taught them to murder". Flowerchild deserts the group, speeding off with their car. Breaking into Dalton's house, they confront Capucci and Booth inside. Booth recognizes them from his visit to Spahn Ranch and orders Brandy to attack. Together they kill Katie and Tex and injure Sadie, though Booth is stabbed, shot, and left unconscious during the altercation. Sadie stumbles outside, alarming Dalton, who was in his pool listening to music on headphones, oblivious to the melee inside. Dalton retrieves a flamethrower previously used in a movie and incinerates Sadie. After Booth is taken away by ambulance to receive treatment for his injuries, Sebring engages Dalton in conversation outside and Dalton receives an invitation for a drink with Tate and her friends at her house, which he accepts.More Info
For Bounty Law, Ling went for a dusty, dirty, early Deadwood look. Movie poster artist Steven Chorney created the poster for the film, as a reference to The Mod Squad. He also created the posters for Nebraska Jim, Operation Dyn-O-Mite, Uccidimi Subito Ringo Disse il Gringo, Hell-Fire Texas, and Comanche Uprising, which was reprinted for Dalton's home parking spot. Mad magazine caricaturist Tom Richmond created the covers of Mad and TV Guide featuring Dalton's Jake Cahill. Spahn Ranch was recreated in detail over about a three-month period.More Info
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