Archive footage from many films is included in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, including C.C. and Company, Lady in Cement, Three in the Attic, and The Wrecking Crew, in which Sharon Tate appears as Freya Carlson. Three scenes were digitally altered, replacing the original actors with Rick Dalton. One from an episode of The F.B.I., entitled "All the Streets Are Silent," in which Dalton appears as a character originally portrayed by Burt Reynolds. Another from Death on the Run, with Dalton's face imposed over Ty Hardin's. The third is from The Great Escape, with Dalton appearing as Virgil Hilts, the role made famous by Steve McQueen. For The 14 Fists of McCluskey, a WWII film within the film starring Dalton, footage and music from Hell River is used. Additionally, Martin Abrahams, Brioni Farrell, Victor Freitag, Nancy Kwan, Dean Martin, Hannes Messemer, Gordon Mitchell, Rod Taylor, Burt Ward, and Adam West appear via archive footage and sound.
Rick Dalton is an actor who starred in the fictitious television western series Bounty Law, based on the real-life series Wanted Dead or Alive, starring Steve McQueen. Dalton's relationship with Cliff Booth is based on Burt Reynolds' with his longtime stunt double Hal Needham. Dalton was inspired by actors whose careers began in Classical Hollywood but faltered in the 1960s, such as Ty Hardin, who went from starring in a successful TV western to making spaghetti westerns, as well as by Ralph Meeker. Though not mentioned in the film, Dalton apparently suffers from undiagnosed bipolar disorder, inspired by Pete Duel.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
Tarantino told cinematographer Robert Richardson, "I want it to feel retro but I want it to be contemporary." Richardson shot in Kodak 35mm with Panavision cameras and lenses, in order to weave time periods. For Bounty Law they shot in black and white, and brief sequences in Super 8 and 16mm Ektachrome. In the film, Lancer was shot on a retrofitted Western Street backlot at Universal Studios, designed by Ling. Richardson crossed Lancer with Alias Smith and Jones for the retro-future look Tarantino wanted. The way they filmed Lancer was not possible in 1969, but Tarantino wanted his personal touch on it. Richardson said that filming the movie touched him personally, "The film speaks to all of us... We are all fragile beings with a limited time to achieve whatever it is we desire... that at any moment that place will shift... So take stock in life and have the courage to believe in yourself."More Info
To film at the Pussycat Theater, production designer Barbara Ling and her team covered the building's LED signage and reattached the theater's iconic logo, rebuilding the letters and neon. Ling said the lettering on every marquee in the film is historically accurate. To restore Larry Edmund's Bookshop, she reproduced the original storefront sign and tracked down period-appropriate merchandise, even recreating book covers. For the Bruin and Fox Village theaters Ling's team restored the theaters, their marquees, and the storefronts around them. Stan's Donuts, across the street from the Bruin, got a complete makeover.More Info
The scenes involving the Tate–Polanski house were not filmed at Cielo Drive, the winding street where the 3,200 square-foot house once stood. The original house was razed in 1994 and replaced with a mansion nearly six-times the size. Scenes involving the Tate-Polanski house were filmed at three different locations around Los Angeles: one for the interior scenes, one for the scenes showing the exterior of the old house, and a Universal City location for the many scenes depicting the iconic cul-de-sac driveway.More Info
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