Richard Roeper Blog

Producer/Director Tony Scott’s Legacy

Nearly every tribute to Tony Scott mentioned “Top Gun” first–but for me Mr. Scott’s most influential, most entertaining and most enduring legacy will always be:
You’re so cool.
You’re so cool.
You’re so cool.

That’s what Patricia Arquette’s Alabama writes on a napkin to let Christian Slater’s Clarence know exactly how she feels in the Quentin Tarantino-scripted “True Romance,” Scott’s wickedly funny, blood-saturated, eminently quotable cult classic from 1993.

This is the movie that gave us Brad Pitt as the bound-to-the-sofa stoner who hollers after his roommate, “Get some beer! And…some cleaning products.”

The movie that gave us Val Kilmer as Elvis in the mirror, advising Clarence at key moments his harrowing journey.

The movie that gave us one of the great politically incorrect showdowns in movie history, with Dennis Hopper delivering an unspeakably offensive monologue about the Moors to Christopher Walken in an effort to goad Walken into killing him before Hopper can be tortured into revealing information about his son Clarence’s whereabouts.

“I’m the anti-Christ,” Walken tells Hopper. “You got me in a vendetta kind of mood. You tell the angels in heaven you never seen evil so singularly personified as you did in the face of the man who killed you.”

The dialogue is pure Tarantino. The staging of the scene, the tension in that trailer as Hopper realizes he’s dead as the dead-eyed Walken tells him his broken nose is “as good as it’s gonna get,” the perfect pacing, the lighting, the camera angles–that’s brilliant teamwork, led by the director.

It is one of the many near-perfect scenes in “True Romance,” which features everyone from James Gandolfini to Samuel L. Jackson to Gary Oldman in key supporting roles. Whether it’s Clarence rescuing Alabama from her pimp in a violent shootout, stone-faced gangsters trying to extract information from the stoned and amused Floyd, Gandolfini’s evil henchman Virgil trying to end Alabama, or that final standoff with the pillow feathers flying everywhere as the bodies pile up, this is a movie with one indelible image after another–images we’ve seen replicated in dozens of films over the last 20 years.

When your work duties include watching a couple hundred films every year, nearly every day someone will ask you, “What’s your favorite movie?” or some variation thereof. Last year, an actress who has been in a dozen movies asked me, “What movie posters do you have hanging in your office?”

I told her I have a few different workspots, featuring artwork from “The Godfather,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Reservoir Dogs,” “Goodfellas.”

But there’s only one movie represented in both my work and home offices.

“True Romance.” It’s so cool, it’s so cool.

It’s so cool.

3 Responses to “Producer/Director Tony Scott’s Legacy”

  1. Donald Liebenson Says:

    Nothing cool, on the other hand, about William Windom, who passed away yesterday. Just a great character actor, a pro, who elevated every scene he was in. I hope you’ll remember him in print as well. I remember a column you wrote years ago about perhaps his finest hour, “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” on “Night Gallery.” I once sat next to his costar Diane Baker at a banquet and she told me that episode was one of her credits that she is asked about most.

  2. Caroline Says:

    With all the sad and shock surrounding Tony Scott suicide, I can’t believe how happy I was to read your post about his death. You brought me right back to that wonderful day we caught an early showing of ‘True Romance’ at the Ziegfield on the West Side. Just magical.
    A great critic honors a great movie. It’s so cool.

  3. Ron Burgess Says:

    I’m going to miss Tony Scott as well. If I were to make a list of the “10 coolest movies of all-time”, I’m pretty sure True Romance would have to be numero uno.

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