Greta Gerwig reduces Quentin Tarantino to tears with emotional speech
(Credit: Georges Biard)

Quentin Tarantino named his favourite VHS films of all time

While cinemas and theatres remain closed across the globe, we’re dipping back into the Far Out vault in a bid to get our film fix. As part of the BBC’s 1994 feature on the new hottest director in Hollywood, a young creative going by the name of Quentin Tarantino takes us on a tour of some of Los Angeles’ most treasured ground—Video Archives.

The video store (remember those kids?) acted as a proving ground of sorts for the young director. It was where he cut his teeth on what truly constituted a ‘great movie’. Tarantino excitedly takes the BBC through some of his favourite films and the joy of working at the store. He talks about how he got to advise on film choices and how they eventually moulded the viewing habits of Hollywood.

David Thompson is the man behind the lens in this in-depth look into the hottest name coming out of ‘Indiewood’. His previous subjects included the likes of Jean Renoir, Michael Powell, Vittorio Storaro and Peter Greenaway. This film traces the kid from Knoxville, Tennessee, as Tarantino moved to Los Angeles at the age of two. That same budding filmmaker went on to quit school at 15, study to be an actor and was soon penning at least two major scripts in True Romance and Natural Born Killers—all the while still working at Manhattan Beach’s Video Archives store in the latter half of the 1980s.

“Until I became a director it was the best job I ever had,” says Tarantino, bristling with so much youthful vigour that he can barely contain it. “I was a customer there and I really liked, and eventually he asked me if I wanted a job and I was like ‘yeah, it would be a dream’, and it was,” adds the Reservoir Dogs director as members of staff go on to share Tarantino’s star status in the store.

“This is one of the few places that Quentin could be a regular guy and come get a job and then become a star,” but he isn’t referring to space the job allowed Quentin to write. No, they mean the customers thought he, with his encyclopaedic pre-Google knowledge for cinema, was a bonafide star of the film business. He reflects, that in Hollywood “people want you to tell them what is good, what to like, what not to like” and it was a role Tarantino clearly relished.

As the footage progresses you get a very accurate picture of a director who is just hitting his stride. Returning to the store to do a signing for Reservoir Dogs video release Tarantino zooms around the store and selects his three “if I were going to be trapped on a desert island, and I could go to Video Archives before I got trapped these are the three films I would take,” and it’s a truly inspirational list.

First off, under the drama section, is Brian De Palma’s Blow Out which Quentin describes as “some of Brian De Palma’s finest film,” with the utmost admiration, before adding: “Which means it’s one of the greatest films ever made because as we all know Brian De Palma is one of the finest directors of his generation.” The next one up is, for any Tarantino fan, quite obviously a western.

Moving right along to the western section he finds Howard Hawks film Rio Bravo. He continues to muse over the cast and says “this is, as far as I’m concerned, another one of the finest films ever made.” He continues, “Dean Martin gives one of the finest performances ever”. As he moves on to his next selection he goes full modern-90s and selects a laserdisc.

He picks up a very special selection and lands on the masterpiece that is Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, a selection which is a naturally gorgeous piece of film paraphernalia for any movie junkie. Tarantino gushes over Harvey Keitel’s performance and hints at their upcoming happy union of director and actor.

The footage below shows Tarantino at the beginning of his journey. Only one picture into his predicted 10 film set, Tarantino is young and hungry, he bounces from speech to speech with the excited glee of a spaniel, narrowly missing making a puddle on the floor. The real joy comes when you remember that he’s still almost certainly the same today, 25 years on.

Watch below as Quentin Tarantino picks three of his favourite films while visiting Video Archives.

Quentin Tarantino’s 3 favourite VHS films:

  • Blow Out – Brian De Palma 1981.
  • Rio Bravo – Howard Hawks, 1959.
  • Taxi Driver – Martin Scorsese, 1976.
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