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Jackie Brown is a 1997 crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. It is an adaptation of the novel Rum Punch by American novelist Elmore Leonard, but reworks it to create an homage to 1970s blaxploitation films. The film stars Pam Grier, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson, Bridget Fonda and Michael Keaton. It was Tarantino's tenth film following his successes with Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994), among others.

Grier and Forster were both veteran actors but neither had performed a leading role in many years. Jackie Brown revitalized both actors' careers. The film garnered Forster an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and Jackson and Grier were nominated for Golden Globe Awards.

Plot

Set in Los Angelesmarker in 1995, Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is a flight attendant for a small Mexican airline, the latest step down for her career in the airline industry. Despite the low pay, the job enables her to smuggle money from Mexico into the United States for Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), a gun runner under the close watch of the A.T.F..

Ordell learns that another of his workers, Beaumont Livingston (Chris Tucker), has been arrested and, fearing that he will become an informant in order to avoid jail time, Ordell arranges for Beaumont's bail and murders him. Acting on information Beaumont had indeed shared, A.T.F. agent Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) and L.A.P.D. Detective Mark Dargus (Michael Bowen) catch Jackie as she arrives in the U.S. with Ordell's cash and some cocaine that Brown was unaware was stashed along with the cash. She initially refuses to deal with Nicolette and Dargus, and is sent to jail on possession of drugs with intent to sell.

Ordell, sensing Jackie may be just as likely to inform as Beaumont had been, arranges to bail her out. He returns to Max Cherry (Robert Forster), the same bail bondsman he used to arrange Beaumont's release, to bail out Brown. Cherry arranges for Jackie's bail and, only partly masking his physical attraction, offers to help her determine her legal options. Later that night, Ordell arrives at Jackie's house in order to murder her, but using a gun she stole from Cherry, Jackie cuts a deal whereby she will pretend to help the authorities while still managing to smuggle $500,000 of Ordell's money, enough to allow him to retire.

To carry out this plan, Ordell employs several others, a woman he lives with, Melanie Ralston (Bridget Fonda), Louis Gara (Robert De Niro), his friend and former cellmate, and a naïve Southern girl, Sheronda (Lisa Gay Hamilton). With Jackie's help Nicolette arranges a sting to catch Ordell, though Jackie and Ordell plan to double cross him by diverting the actual money before Ray makes an arrest.

Unbeknownst to Ray or Ordell, Jackie plans to deceive them both with the help of Max in order to keep the $500,000 for herself. After a dry run, during which Ray could observe the operation, the stage is set for the actual event. Set in a Los Angeles mallmarker, Jackie stops in a dressing room before the official exchange to swap bags with Melanie and Louis, supposedly passing off the $500,000 under Nicolette's nose, but in fact only giving Melanie $50,000 and leaving the rest behind in the dressing room for Max to later pick up. Jackie then feigns despair as she calls Ray out from hiding and claims Melanie took all the money and ran.

Though angered, Ray leaves assuming Ordell has escaped with the money through little fault of Jackie's. Melanie grows on Louis' nerves, leading him to shoot and kill her in the parking lot while making their escape. When Ordell later discovers that Louis has only delivered $40,000 (Melanie having taken $10,000 for herself after being tricked into doing so by Jackie), Ordell kills him, now understanding that Jackie took his money. Max and Jackie ultimately lure Ordell back to Max's office to claim his money. Jackie yells out that Ordell has a gun and Ordell is shot by Nicolette who was hidden in the office. The movie ends with Max saying no to Jackie's invitation to come with her as she leaves the country with Ordell's money and the two part after a kiss.

Cast



Production

Tarantino changed the race of the main character of Leonard's novel from white to black. The casting of Pam Grier is an homage to the blaxploitation genre, in which Grier had made several films, such as Black Mama, White Mama. Grier's career is referenced in many ways. The poster for the film directly references the posters for Grier's films Coffy and Foxy Brown; it even includes quotes from both of them. The typeface for the film's opening titles is also identical to what was used on the opening titles of Foxy Brown. Some of the background music is also lifted from these films.

The main character in Leonard's novel is called Jackie Burke, but Tarantino changed her name to Jackie Brown. This is an homage to a gun runner in the 1973 film The Friends of Eddie Coyle, based on a novel of the same name by George V. Higgins.

The opening sequence of the film is a careful homage to that of The Graduate. Where Dustin Hoffman passes wearily through LAXmarker past white tiles to a sombre folk soundtrack, Pam Grier walks past the same spot, years later, to a soaring soul soundtrack ("Across 110th Street" by Bobby Womack).

There are also two references to Burt Reynolds movies. The song "Street Life" by Randy Crawford is used in a scene where Jackie is en route to the climactic set up in Del Amo Mall; this is an homage to the Sharky's Machine (1981). And when Ordell and Louis contemplate who took the money in the VW van, the shot is similar to one in the 1985 film Stick, which is also based on an Elmore Leonard novel.

Later References to Jackie Brown

Following Jackie Brown, Michael Keaton reprised his role as Ray Nicolette in Steven Soderbergh's film Out of Sight, which is also based on an Elmore Leonard novel. On the DVD commentary for that film, Soderbergh comments that this is the first time, to his recollection, that an actor has played the same role in two unrelated movies. Tarantino repeated this story in the Jackie Brown DVD interviews, but apparently neither director was familiar with the contemporary performances of John Anderson playing the real life character, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis in Eight Men Out (John Sayles, 1988) and Babe Ruth (Mark Tinker, 1991), although the latter was a made-for-TV production. Also, Vincent D'Onofrio appeared as Kennedy assassination witness Bill Newman in both Malcolm X and JFK.

Tarantino has included allusions to Jackie Brown in his later films. The gang that Esteban Vihaio runs in Kill Bill is the Acuna Boys, a name that originally appeared on a cup on Sharonda's tray when Jackie first meets her at the mall. The Acuna Boys are also referenced in the Death Proof portion of Grindhouse.

Reception

Jackie Brown was given generally positive reviews by critics, with a score of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Soundtrack

The soundtrack album cover


The soundtrack album for Jackie Brown, entitled Jackie Brown: Music from the Miramax Motion Picture, was released on December 9, 1997.

There was no film score music composed for Jackie Brown as Quentin Tarantino used a variety of different pieces of music with different genres in the film. These include soundtracks from Slash's Snakepit heard throughout the film. The original soundtrack features separate tracks with dialogue from the film. Also, some music from Pam Grier's earlier film, Coffy, can be heard throughout the film in the background.

A number of songs used in the movie do not appear on the soundtrack, such as: "Cissy Strut" (The Meters) and "Undun" (The Guess Who).

DVD

The Special Edition DVD, released by Buena Vista in 2002 Special features include an introduction from Tarantino an hour-long retrospective interview, a subtitle trivia track and soundtrack chapter selection, a half-hour making-of documentary ("How It Went Down"), the entire "Chicks With Guns" video as seen in the movie, many deleted and alternate scenes, including an alternate opening title sequence, Siskel and Ebert's review of the movie, Jackie Brown appearances on MTV, TV spots and theatrical trailers, written reviews and articles and filmographies, and over an hour of trailers for Pam Grier and Robert Forster movies dating from the 1960s onwards. The box also includes a mini-poster of the film, similar to the one above, and on the back of that, two other mini-posters, one of Grier, the other of Forster, both similar to the album cover.

Although the back cover of the Special Edition DVD states that the film is presented in a 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio, it was actually shot with a 1.85:1 ratio, the only Tarantino-directed film to date shot in such a format.

References

External links




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