A movie is just a series of scenes. They work together to tell a story and they have to organically follow each other, but the best feature films feel like a bunch of short films strung together that all happen to be about the same characters and serve the same storyline. If the same care and attention goes into the structure, the dialogue, the performances, the music, the set design, and the composition of every scene, then a great movie is born.
This basic principle is what makes Quentin Tarantino’s movies so consistently fantastic. His movies are rife with unforgettable scenes. So, here is The Most Memorable Scene In Each Quentin Tarantino Movie, Ranked.
8 The climactic car chase in Death Proof
One of the problems with Death Proof is that, although it sets out to homage the exploitation genre, it’s a little too exploitative to be enjoyable. It’s just a stuntman with a “death proof” car going around, killing women, and ultimately getting beaten to death by the first group of women he failed to murder.
But all of those problems aside, practical stunt work can save anything. Tarantino regular and acclaimed stunt performer Zoë Bell plays herself in the movie, and the climactic car chase where Stuntman Mike ruthlessly pursues the women, while she happens to be hanging from the hood by a belt, is a rousing sequence.
7 The final scene in The Hateful Eight
The Hateful Eight, Tarantino’s revisionist western confined mostly to a snowbound haberdashery full of outlaws who can’t trust each other, ends with one of the director’s most intense scenes to date. We’ve just spent three hours getting to know these people, and then all of a sudden, they start killing each other: Warren shoots Daisy and Mobray, killing the latter and injuring the former; Mannix and Warren shoot and kill Gage as he draws his weapon; Daisy saws off John Ruth’s arm to free herself; Mannix shoots Daisy as she reaches for Gage’s gun; and Warren and Mannix decide to gruesomely hang Daisy from the ceiling.
The tension in this scene is helped in spades by the incredible acting and also Ennio Morricone’s petrifying musical score.
6 Showdown at the House of Blue Leaves in Kill Bill
Quentin Tarantino was forced to shuffle Kill Bill around when he was denied the chance to make it a four-hour epic and had to split it into two parts. But he used that as a lucrative opportunity to capitalize on the dramatic possibilities of the two-part movie format. For starters, it meant he could have two climactic sequences.
The climax at the end of Volume 2 is a quiet, conversational scene between the Bride and Bill, but the climax at the end of Volume 1 is a spectacular action set piece. It differentiates itself from other Hollywood action sequences by keeping on its toes, flitting from color to black-and-white and changing the songs on the soundtrack.
5 Jackie says goodbye to Max in Jackie Brown
Many Tarantino devotees think of Jackie Brown as the director’s underrated masterpiece. It acted as a comeback vehicle for blaxploitation legend Pam Grier, but it also provided audiences with one of the most genuine and human relationships in any Tarantino movie. Throughout the film, Jackie and Max develop a true connection with one another. That’s what makes the ending so heartbreaking.
Even though it’s a quiet ending – as Jackie takes the rest of Ordell’s money and his car and takes off for Spain – it has impact, because of the relationship we know Jackie and Max have developed over the course of the movie.
4 Jules and Vincent visit Brett’s apartment in Pulp Fiction
Pretty much every single scene in Pulp Fiction is a memorable one, punctuated with iconic characters moments, props, and lines of dialogue: “Royale with Cheese,” Jack Rabbit Slim’s, Christopher Walken’s gold watch monologue etc.
But arguably, the most iconic scene in Pulp Fiction is the one that birthed Samuel L. Jackson’s career. As Jules and Vincent pay Brett and his buddies a visit, we get all the hallmarks of Tarantino’s filmography: speeches by Sam Jackson, mobsters in black suits, product placement for a fictional brand, an ambiguous MacGuffin (the mysterious briefcase), and gorgeously rendered violence.
3 Dinner at Calvin Candie’s house in Django Unchained
What makes this incredible sequence so tense is that, like the best of Tarantino’s writing, it plays around with how much information the audience knows in an interesting way. At the beginning of the scene, we know that Django is pretending to be a black slaver in order to free his wife, Broomhilda, from Calvin Candie’s plantation.
Throughout the scene, Stephen figures out that Django and Broomhilda know each other and brings it to Calvin’s attention. The tension is ratcheted up slowly through masterful camera work and mesmerizing acting from the cast until it’s so intense that we’re on the edge of our seats every time.
2 The torture scene in Reservoir Dogs
The opening diner scene from Reservoir Dogs is a strong contender for its most memorable sequence since it was the first scene to establish Tarantino’s style: gangsters in black suits discussing popular culture. But the torture scene is easily the most memorable. Mr. Blonde shows us just how sadistic he is when he tells the poor cop that he knows he doesn’t have any information, but he’s still going to torture him.
Plus, the juxtaposition of graphic violence with the sounds of Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle with You” is hypnotic. When Mr. Blonde leaves the warehouse to grab a jerry can and the diegetic music fades out and back in again, we’re reminded of the grim reality of the scene.
1 The opening scene in Inglourious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino makes long, talky, unwieldy scenes work by giving them a suspenseful context. When we see Hans Landa and La Padite having an ostensibly ordinary conversation about bilingualism and milk, we’re hooked, because we know that Landa is there in search of Jewish refugees and La Padite is hiding a bunch of them under his floorboards.
The scene ends with the hauntingly cinematic sight of Landa’s soldiers tearing up the floorboards with bullets, leaving behind one survivor whose life Landa slyly decides to spare. This opening brilliantly sets the uniquely horrifying and darkly comic tone of the whole movie.