True Romance was written by celebrated filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, and while not mentioned as often as his other movies, it features one of his favorite scenes of his, ever. The 1993 movie follows a couple, Lawrence (Christian Slater) and Alabama (Patricia Arquette), attempting to start a fresh new life following a shootout with the latter’s pimp, Drexl (Gary Oldman). They arrange one huge drug deal with a Hollywood producer, which will set them up for life, but they also have the mob on their tail. As is typical for a Tarantino movie, True Romance ends in absolute bloodshed, but it also has a surprisingly happy ending.
Though Tarantino didn’t direct the movie, his fingerprints are all over it. True Romance‘s snappy pop culture-referencing dialogue is quintessentially Tarantino. However, while the filmmaker is known for hilarious tirades about pop songs and the idea of tipping, True Romance has much deeper and way more hard-hitting dialogue than what he was known for at the time. Tarantino perfected his craft of intense, dialogue-heavy scenes with the 20-minute opening sequence of Inglourious Basterds. However, it took him 16 years to beat one specific dramatic scene in True Romance, which until the release of the war movie was Tarantino’s favorite bit of writing of his own.
The “Sicilian” Scene Is Tarantino’s Second Favorite Scene
While Clarence and Alabama are the heroes of True Romance, they aren’t in every scene. Clarence’s father, Clifford (Dennis Hopper), also has a major role. The character is a retired cop, and it’s clear that Clarence and Clifford are a great father-son duo. Clifford will do anything for Clarence, who is on the run from the mob. That’s why Vincenzo Coccotti (Christopher Walken) pays Clifford a visit and demands to know where Clarence is. This leads to an intense conversation between the two of them, and according to Screen Craft, for a long time, Tarantino believed it was the best scene he had written.
Clifford realizes he’s a dead man for not handing over the information, and knowing that Vincenzo is racist, he antagonizes him by explaining that Sicilians are related to African Americans. It’s a hair-raising scene, performed beautifully by Hopper and Walken. It wasn’t until 16 years later that he topped it with Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino explained, “It was in my very first script, True Romance, it was the whole Sicilian speech. That was the one to beat.” However, Tarantino doesn’t deserve all the credit, as True Romance‘s “Sicilian” speech was inspired by a real conversation that the filmmaker overheard.
Tarantino Was Originally Embarrassed By Walken Rehearsing The Scene
Quentin Tarantino had mixed feelings when it came to rehearsing the True Romance scene. He felt particularly embarrassed when he watched Christopher Walken deliver the dialogue that he had written (via Far Out Magazine). Tarantino explained that Walken had taken the scene so seriously and professionally memorized every word. “It was almost intimidating that such a terrific actor would take my work so seriously,” he said. It turned into an accomplished moment for the filmmaker, as it was the first time such a thing happened, and it’s no surprise that he later gave Walken a five-minute monologue in Pulp Fiction.
MORE: How Tony Scott Changed Quentin Tarantino’s True Romance Script