Like Deb, I find Quentin Tarantino’s films “problematic.” Once Upon a Time in Hollywood celebrates TV programs and movie-making in the late 1960s. Leonardo DiCaprio brilliantly plays an actor on the downside of his career. DiCaprio’s character, Rick Dalton, had a successful TV series called Bounty Law, but now Dalton can only manage “Guest Star” roles on other series, mostly playing the “Heavy.” Brad Pitt, who radiates Star Power, plays Rick Dalton’s stunt double, Cliff Booth. Cliff is more than a stunt man: he’s Rick’s driver and fixer. Together, both men confront their changing life-styles. Margot Robbie plays a convincing Sharon Tate. The plot slowly brings the three characters together in an ending people will either love…or hate.

My favorite part of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood revolves around the scenes Rick Dalton shares with 8-year-old actress (Julia Butters) where Dalton reveals his greatest fears. My least favorite parts of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood center on all the driving scenes (which seem only there to provide a visual background to the song that’s being played on the car radio) and all the walking scenes. Walking around the Western soundstage, walking around George Spahn’s ranch in rural Chatsworth, walking around Benedict Canyon. Too much walking! At 161 minutes, this movie could be edited down to a 2-hour movie without losing much. I enjoyed Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but I’m not in any hurry to watch it again. I hope Tarantino and SONY make back the $100 million it took to make this film. Do you remember these songs from the 1960s? GRADE: B-

1. Treat Her Right – Roy Head & The Traits
2. Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man – The Bob Seger System
Boss Radio feat. Humble Harve:
3. Hush – Deep Purple
4. Mug Root Beer Advertisement
5. Hector – The Village Callers
6. Son of a Lovin’ Man – Buchanan Brothers
7. Paxton Quigley’s Had the Course (from the MGM film Three in the Attic) – Chad & Jeremy
8. Tanya Tanning Butter Advertisement
9. Good Thing – Paul Revere & The Raiders
10. Hungry – Paul Revere & the Raiders
11. Choo Choo Train – The Box Tops
12. Jenny Take a Ride – Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
13. Kentucky Woman – Deep Purple
14. The Circle Game – Buffy Sainte-Marie
Boss Radio feat. The Real Don Steele:
15. Mrs. Robinson – Simon & Garfunkel
16. Numero Uno Advertisement
17. Bring a Little Lovin’ – Los Bravos
18. Suddenly / Heaven Sent Advertisement
19. Vagabond High School Reunion
20. KHJ Los Angeles Weather Report
21. The Illustrated Man Advertisement / Ready For Action
22. Hey Little Girl – Dee Clark
23. Summer Blonde Advertisement
24. Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show – Neil Diamond
25. Don’t Chase Me Around (from the MGM film GAS-S-S-S) – Robert Corff
26. Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon – Paul Revere & the Raiders (feat. Mark Lindsay)
27. California Dreamin’ – Jose Feliciano
28. Dinamite Jim (English Version) – I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni
29. You Keep Me Hangin’ On (Quentin Tarantino Edit) – Vanilla Fudge
30. Miss Lily Langtry (cue from The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean) – Maurice Jarre
31. KHJ Batman Promotion


  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    I enjoyed it more than you did. I would give it a A-. Yes it is a bit on the long side but Tarantino movies always are. DiCaprio gives an excellent performance.
    I know most of the musical artists listed if not always the song used.
    It is nice to have a big budget film that is not about superheroes. Especially in the summer. Now I am looking forward to Martin Scorcese’s The Irishman, It part 2 and The Joker this fall.

    1. george Post author

      Steve, obviously you liked the ending. One of the viewers I walked out of the theater with announced to his friends, “What a load of shit!”

      1. Steve Oerkfitz

        The ending didn’t bother me. I knew a twist was coming ala Inglorious Bastards. The people coming out of the theater seemed to have liked it.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    I do remember most (not all) of the songs. Dee Clark’s “Hey Little Girl” (in the high school sweater) was from 1959. I will see this when it gets to television.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, the theater I saw ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD in was sold-out. I’m hoping Tarantino and SONY make back the big investment they’ve made in this film. It’s a lot of money for a non-Super Hero movie. Risky business…

      1. Steve Oerkfitz

        Tarantino is a big name in Europe. It should have no problem making it’s money back.

      2. george Post author

        Steve, that’s almost half of the $100 million it cost to make ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD. You’re right about Tarantino’s popularity in Europe.

  3. Deb

    John and the girls are planning a father-daughters day to see it. Mom will remain home with her kindle, with a baseball game on in the background, thankyouverymuch. I know a good number of the songs—it sometimes feels as if Tarantino makes movies so that he can show off his knowledge of obscure mid-century music.

    1. george Post author

      Deb, your observation about Tarantino and the music in his movies is spot on. One of Tarantino’s flaws is excess. His movies are too long, too violent, and too meandering. Yet, I watch them because Tanantino loves movies and he has talent to burn!

  4. Michael Padgett

    Haven’t seen this yet, but I will. I love QT’s movies, and the only one I’d grade as low as a B- is “The Hateful Eight”. The rest get an A or an A-.

    1. george Post author

      Michael, I’ve enjoyed all of Tarantino’s films–THE HATEFUL EIGHT ranks at the bottom of his oeuvre. I know Tarantino will surprise me at least once (sometimes multiple times) in his movies.

      1. Steve Oerkfitz

        I would also rate The Hateful Eight as his weakest film. Not many filmmakers around that have the passion that he brings to his films-Scorcese and the Coen brothers are two others that come to mind. Most of the great directors of the 70’s have passed away or haven’t made a decent movie in years-Coppola.

      2. george Post author

        Steve, I agree. The great directors are gone. Plus the Hollywood studios want blockbuster money-makers…which boils down to Super-Hero and action movies.

  5. wolf

    I remember only a few of these songs – American Forces Network didn’t play that type of songs …
    And our German radio programs were horrible, just trashy “folk music” and operettas. Only in 1968 (!) after a German radio guy came back from a visit to the USA he got his bosses at South German National Radio in the Black Forest to start PopShop – one hour of pop/rock etc every day!
    In 1975 this changed into an all day rock/pop station …

    1. george Post author

      Wolf, sadly few people listen to radio any more. Unless I’m driving around in my Nissan Rogue, I rarely listen to radio programs. Young people listen to music on their cell phones. Many radio stations have stopping playing music and converted to “talk radio” stations.

  6. Rick Robinson

    I think you’re right on in your review, based on reviews I’ve read. As for the music, I’m familiar with about all of it. The thought of Tarantino editing Vanilla Fudge scares me a little.

    1. george Post author

      Rick, it seemed like every few minutes in ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, Tarantino found some excuse to inject a song (or two) from that era into the action. The cliche “soundtrack of your Life” sure comes into play in this movie!

  7. Deb

    On the other hand, I was talking with John & Julia about your post today and it turned out Julia had never heard Jose Feliciano’s version of Light My Fire, just as John & I had never heard his version of California Dreaming (which is on this soundtrack)—so we spent a pleasant evening listening to songs on Jose’s “Feliciano!” album (hey, I think that Spotify thing could catch on)—and it’s very good, all covers, including some Beatles.

    1. george Post author

      Deb, I hadn’t heard Jose Feliciano’s cover of “California Dreaming” in decades. Our Oldies station occasionally plays Feliciano’s cover of “Light My Fire.” The soundtrack to ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD includes a lot of obscure music that deserves to be rediscovered…as you, Julia, and John did.

      1. Steve Oerkfitz

        Don’t mind his version of California Dreaming but hate his version of Light My Fire. Noticed Twelve Thirty (my favorite song of theirs) by The Mamas and the Papas was used in the movie but is not on soundtrack.

      2. wolf

        Light My Fire for me will always be the Doors song!
        And something funny from the NYT even:
        Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” hit theaters this weekend. But as eagle-eyed grammarians noticed, the ellipsis shifts on billboards and in trailers to “Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood.”

      3. george Post author

        Wolf, I listen to The Doors’s version of “Light My Fire” on a regular basis. Some headlines include the ellipsis, some don’t.

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