Reservoir Dogs marked the beginning of a strong movie production relationship between Hollywood producer Lawrence Bender and up and coming indie gangster film director Quentin Tarantino.
As the film’s intro credits flash against a black screen, character voices of the scene in the background engage in a debate about pop singer Madonna’s hit Like a Virgin. The characters, dressed in black suits and ties are introduced as they contribute their own comments to the discussion.
It becomes clear that they’re in a diner, smoking, eating and there definitely has to be more to the meeting than this discussion about songs and movies.
After an altercation following Steve Buscemi’s refusal to leave a tip, the group exits the restaurant, walking in slow motion while Ronald Jonker’s Little Green Bag continues the credits rolling.
The story restarts with the scene of a pale, seriously wounded and expiring Tim Roth in the back seat of a car driven by Harvey Keitel, who is trying to encourage Roth to continue fighting for his life.
As the story continues to unfold, several of the members from the opening restaurant scene converge on an abandoned warehouse where they await the return of “Joe.”
It becomes clear through their dialogues and flashbacks to an earlier robbery gone awry that they are all dangerous criminals awaiting the next instructions following their somewhat Pyrrhically successful jewelry store heist.
The bulk of the story is told from within the warehouse as new members drift in, all with new allusions and revelations to and about events that keep the audience guessing about when they will learn more details.
It becomes clear to the characters and the audience that someone snitched and the dramatic tension is heightened as viewers and the film’s cast try to figure out who that was.
This indie masterpiece makes excellent use of dramatic tension, well timed exposition and showing rather than telling to draw the audience into the world of these has-been felons, doing one last robbery.
At the box office, the 1992 film drew in $2.8 million, which isn’t bad given that the director was largely unknown and that producer Lawrence Bender was also at the beginning of his career. It also bears mentioning that the film’s entire budget was only $1.2 million and it did cast some rather well known actors.
About Lawrence Bender
Born in 1957 in Bronx, New York, Lawrence Bender graduated from The University of Maine in 1979 earning his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering.
Active in a variety of social causes, Bender sits on the Advisory Boards of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.
Lawrence Bender’s other productions include Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, Killing Zoe and From Dusk til Dawn.