Early signs of the great director’s talents are easily visible in the 34 surviving minutes of Tarantino’s first film.
Now here at Spoool we aren’t going to start reviewing shorts but when it came to light that Quentin Tarantino’s first directorial outing My Best Friend’s Birthday was available on the interweb (and embedded at the bottom of this review), we had to give it a perusal. The film was shot over three years from 1984-87 and although it was completed, a fire broke out in the lab destroying the second reel leaving only half of the finished film.
It’s shot in black in white and looks like it cost about $10 like all good first time student films should. I presume most of the “actors” are friends and not classically trained. It follows the story of a bunch of guys who work at a public radio station, one of whom is played by Quentin whose best friend, Mickey, is celebrating a birthday. The footage is made up of about 10 to 12 smaller scenes, some relevant, some not and it would be really interesting to hear where the film went after it cuts off or how the whole thing ended.
Now the acting is pretty terrible but passable and it even suits the comedy tone of the film. I found it very funny, especially the scene involving Mickey (Craig Hamann) and his ex-girlfriend Linda Kaye (who subsequently went on to appear in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction). Tarantino is the main character in these available minutes, perhaps Mickey made more of a showing in the lost footage and it’s interesting to see his quirky, almost tourettes-like ramblings were present from the get go. We see his love for movies and Elvis throughout and the first glimpse of his foot fetish.
The gods over at IMDB inform me that this became the basis for True Romance, the 1993 film that Tarantino wrote, which is pretty believable. In My Best Friend’s Birthday we have the story of a hooker called Minky (Crystal Shaw), a pimp and big references to Elvis. True Romance basically tells the story of a hooker on the run from her pimp with Val Kilmer playing the soul of Elvis. Oh and Tarantino’s character name is Clarence which is the same as Christian’s character in True Romance.
So perhaps that’s my answer True Romance was the film Quentin wanted to make when he set out back in ’84 with My Best Friend’s Birthday.
Not a classic but a must for any fans of film or Tarantino.