“My Best Friend’s Birthday”: Quentin Tarantino’s Incomplete Short Film


I’ve posted old short films on The Back Row from the likes of Sam Raimi, David Cronenberg and Christopher Nolan, and to celebrate his 48th birthday today, it’s only appropriate that I add Quentin Tarantino to the list. The difference here is that his production is only a short film because of an unfortunate accident. In the 1980s, while he was still working as a video store clerk, Tarantino directed and starred in a black-and-white 16 mm film called My Best Friend’s Birthday, which he shot on a budget of $5000 over the course of four years. After they were finished, the original cut was about 70 minutes long, but unfortunately, they lost the film’s final reel in a lab fire, so only 36 minutes of footage remain. Incomplete or not, My Best Friend’s Birthday is still an interesting curiosity for Quentin Tarantino fans. The acting, direction and editing are obviously very amateurish, but there’s still a lot of typically great QT dialogue passages (“Your ass is grass and I am the lawnmower”) and numerous pop culture references (including a mention of B-movie actor Aldo Ray, whose name would inspire the Lt. Aldo Raine character in Inglourious Basterds). You could also tell this film served as the basis for Tarantino’s script for True Romance as there are quite a few scenes and plot elements that would eventually show up in that film. Since Quentin Tarantino never officially attended film school, I guess you can consider My Best Friend’s Birthday to be his film school.

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