Happy birthday to Quentin Tarantino, the manic movie-loving man who charms us with his affection for cinema and knowledge of the greats. When it comes to lists of all-time favorites, Tarantino’s picks get published more than perhaps any other director — and with good reason. The man has excellent taste. We’ve selected ten of his all-time favorites from several lists compiled by Open Culture that you can watch right now.
A group of questionable characters risk their lives in the South American jungle transporting gallons of dangerous nitroglycerin across the murky backwater. Director William Friedkin is at his nihilistic, paranoid, and grimy best.
His Girl Friday
Tarantino said Howard Hawks’ 1940 screwball classic, starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell as a newspaper editor and reporter (and exes!), featured some of his favorite comedic performances. There’s wisecracking dialogue for days, chemistry you rarely find between stars, and snappy work all around by Hawks (the film won two Academy Awards).
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Hear it from the man himself about Sergio Leone’s 1966 spaghetti western that made Clint Eastwood a star and features Ennio Morricone’s iconic score.
Five Fingers of Death, a.k.a., King Boxer
“The Carson Twin Cinema, that was pretty much the perfect grindhouse theater. It was family-owned, this cool old Italian guy ran it, and it was in the Scottsdale Shopping Center,” Tarantino once recalled of his youth. “They would show Enter the Dragon and The Five Fingers of Death as a double feature three times a year, because it would always sell out.”
Tarantino named Brian De Palma’s bloody horror classic Carrie one of his favorite films of all time in the 2002 and 2012 Sight & Sound polls. The revenge tale about an awkward high-school student (Sissy Spacek) features Piper Laurie in a must-see hysterical performance and remains one of the best Stephen King adaptations.
The Great Escape
“Probably my favorite war movie,” Tarantino told Today. “That’s one of the most entertaining movies ever made and was kind of the touchstone goal for (Inglourious Basterds) to one degree or another. . . . Make a World War II movie that’s just entertaining, that you just enjoy watching the movie.”
Pretty Maids All in a Row
Rock Hudson, Angie Dickinson, Telly Savalas, and writing by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry? Roger Vadim’s sexploitation thriller doesn’t get more ’70s than that.
“I saw Coffy when I was like thirteen, and like every other boy my age, I had a big old thing for her,” Tarantino once said of Jack Hill’s 1973 blaxploitation film starring the great Pam Grier. We love a badass woman who hides razor blades in her afro.
Hi Diddle Diddle
From a 1943 New York Times review of Andrew W. Stone’s screwball comedy:
The film has a novel introduction, beginning with a cartoon sequence and ending on an even more unusual cartoon note. In between there is a goofy story about a sailor on forty-eight hours’ leave who has to overcome a lot of silly obstacles to marry a wealthy sweetheart, and you never can tell when a character will turn and drop an aside to the audience. . . . The picture does one thing, however. It reintroduces Pola Negri, the silent screen queen of vamps, and proves time has neither dimmed her beauty nor improved her acting.
Tarantino’s review of Martin Scorsese’s 1976 film, starring Robert De Niro in mohawk-crazy vigilante mode.