Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Jackie Brown

Taking advantage of Pam Grier's history blaxploitation films, Quentin Tarantino cast her in the title role of his 1997 adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel Rum Punch. More than a quarter of a century later it remains the only non-original film Tarantino has created (which is interesting as some, although not me, argue it just may be his best work). Grier's inclusion easily lets the viewer tie this film to her earlier works in film like Coffy and immediately understand the tone Tarantino is going for with the stylish Jackie Brown.

Grier stars as an aging flight attendant for a sketchy airline smuggling money from Mexico for local Los Angeles thug Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). Caught in the act, ATF Agent Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) attempts to flip Brown to take down Robbie.

Jackie Brown's arrest brings her into contact with bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster) who almost immediately falls for Jackie and agrees to help her extricate herself from her situation. Also looming around the edges of the story are Robbie's houseguests Louis (Robert De Niro) and Melanie (Bridget Fonda) who will provide crucial roles into Ordell's plans (and, unfortunately for Ordell, also Jackie's). And so begins the slow burn of a story that turns out to be a perfect marriage of Tarantino and Leonard (who credited Tarantino with what Leonard called the best screenplay he had ever read).

Grier, who was Tarantino's first choice for the role, is perfect here. While not his original choice for Cherry, the film also revitalized the career of Forester as well as the pair play perfectly off each other in a rather quaint middle-aged love story stuck in the middle of a much more chaotic world. DeNiro and Fonda are fun playing such idiots and Jackson is having a blast in what he credits as one of his favorite screen roles. 26 years later, the film still holds up well and is being rereleased on Blu-ray.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Jackie Brown
  • IMDb: link

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