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Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood... annotated

<i>Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood</i>... annotated
Graphic: Natalie Peeples, Photo: Sony Pictures
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Let’s get this out of the way first: This is not a complete recounting of every single pop culture reference in Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood. To claim as much would be hubris. No, this is simply the best The A.V. Club could do after two back-to-back viewings of Quentin Tarantino’s latest, the second of which was devoted wholly to noting every movie poster, real-life character, radio ad, and name drop we could catch. It was humbling—and really enjoyable. We also went back and updated this article four days after its original publication with six new entries compiled from a third theatrical showing of the film, and suspect we’ll be noticing things for many viewings to come.

Tarantino’s films always double as cryptic scavenger hunts, maps of the writer-director’s cinema-obsessed psyche where each landmark is as lovingly and deliberately placed as the monthly programming at Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema—which Tarantino makes a point of curating himself, even when he’s in the middle of shooting one of his own movies. Asked if he’s worried if younger viewers won’t “get” all of his references in Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood in a new interview with Time, Tarantino says, “it bums me out that [younger viewers] don’t know more than they do,” but “you don’t have to know everybody I’m talking about here. Every film book I ever read, I expected the guy to know more than me.” But he encourages the millennial crowd to look up unfamiliar elements of the movie to enhance the experience; “I’m Mr. Look Up Things, constantly, as I’m watching stuff,” he adds.

Now, we have more clues to help with this obsessive-compulsive endeavor than previous generations did flipping through their film encyclopedias. Even a director who’s famously adverse to social media can’t avoid the internet entirely in 2019, and Tarantino breaks down the New Bev’s July 2019 schedule—all films that relate to Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood in one way or another—on a three-hour episode of the theater’s Pure Cinema Podcast. That’s recommended if you want to get deeper into the cinematic references in the film.

We are, for the purposes of this piece, assuming that you know who Sharon Tate was, what happened when Charles Manson commanded his followers to kill in August 1969, who Roman Polanski was at the time of the murders, and who he is today. If you’re not familiar with any of these people, the “Charles Manson’s Hollywood” series on the You Must Remember This podcast is a detailed, extremely well-told recounting of the historical background for the film’s depiction of Tate, Polanski, Manson, and his “Family.” There have also been multiple biographical documentaries about Bruce Lee, who’s played by Mike Moh in the film and about whom we’re also assuming you have at least a passing familiarity. Of those, we like Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey, which was released in 2000.

With all that being said, hop into the way, way back machine, kiddies, because we’re taking a trip to Hollywood, 1969.

Intermediate studies

Hullabaloo / “Green Door”

Rick’s failure to get with the times is underlined in his appearance on this rock ’n’ roll variety show, one of two youthquake aftershocks that hit primetime during the 1964-65 television season. (The other being ABC’s Shindig.) NBC’s version played host to The Rolling Stones, The Supremes, and the miniskirted dancers who shimmy and bop around DiCaprio in Once Upon A Time…, but Hullabaloo was equally stacked behind the scenes—future T.A.M.I. Show director and Pee-wee’s Playhouse producer Steve Binder set its frenetic visual template, and Beatles impresario Brian Epstein provided a steady stream of British Invasion bookings. In front of the show’s distinctive pileup of Cooper Black text, DiCaprio sweats his way through an off-key rendition of “Green Door,” the novelty record that ruled the Billboard Top 100 in November of 1956. The Cole Porter standard “Don’t Fence Me In” was also considered, but “Green Door” is a better fit—why shouldn’t has-been Rick Dalton croon about being kept up all night by the noise emanating from a swinging club that won’t grant him admission? [Erik Adams]

The Rick Dalton guest-shot résumé

When Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino) rattles off a list of shows Rick has or could’ve guested on, it’s a whirlwind tour of mid-to-late-’60s action-adventure TV: NBC’s two-season update of the Tarzan mythos, the Irwin Allen forced-perspective spectacle of Land Of The Giants, na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na Batman. But with the exception of the pilot Rick’s lending his name recognition to, Lancer, there’s not a Western among them. Shows like the fictional Bounty Law were on the verge of being put out to pasture in 1969, a once-dominant genre reduced almost entirely to the small but steadfast posse of Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Virginian, and High Chaparral. Wasn’t much call for a gunfighter those days—good thing Rick hung onto that 14 Fists Of McCluskey flamethrower. [Erik Adams]

Jay Sebring

Jay Sebring is mostly portrayed as Sharon Tate’s loyal lapdog in Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood, with only the briefest mention of his career as a hairdresser towards the end of the film where Jay clarifies, “no, I get a thousand dollars a day.” Sebring, who taught himself to cut hair while serving in the Navy during the Korean War, was the premier hairstylist for Hollywood leading men in the late 1960s, counting Kirk Douglas, Paul Newman, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Marlon Brando, Henry Fonda, Steve McQueen, and Bruce Lee—who really did give him martial arts lessons—among his regular clients. He was also the inspiration for consummate ladies’ man George Roundy in Shampoo (1975); Sebring’s regular client Warren Beatty came up with the idea after learning that Sebring had a private entrance at his salon that provided perfect cover for afternoon trysts as well as A-list makeovers. [Katie Rife]

Steve McQueen

The “king of cool” himself. In Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood, action star Steve McQueen(Damian Lewis) pines at a Playboy Mansion party that he never stood a chance with Sharon Tate—who, according to McQueen, appeared to prefer shorter, less handsome men than himself. Much like Rick Dalton, McQueen got his start on television as a bounty hunter with a heart of gold on CBS’s Wanted Dead Or Alive, which premiered in 1957. (His second act as a movie star was far more successful, however.) In Tarantino’s Hollywood, McQueen and Dalton go up for many of the same parts, including the Oscar-nominated The Great Escape (1963), prompting Dalton to imagine himself in the starring role. [Mike Vanderbilt]

Connie Stevens

Throughout her career, Connie Stevens was a triple threat, finding success in film, television, and music. In the film, she’s played by Dreama Walker, and is seen chatting with Steve McQueen at a Playboy Mansion party as he laments that he never stood a chance with Sharon Tate. In real life, Stevens was a regular at the Playboy Mansion, attending at least one “Bunny Of The Year Awards” In 1974. The actual 1969 found Stevens performing for the troops in Vietnam with Bob Hope’s USO tour. It’s also worth noting Stevens was married to Lancer star James Stacy from 1963 to 1966. [Mike Vanderbilt]

The Mamas And The Papas

The counterculture that Rick and Cliff detest, Sharon, Jay, and Roman hang on the fringes of, and Charles Manson exploited found one of its widest-reaching expressions in the music of The Mamas And The Papas. The group’s richly harmonized blend of folk, rock, flower-power euphoria, and bad-trip melancholy hangs over Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood like a period-appropriate smog: “Straight Shooter” plays on the radio and the Tate-Polanski piano, and Jose Feliciano’s cover of “California Dreamin’” soundtracks the conclusion of the film’s winter chapters. The “mamas” half of the band appears on screen, too: Vocalists Michelle Phillips and Cass Elliot are the friends who greet Sharon upon her arrival at the Playboy Mansion. They were close enough in real life that Phllips’ husband—and Mamas And The Papas bandleader—John Phillips was briefly considered a suspect in the Tate murders. [Erik Adams]

Paul Revere & The Raiders/ Terry Melcher

In the late ’60s, Paul Revere & The Raiders had a string of Top 40 garage-pop hits—including “Kicks,” known as one of the first anti-drug anthems in popular music. (Lead singer Mark Lindsay contends he thought it was “about how it’s not as easy to have fun as it used to be.”) Lindsay, Revere producer Terry Melcher, and actress Candice Bergen moved in to 10050 Cielo Dr. in late ’66, and in ’68 Charles Manson attended a meeting with the producer, facilitated by Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, at the house. (Manson, a failed musician, plied Wilson with LSD and sex all summer to get that meeting.) Melcher declined to sign Manson, but considered working with him on a documentary about his music, until abandoning the project after witnessing a brawl with a drunken stuntman at Spahn Ranch. Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood features Sharon Tate, who by February 1969 had moved into Melcher and Lindsay’s old digs, grooving to “Good Thing;” the band’s pure pop sound was falling out of favor for edgier fare from the likes of The Doors by 1969— thus Sharon teasing Jay Sebring that she’d tell Jim Morrison (a client at Sebring’s salon) that Jay digs Paul Revere & The Raiders. When Manson comes by shortly afterwards asking where “Terry and Candice” are, it’s a desperate gambit to try to get the record producer to give him one more chance. [Katie Rife/Mike Vanderbilt]

Lancer: Sam Wanamaker/James Stacy/Wayne Maunder

Rick’s guest spot on the pilot for Lancer—a real Western TV series that ran on Tuesdays at 7:30 on CBS from 1968 to 1970—is littered with real-life figures. The flashy, capelet-clad director who wants Rick Dalton to bring some of that Hells Angels’ counterculture flair to his role is Sam Wanamaker, a real actor and director who actually did helm one episode of Lancer. James Stacy, the series lead portrayed by Timothy Olyphant, really did star in the show, whose “half-brothers defending the family ranch” conceit solidified its status as a second-rate Bonanza. Wayne Maunder, portrayed by Luke Perry in the movie, co-starred as the half-brother. In fact, the most heavily fictionalized detail of Rick’s Lancer experience involves the child actress Dalton’s character kidnaps on the episode, as the family’s female ward on the actual Lancer was played by 22-year-old Elizabeth Baur. [Katie Rife]


As Tarantino outlines on the Pure Cinema Podcast, the character of Rick Dalton was informed by a handful of real-life ‘60s screen stars, and Fabian is a big one. Unlike the warbling Rick, Fabian Forte is an excellent singer, and got his start as a heartthrob and crooner on American Bandstand in the late ‘50s before making the transition to acting in the early-to-mid-’60s. Much like Rick’s big-screen belly flop, Fabian wasn’t able to sustain his previous level of celebrity as a movie star, and after a handful of early successes he was banished to B-movies and TV guest spots—like his appearance on the primetime Western The Virginian, on the set of which Fabian is in a (fictional) accident that forces him to drop out of the (fictional) WWII action flick The 14 Fists Of McLusky, allowing Rick Dalton to step in in his place. [Katie Rife]

Image for article titled Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood... annotated
Graphic: Natalie Peeples, Screenshot: YouTube

The Wrecking Crew

When Hollywood got ahold of Donald Hamilton’s series of Matt Helm novels, the studios took the literary spy and, knowing there was no real way to compete with the James Bond juggernaut of the ‘60s, turned him into a parody of the character—and the genre. A sort of proto-Austin Powers, Dean Martin’s Matt Helm was more swinging than his British counterpart, and infinitely sillier. Frankly, 1969’s The Wrecking Crew, the Matt Helm movie that Sharon Tate goes to see in Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood, is kind of a drag. But Tate is a technicolor wonder in groovy ‘60s ensembles, and steals the show by showcasing both comedic chops and karate chops. (Bruce Lee really did assist in choreographing the fight sequences.) [Mike Vanderbilt]

The Mercenary/Sergio Corbucci

The other movie playing at the Bruin Westwood on February 9, 1969 ties in to both Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood and Tarantino’s larger filmography. This (actually quite good and worth tracking down) 1968 spaghetti Western was directed by Sergio Corbucci, the real-life director of such classics of the subgenre as Django and The Great Silence; within the film, he’s also the director of the fictional Rick Dalton vehicle Nebraska Jim, about which the Narrator says Rick “exist[ed] quite nicely” among Corbucci’s coterie of rough-and-tumble antiheroes. A snippet of music from Ennio Morricone’s score for The Mercenary, the stirring “L’Arena,” was also featured in Kill Bill, Vol. 2. [Katie Rife]

Valley Of The Dolls

It’s ironic that Sharon Tate isn’t recognized in this movie for what would wind up becoming her most famous role: Jennifer in Valley Of The Dolls. In the top-selling novel of 1966, Jacqueline Susann crafted the trashy-yet-epic story of three beautiful young starlets and their tumultuous Hollywood paths: Neely O’Hara (played by Patty Duke in the movie), Anne Welles (Peyton Place cast member Barbara Parkins), and Jennifer North, “the one who ends up doing dirty movies,” played by Tate. The part of Jennifer, the gorgeous blonde bombshell who only wants someone to love her for who she is, not what she looks like, was reportedly based on Marilyn Monroe and Carole Landis, both actresses who eventually died of barbiturate overdose. The movie version of Valley Of The Dolls was a box-office success, but was so panned by critics (it’s often included on lists of the worst films of all time) that it eventually became a cult hit as a camp classic. After Tate’s murder in 1969, Valley Of The Dolls was re-released. [Gwen Ihnat]

The F.B.I./Bonanza 

Squeaky Fromme and George Spahn’s appointment viewing has some basis in truth: The FBI (“A Quinn Martin/Warner Bros. production!”) and the long-lived oater Bonanza aired back-to-back on ABC and NBC, respectively, on Sunday nights until 1971. [Erik Adams]

The Deep Cuts

Love, Hate, And Dishonor

The first of several ads that play over the radio in Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood is for Love, Hate, And Dishonor, the American TV title for the jazzy 1965 Italian murder mystery The Possessed. The film’s significant not only in the fact that it stars Peter Baldwin—another American actor slumming it abroad in European genre movies— but also because Tarantino first saw many of the films that make up Once Upon A Time’s collective unconscious in their TV airings, as he elaborates on the Pure Cinema Podcast. [Katie Rife]

Clint Ritchie/Henry Wilcoxon

Tanner is Rick Dalton’s big-screen Western triumph in Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood, but brief insert shots of Marvin Schwarz watching the movie in his home theater turn up the names of two real-life actors who play second banana to the fictional Rick. The first is Clint Ritchie, a North Dakota native and studio player who started his career on the CBS cowboy series Wild Wild West before being set adrift after Twentieth Century Fox released him from his contract in the early ‘70s. The second is the distinguished English actor Henry Wilcoxon, who enjoyed a long and loyal partnership with director Cecil B. DeMille in the ‘30s, ‘40s,’ and ‘50s. By the late ‘60s, however, Wilcoxon had been reduced to appearing in guest starring roles on primetime TV, much like another fading star we could name. [Katie Rife]

Image for article titled Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood... annotated
Graphic: Natalie Peeples, Screenshot: YouTube

Musso & Frank

Any history of Hollywood’s oldest restaurant—and there’s been a lot of them on the occasion of its centennial—drops enough names to be mistaken for Tarantino dialogue. The steak-and-martini joint is where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio engaged in PDA, Bukowski got blotto, and Jon Hamm pretended Don Draper was at Sardi’s. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’s period setting required plenty turn-back-the-clock touch-ups on L.A. landmarks, but not here. The red-leather-and-mahogany decor, the jacketed servers, and most of the menu have practically been preserved in amber. Any night at Musso’s could look like 2019, 1949, or, for one fateful, Tarantino-directed schmooze fest over whiskey sours and bloody marys, 1969. [Erik Adams]

“Bill Cosby, Nancy Sinatra, and Tom Smothers”

As Cliff drives up Cielo Drive, he hears a radio ad announcing guest stars like Bill Cosby, Nancy Sinatra, and the Smothers Brothers on an unknown variety show. An entertainment holdover from the vaudeville days, the variety show was trying to retain relevancy as the ’60s drew to a close. Irreverent upstarts like Rowan And Martin’s Laugh-In and Tom and Dick Smothers attempted to breathe new life into the old format, while Bob Hope’s never-ending series of specials was steeped in the nostalgia of old-school Hollywood. So this list of guest stars tracks the industry’s forward-looking transition that Rick is so desperately trying to fight. Bill Cosby and Tom Smothers are the future, while Nancy Sinatra is an interesting bridge in the middle: She’s Hollywood royalty thanks to her father Frank, but was ready to kick up her own go-go boots in hits like “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.” [Gwen Ihnat]

The Illustrated Man

Rod Steiger became the human canvas upon which three Ray Bradbury short stories are inked in this cinematic adaptation of the science-fiction author’s 1951 collection. Once Upon A Time digs up one of the film’s radio spots, but its theatrical trailer has its own Tarantino connection: It’s structured an awful lot like Edgar Wright’s contribution to the Grindhouse trailer reel, Don’t. [Erik Adams]

Romeo & Juliet

The 1968 film Romeo And Juliet is shown on two marquees in Once Upon A Time…first in February and then in August, where the marquee exclaims, “8th month in theaters!” Many movies had been made of Shakespeare’s tragedy about the doomed young lovers, but Franco Zeffirelli’s film, released in October 1968, was a straight-up sensation; Roger Ebert called it “the most exciting film of Shakespeare ever made.” Zeffirelli broke with tradition by casting unknown teenage actors Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey to play the titular pair, filming in stunningly picturesque Italy. The film’s prominent placement here could be a reference to the tragedy of the actual Manson murders, but also a sly wink to star Leonardo DiCaprio’s younger glory days, when he played Romeo in Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 version. [Gwen Ihnat]

Lady In Cement/Pretty Poison

The double feature playing at the Van Nuys Drive-In the night Cliff comes home for some mac and cheese reflects the changes in the film industry that have Rick and Cliff so out of sorts: The first is Lady In Cement, a Miami-set thriller marketed towards middle-aged Playboy subscribers fossilizing at a rate similar to that of the film’s star, Frank Sinatra. The second is Pretty Poison, which, despite starring the past-his-prime Anthony Perkins, catered to the edgy sensibilities of New Hollywood with a torrid tale of an ex-con and a disaffected teenager caught in a sexually charged folie a deux. (Longtime Tarantino fans will also recognize the brassy trains of “Funky Fanfare,” the snippet of music that National Screen Service used to mark the end of the pre-show and beginning of the feature throughout this period.) As for the drive-in itself, it hung in there longer than any other outdoor theater in the San Fernando Valley before being torn down to make way for a high school in the late ‘90s. The school’s mascot is The Vaqueros, a tribute to the cowboy on the drive-in’s famous sign whose bucking bronco lorded over the lot for nearly 50 years. [Katie Rife]

Robert Goulet

As Cliff arrives back at his trailer on February 8, we very pointedly see vocalist Robert Goulet performing on his TV screen, singing “MacArthur Park.” And Goulet did appear that night in an ABC show called The Hollywood Palace, a midseason variety show replacement for The Jerry Lewis Show. Featuring Goulet is a very deliberate choice: he’s like the musical version of DiCaprio’s character Rick Dalton. By this point, the high point of Goulet’s career—playing Lancelot on Broadway opposite Julie Andrews and Richard Burton in Camelot—was also years behind him, and the rest of his career primarily consisted of guest-starring TV appearances on variety shows like this one, dramas like Police Story, and a variety of game shows (although he did get his own special in 1970). Jimmy Webb’s 1968 hit “MacArthur Park” was a favorite of Goulet’s, a detailed account of the end of a relationship; perhaps Tarantino appreciates the song’s poignant but picturesque descriptive elements, like the old men playing Chinese checkers and the cake getting left out in the rain. [Gwen Ihnat]

Anne Francis

With those striking blue eyes and iconic mole, there’s no mistaking Anne Francis on the pin-up poster that adorns Cliff Booth’s Van Nuys trailer. Best known for her role in Forbidden Planet—which earned her a nod in“Science Fiction, Double Feature” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show—Francis appeared on most of the big television shows of the day, from The Untouchables to The Twilight Zone. In 1965, she was cast as private investigator Honey West, a show that, despite running for only one season, quickly developed a cult following. Produced by Aaron Spelling, West was an American answer to the British Avengers and featured Francis as one of the first female private investigators on TV, cruising around in a bitchin’ convertible Shelby Cobra with her pet ocelot. [Mike Vanderbilt]

Three In The Attic

Released in December of 1968, Three In The Attic is still playing in February 1969 in Tarantino’s Hollywood. Attic stars Christopher Jones as Paxton Quigley, a ladies’ man dividing his time between three girlfriends; when the girls discover Quigley’s deception, they lock him up in an attic and do with him whatever they want (oh no!). Roger Ebert called Attic “a frustrating movie because it could have been so good and occasionally is so good and yet it finally loses its nerve and collapses into a routine gutless exploitation picture.” That last bit is to be expected—it was released by American International Pictures, after all. [Mike Vanderbilt]

Jack Davis

Cliff has a copy of the February 8, 1969 issue of TV Guide in his trailer, the cover of which puts Mount Rushmore heads, scuba-fin feet, and pipe-cleaner legs on Martin Landau, Peter Graves, and their Mission: Impossible co-stars. The caricatures are the unmistakable work of the late Jack Davis, whose illustrations and designs enlivened newsstands, movie-theater lobbies, and the animated productions of Rankin/Bass throughout the latter half of the 20th century. In the world of Once Upon A Time, he even took on the star of Bounty Law, giving Rick’s rec-room decor faux-Davis renditions of Jake Cahill fronting TV Guide and the storied publication that claimed the cartoonist as one of its “Usual Gang of Idiots”: MAD Magazine. (The cherry on top of that cover: The “ECCH!” flag issuing from cartoon Rick’s sidearm.) [Erik Adams]

The Golden Stallion

A poster of the 1949 Roy Rogers Western The Golden Stallion isn’t just displayed in Rick’s house because it’s his favorite genre. Quentin Tarantino is fascinated by this little-known film and its director, William Witney; it’s also the movie playing in the background when the Bride confronts Bill in Kill Bill, Volume 2. Witney had a long Hollywood career as basically a utility director, starting out in serials like Zorro Rides Again in the ‘30s, and directing tons of TV Westerns like Bonanza and Wagon Train. (One of his last movies was the blaxploitation film Darktown Strutters in 1975.) Roy Rogers was known as the smiling, singing cowboy, usually accompanied by his horse, Trigger, and his wife, Dale Evans. The Golden Stallion goes a bit deeper than Rogers’ films usually did, however. Trigger gets second billing (yes, above Rogers’ wife), as Rogers falsely confesses to a killing the horse is being blamed for, and winds up on a chain gang. As Tarantino told The New York Times in 2000, “You know, in some movies, a cowboy might go to jail to save his best friend from being shot down dead. Well, Trigger is Roy’s best friend. It’s the easiest leap to have him do that here, yet it’s so powerful and so unexpected. What’s great is that you buy it, you absolutely buy it, and I don’t know that I really would buy it from anybody else but Roy and Trigger.” Seems an appropriate nod in a movie about two best friends—and one of the friends’ dog. [Gwen Ihnat]

Pandora’s Box

He doesn’t pick her up until later in the film, but in the first scene where Cliff sees—and wordlessly flirts with—Pussycat (Margaret Qualls) as she hitchhikes through Hollywood, the Manson follower is sitting in front of a piece of history. The pink-and-orange building behind her is a replica of Pandora’s Box, a popular all-ages coffeeshop/nightclub on the Sunset Strip that was the epicenter of the groovy Hollywood “youthquake” in the early-to-mid ‘60s; interestingly, the actual Pandora’s Box was shut down following an infamous anti-curfew protest held outside the club in November 1966, about which Buffalo Springfield later wrote the song “For What It’s Worth.” The fact that the building still appears functional three years later in Tarantino’s 1969 points towards another death knell for youth culture averted in his alternate-history version of the ‘60s. [Katie Rife]

London Fog

When Sam Wanamaker is describing his vision for Rick Dalton’s villainous character on the Lancer pilot, he tells costume designer Rebecca that he “should be able to walk into London Fog” and fit right in with the long-haired hipsters. Like Pandora’s Box, the other legendary L.A. nightclub that makes an appearance in Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood, the real London Fog was located on the Sunset Strip, right down the street from the Whisky a Go Go. (Speaking of, London Fog was best known for hosting The Doors’ first gigs before they became the house band at the more popular Whisky.) Also like Pandora’s Box, London Fog was closed by 1969, meaning that either Sam’s references are a bit out of date or Tarantino is bending history to suit his vision. Probably a little bit of both. [Katie Rife]

“Sock It To Me!”

The phrase “sock it to me” would have been familiar to just about everyone in 1969. It can be heard in Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” and not one but two tunes from Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, “Devil In A Blue Dress” & “Sock It To Me Baby.” It even appeared in a 1968 episode of The Avengers. But it entered the national lexicon when, clad in a flowered bikini, Goldie Hawn uttered the now ubiquitous phrase on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In in 1968, taking a phrase previously popular among Black musicians and launching it into the white mainstream. A large button featuring the catchphrase adorns Lancer costume designer Rebecca’s leather jacket, and for you cosplayers out there, the vintage pin can be picked up relatively cheap on Etsy. [Mike Vanderbilt]

“The Three Georges”

While on the set of Lancer, Rick mentions to series lead James Stacy that he was up against “the three Georges” for the role of Captain Virgil Hilts in The Great Escape. Those three Georges—Peppard, Maharis, and Chakiris—were all popular leading men of the era: Peppard is best remembered for his roles in Breakfast At Tiffany’s and The A-Team, while Maharis portrayed Buz Murdock for three seasons of the popular series Route 66 before settling in to television guest spots. (He even took over the role of Guy Woodhouse in the 1972 made-for-TV oddity Look What’s Happened To Rosemary’s Baby.) Chakiris, meanwhile, won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Bernardo, leader of the Sharks in 1961’s West Side Story. [Mike Vanderbilt]

Don’t Make Waves

A poster of this 1967 film is hanging on the wall at Sharon Tate’s home for good reason: She co-starred in the Beach Party-esque sex farce. Starring Tony Curtis as a guy looking for a fresh start in Malibu, only to wind up meeting Tate’s surfer named—wait for it—Malibu, Don’t Make Waves was produced in the waning days of the beach movie trend. But it did get Tate prominently into the public eye: Cardboard cutouts of her bikini-clad character graced theaters around the country, and a nationwide Coppertone ad campaign linked to the film got her even more attention. [Alex McLevy]

C.C. And Company

Tarantino lets most of the trailer for the 1970 biker flick C.C. And Company play behind the scene where Sharon Tate settles in to a matinee of her movie The Wrecking Crew; if this seems like a tacit movie recommendation, it is. Joe Namath—yes, that Joe Namath—stars as a lone wolf biker, and while he’s obviously not a professional actor, Namath does have a strange magnetism that keeps the movie compelling, or at least watchable, despite your typical overabundance of motorcycle (and dirt bike!) footage. Tarantino cracks up describing the opening scene of C.C. And Company on the Pure Cinema Podcast, and we have to agree. It’s a good one. It’s also representative of the New Hollywood that was making the studio system quake in its boots in 1969: The film was distributed by AVCO Embassy, an indie studio that got its start distributing the original Godzilla in the U.S. before becoming a major player with The Graduate in 1967. [Katie Rife]

Image for article titled Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood... annotated
Graphic: Natalie Peeples, Screenshot: YouTube

The Pussycat Theater

The provocative marquee of the Pussycat Theater, one in a chain of X-rated theaters that spread throughout Southern California in the ‘60s and ‘70s, purrs seductively in the background throughout Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood. Cliff passes it in one of the film’s many driving scenes, as the marquee advertises a double feature of the NYC sexploitation picture Babette (1968)—starring Linda Boyce as an enterprising young lady who will “do pretty much anything with pretty much anyone” as long as the price is right—along with The Turn On!, which may be an alternate title for 1969's Turn On To Love, or could be fictional. Our research was inconclusive on this one. What isn’t fictional is the exchange Sharon and Jay have later in the film, where Sharon asks if “dirty movies” have premieres, to which Jay replies in the affirmative as he pulls her into El Coyote for dinner. (Fun fact: They’re not talking about the Pussycat in that scene. They’re talking about the theater Tarantino now owns, the New Beverly Cinema, which is right down the block from El Coyote and was an adult theater in the ‘60s and ‘70s.) Full-on XXX pornography hadn’t quite broken through to the mainstream in 1969, but a few short years later theaters around L.A. would host the premieres of multiple entries into the so-called “golden age of porn.” [Katie Rife]

Linda And Abilene

This may be one of the less historically rigorous details in Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood, given that the movie wasn’t released in U.S. theaters until September 1969, but seeing the poster for Linda And Abilene hanging up in George Spahn’s cabin is still a treat. Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis, Linda And Abilene is one of three low-budget softcore films from the “Godfather of Gore” that were thought to be lost forever until Vinegar Syndrome found them and put them out on Blu-ray in 2013. It was also filmed on the Spahn Movie Ranch while Charles Manson and his followers were living there. (A “family” member named Bill Vance appears as a featured extra in this incest-obsessed “sex Western,” which was indeed a thing in the late ‘60s.) According to the Blu-ray liner notes by Casey Scott, Lewis dismissed Manson’s followers, who stood around gawking at the sex scenes as they were bring filmed, as “goofy kids … stoned out of their heads.” [Katie Rife]

Image for article titled Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood... annotated
Graphic: Natalie Peeples, Screenshot: YouTube

Hopalong Cassidy

Rick Dalton has a soft spot for Hopalong Cassidy in Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood, counting a collection of mugs featuring the fictional cowboy among the Western collectibles he keeps on the shelf above his in-home bar. He even picks up a fourth mug to complete the set while he’s abroad in Europe, and the collectibles-obsessed Tarantino makes a point of including an insert shot of Rick’s hand placing the new mug next to the others when Rick, Cliff, and Francesca return to L.A. Where the younger characters in the film grew up with Rick Dalton as Jake Cahill on Bounty Law, Dalton himself grew up with Hopalong Cassidy, who was played by actor William Boyd—himself past his prime when he got the role in 1935—in a series of more than 50 B-Westerns in the 1930s. The character was revived in the late ‘40s for the then-new medium of television, sparking a craze for Westerns that later catapulted Rick to stardom. Boyd didn’t die until 1972, so who knows—maybe Rick got the chance to work with his idol before he rode off into the sunset permanently. [Katie Rife]

Telly Savalas

On a poster for one of Rick’s spaghetti Westerns, Red Blood Red Skin, it’s noted that he co-stars with Telly Savalas. In real life, the famously bald Greek actor was on a bit of a hot streak at the time, after co-starring in The Dirty Dozen in 1967 and appearing in Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969. So his appearance bodes well for Rick’s cinematic career. Savalas’ iconic role was just around the corner, though; he played lollipop-sucking lieutenant Kojack from 1973 to 1978, followed by a series of TV movies. Random Savalas fun fact: He’s Jennifer Aniston’s godfather. [Gwen Ihnat]

Antonio Margheriti

Rick Dalton goes to Italy to shoot a movie with Sergio Corbucci (see our Intermediate Studies section), but while he’s there he also hooks up with Antonio Margheriti, another real-life Italian director. Unlike Western specialist Corbucci, Margheriti was a bit of a tourist in the genre, fitting in a handful of then-trendy cowboy movies in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s before going back to the B-grade sci-fi and horror movies that make up most of his oeuvre. (On that note, Margheriti’s best-known film is the cheesy 1983 prehistoric adventure Yor, The Hunter From The Future.) But while short, Margheriti’s stint in the Old West was also successful, producing the pulpy Vengeance (1968) and nihilistic And God Said To Cain (1970), the latter staring Klaus Kinski as a pardoned criminal wreaking vengeance upon the men who framed him. And as sometimes happens with these Easter eggs, the name “Antonio Margheriti” also connects to the larger Tarantino-verse: It’s the fake name Eli Roth’s “Bear Jew” gives to Hans Landa when he poses as an Italian cameraman in Inglourious Basterds. [Katie Rife]

Moving Target

In the mid ‘60s, former TV cowboy Ty Hardin made his way to Italy, where he cranked out a series of spaghetti Westerns—and Sergio Corbucci’s kinetic, massively entertaining 1967 spy thriller Moving Target, a.k.a. Death On The Run. In the film, Hardin plays an international superspy in a stylish Harrington jacket and driver’s cap known simply as Jason. (Tarantino has described the character as a proto-Jason Bourne.) No stranger to “borrowing” footage, Tarantino repurposes the car chase from 1967 film to stand in for Rick Dalton’s fictional Operazione Dyn-O-Mite, making a point to highlight some impressive stunt driving from Cliff Booth. [Mike Vanderbilt]

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Graphic: Natalie Peeples, Screenshot: YouTube

Krakatoa, East Of Java

For present-day denizens of Hollywood, the summer of 2018 was a real time warp, as Tarantino and crew took sections of Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards and retrofitted them into what they actually looked like back in 1969. The Cinerama Dome on Sunset, a massive 800-seat theater with a curved 70mm screen, has been a primo location for movie studios to show off their latest epics since its construction in 1963. It also looks pretty much the same as it did when it was first built, and so naturally it gets the flashback treatment in the film. Krakatoa, East Of Java, the disaster movie playing at the Cinerama in Tarantino’s Hollywood, is an interesting choice, given that the 70mm spectacular was a huge flop with both critics and audiences when it premiered in May 1969. Then again, its presence in the film does winkingly nod to the fact that overbloated, sloppily assembled—Krakatoa is actually west of Java—special effects-heavy blockbusters are nothing new. Bringing everything around full circle, Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood is playing in 70mm at the Cinerama Dome as we speak. [Katie Rife]

Seymour/Teenage Monster

The show that prompts Voytek Frykowski to meditate upon how much better American TV is than Polish TV is a late-night showing of the 1958 monster movie/Western hybrid Teenage Monster as hosted by Larry Vincent, a.k.a. Seymour. The gaunt and morbid L.A. horror host made his debut on a pair of local programs, Fright Night and Seymour’s Monster Rally, in 1969. Seymour’s deadpan commentary on the films as they aired (Vincent was fond of popping up in a small window on one corner of the screen, making a quip, and then vanishing again) made a big impact on his eventual successor, Elvira, Mistress of The Dark, who took over as host of Fright Night six years after Vincent’s sad, premature death from cancer at the age of 50 in 1975. [Katie Rife]

Also spotted: Numero Uno cologne; Screen Gems; Eddie O’Brien; Sgt. Fury and Kid Colt comic books; Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970); Heaven Sent by Helena Rubenstein; Western TV series The Big Valley (1965-1969); Joanna (1968); Pendulum (1969), Combat! (1962-1967); L.A. newscaster George Putnam; The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1969); They Came To Rob Las Vegas (1968)