Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood remains one of the most discussed films in the running for Best Picture, and the reason is audiences can’t get enough of the vintage Hollywood fantasy featuring Rick Dalton and his stunt double, Cliff Booth. While there’s a good chance we’ll see another cut of the movie with even more footage, Tarantino is giving fans something else to think about and that’s how Dalton’s career might’ve gone after the movie’s closing credits.
For those who don’t know, the film ends with Dalton and Booth giving Sharon Tate the happy ending she didn’t get in life. The duo gruesomely finished off the Manson Family members before they could murder Tate, with Dalton having one of the movie’s best moments by roasting one of them with an old flamethrower used in one of his iconic roles. Speaking with The Wrap, Tarantino says this moment would prove to be Dalton’s launching pad to a career resurgence…
“The whole incident with the flamethrower and the hippies got a lot of play. No one quite knows what a big deal that was, but it was still a big deal. And it’s a big deal that he killed ‘em with the flamethrower, with the prop from one of his most popular movies. So he starts becoming in demand again. I mean, not in demand like Michael Sarrazin at that time was in demand, but he’s got some publicity and now all of a sudden ‘The 14 Fists of McCluskey’ is playing more on Channel 5 during Combat Week and stuff. And so he gets offered a couple of features — low-budget ones, but studio ones.
But the thing is, on the episodic-TV circuit, he’s a bigger name now. He’s not quite Darren McGavin, all right? Darren McGavin would get paid the highest you could get paid as a guest star back in that time. But Rick’s about where John Saxon was, maybe just a little bit higher. So he’s getting good money and doing the best shows. And the episodes are all built around him.
So as opposed to doing ‘Land of the Giants’ and ‘Bingo Martin,’ now he’s the bad guy on ‘Mission: Impossible,’ and it’s his episode.
Oh, and he does a Vince Edwards show, ‘Matt Lincoln.’ Or a Glenn Ford show, ‘Cade’s County.’ And that’s a big deal, ’cause he did ‘Hell-Fire Texas’ with Glenn Ford and they didn’t really get along. But now they bury the hatchet and they make a big deal about the two guys doing it together. And then he does a couple of Paul Wendkos’ TV movies.
And you know, he’s doing OK.”
Sounds like Tarantino has given this some thought. Of all the Tarantino films, other than Kill Bill this is the one I’d want to see him revisit most. Hopefully he can make that happen someday.