Thursday, April 21, 2022

#2,742. Love and a .45 (1994) - Quentin Tarantino Recommends


Quentin Tarantino is on-record as being a fan of writer / director C.M. Talkington, the creative mind behind the 1994 crime / comedy Love and a .45. Tarantino has even gone so far as to call Talkington – on numerous occasions – his “Favorite imitator”.

While it’s true that the dialogue in Love and a .45 has a very “Tarantino-esque” feel to it, and the film’s penchant for over-the-top characters and sudden violence calls to mind Pulp Fiction, Talkington (who speaks very highly of Tarantino) denies his movie was in any way inspired by the Academy-Award winning filmmaker. “I finished the first draft of Love and a .45 in 1990 or ‘91”, Talkington told Slate magazine back in 2015, “and then I finished the second draft in, like 1992”.

In fact, Tarantino and Talkington first met each other at the 1994 Stockholm Film Festival, which was screening both Pulp Fiction and Love and a .45!

Petty crook Wally Watts (Gil Bellows) is in love with girlfriend Starlene Cheatham (Renee Zellweger), and intends to propose to her in the very near future. His plans are put on the back-burner, however, when he agrees to help his buddy Billy Mack Black (Rory Cochrane) rob a convenience store. The robbery is a total bust, and to make matters worse, Billy shoots the high-as-a-kite cashier (Charlotte Ross), killing her outright.

After a violent confrontation with a hard-nosed Sheriff, Wally and Starlene hit the road, stopping off to visit Starlene’s hippie parents (Ann Wedgeworth and Peter Fonda) before hightailing it to Mexico.

But with loan sharks Dinosaur Bob (Jeffrey Combs) and Creepy Cody (Jace Alexander) - as well as a pissed off Billy Mack - hot on their trail, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether the lovers will actually get their “happily ever after” ending or not.

The cast of Love and a .45 is excellent; Bellows and Zellweger (in an early screen role) are pitch-perfect as the central characters, and Jeffrey Combs lights up the screen as the totally unhinged Dinosaur Bob (a scene in which he tortures Billy Mack with a tattoo needle is tough to watch), yet it’s Ann Wedgeworth (as Starlene’s oversexed mom) and Peter Fonda (as her mute, crippled father) who steal the show.

Talkington’s dialogue, often sharp and witty, is also a highpoint (Wally’s give-and-take with a half-crazed Billy Mack in a breakfast café is as tense as they come), and the violence, often sudden, is appropriately brutal. There are some laugh-out-loud moments as well, like when Wally and Starlene stop off at a Justice of the Peace (played by Jack Nance) to get hitched, then spend their first moments as husband and wife tying the Justice to a chair so that he won’t alert the authorities!

Whether C.M. Talkington is a Tarantino imitator or not, one thing is certain: Love and a .45 is a fun, funny, highly-charged motion picture, and I recommend it.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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