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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

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Quentin Tarantino’s long-awaited first work of fiction — at once hilarious, delicious, and brutal — is the always surprising, sometimes shocking new novel based on his Academy Award- winning film.

RICK DALTON – Once he had his own TV series, but now Rick’s a washed-up villain-of-the week drowning his sorrows in whiskey sours. Will a phone call from Rome save his fate or seal it?

CLIFF BOOTH – Rick’s stunt double, and the most infamous man on any movie set because he’s the only one there who might have gotten away with murder. . . .

SHARON TATE – She left Texas to chase a movie-star dream, and found it. Sharon’s salad days are now spent on Cielo Drive, high in the Hollywood Hills.

CHARLES MANSON – The ex-con’s got a bunch of zonked-out hippies thinking he’s their spiritual leader, but he’d trade it all to be a rock ‘n’ roll star.


400 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published June 1, 2021

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About the author

Quentin Tarantino

75 books1,327 followers
Quentin Jerome Tarantino is an Academy Award- and Palme d'Or-winning American film director, screenwriter and actor. He rose to fame in the early 1990s as an independent filmmaker whose films used nonlinear storylines and stylized violence. His films include Reservoir Dogs (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), Jackie Brown (1997), Kill Bill (Vol. 1 2003, Vol. 2 2004), Death Proof (2007), and Inglourious Basterds (2009).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,285 reviews
Profile Image for Tim.
476 reviews616 followers
July 5, 2021
For best review reading experience, listen to this song while reading.

Tim Riley, in association with goodreads reviews, presents:

A novelization of the Ninth film of Quentin Tarantino

In the 350th review by Tim Riley:

(The publisher is also to be commended for that cover, and the fact that the initial release is a massmarket paperback, keeping with the film novelizations from the era... it even includes advertisements for other books published around the time)

Before we discuss the book, let's discuss the film for a moment (and if you do not like digressions about film, let's cut to the chase and say right now that you're not going to like this book). Tarantino is, in my not-so-humble opinion, one of the most consistent directors. I love his films for the most part and honestly, "Once Upon a Time In Hollywood" despite being one of his lesser loved films, is actually one of my favorites from the director. I like that it's a less action oriented story and more of a personal drama. In many ways it is his most experimental because it is a character piece from a plot stand point, but overall it's more about a time and place than it even is about the plot… it actually has the most potential of all of his movies into making it as a novel (except Jackie Brown… because, well, it was one).

Well, we all knew Tarantino could write screenplays, but could he pull off a novel? Answer: just about. This book is very much what could have happened if you combined Elmore Leonard with Michael Crichton. It has Leonard's characterization and dialogue and Crichton's love of digressions and facts mixed in with his fiction (though instead of science, it's film history). Now this leads to the fact that in many ways, this book is a jumbled mess. To be fair, the film was as well to a certain extent. It was an extremely polished film, but frustrating with flashbacks inside flashbacks and various other tricks like that. Here we'll be in the middle of a scene and Tarantino will then lovingly give you a five page history lesson on Akira Kurosawa or the importance of I Am Curious (Yellow) in terms of cinema history.

If you did not like the cutaways in the film, you're really not going to have a good time. He has a tendency to jump to the past or even the future for part of a scene and then come back to the present. Some could even argue that he has a tendency of spoiling his own story for you if you haven't seen the film. You'll get a scene with characters in the future recounting something that is in the movie (but interestingly not in the book) and it makes for a very strange experience. Personally I'm not as averse to spoilers as some people, but I can clearly see where these aspects would frustrate people

His career as a screenwriter is also clear in how he writes. Everything is happening in the present tense as in a screenplay. While I've seen authors use this before, here it feels less stylistic and more relying on simply another style of writing.

Yep. Overall it feels like a weird and unpolished novel.

It's also a lot of fun.

This is not going to be a book for everyone, but despite its flaws, Tarantino has crafted an interesting debut novel. While I mentioned earlier that he relies on screenwriting style, this is not just a copy of the screenplay. This is a VERY different book from the movie with several new scenes and several scenes that were in the film and not in the book The book feels more grounded in reality and also feels like a more personal story. The plot aspect really is about Rick and how he's coming to terms with his career and where it needs to head if he's continuing. It's in every scene with him, sometimes blatantly, but often quite subtlety. It's a personal journey, and while at times the book feels "plotless" it creates a wonderful character study as well as capturing a time and place.

Yes, Tarantino goes off on film digressions that stop the "action" of the story… every single one of them is important. He's setting the time and place. He's showing you how Hollywood worked at the time. He's showing where it tried to evolve and where it was stuck until something pushed it forward. Each of these is a factor that explain in a way why Rick makes the decisions he does. Hollywood was undergoing big changes at the time. In the sixties it was caught in a war between old Hollywood and modern Hollywood. Should it keep westerns the family friendly clean affair of the John Wayne films of the past or go with the gritty R rated style the Italians were making? Should it reject the counterculture youth in favor of presenting the "family values" of the 50s, or should it show that families weren't always the perfect places and sometimes split up (as perfectly portrayed in how Charles Manson recruited members to his "family). There's a lot of moving parts, some of which feel pointless from a "let's get to from point A to point B" narrative… all of it though feels like capturing a moment in time.

Look, this is either going to be a book you dig despite of (or because of) Tarantino's quirks or absolutely hate. I was completely all in. I loved the old Hollywood feel. I delighted in the fact that the book feels more like a Hollywood history lesson at times more than an actual novel… though Tarantino is clearly having a blast mixing in blatantly false information with his facts as some of them involve how real people went on to make films with his fictional ones (including how one of them would later make a film with Quentin Tarantino). I had fun seeing aspects of our characters we didn't get in the film (Cliff has a top five Akira Kurosawa film list and that brought a smile to my face). This is a novel that, just like the movie, if really about a love of film and cinema. If you're not here for that, skip it. I won't blame anyone for not liking it, I'll admit now my score is probably generous, but that's because it hit on subjects that I too love. It was written with me as a target audience member… not everyone will be. A solid 4/5 stars and a big hope that Tarantino decides to write another novel.

In honor of Cliff's list, here's my own off-topic movie tangent with my personal top 5 Kurosawa film list:

1. Seven Samurai
2. Rashomon
3. Yojimbo
4. Throne of Blood
5. High and Low
Profile Image for R..
897 reviews111 followers
August 17, 2021
Bypassing the hardback, straight to a pulp paperback drugstore spinner rack sized edition! Yezzzz
Profile Image for Allie.
1 review16 followers
July 1, 2021
Considering that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is my favorite film, and Quentin Tarantino is my favorite film maker, I was very very excited for this book to be released. I bought it the day it came out, started it right away… and was disappointed by the end of the second chapter.

My main issue with this is the amount of information that is given, most of it being useless.
There are multiple chapters about characters within the show Lancer… characters who are not real within this universe. I was confused on why this mattered, given it contributes absolutely nothing to the plot.
Also we learn the backstory to Roman Polanski’s film Rosemary’s Baby, which also gives nothing to the story. I understand Tarantino finds this interesting, but I do not, given that I read this novel for a tale of a struggling actor in the 1960’s, not a collection of fun facts surrounding figures of Old Hollywood.

The novel starts with Rick Dalton having a conversation with agent Marvin Schwarz. The chapter goes on for twenty four pages, and is mainly just Rick explaining all of the films and television shows he has done, along with people he has met. Now to a certain extent, this is interesting. It gives some backstory to Rick (which is something that I was really looking forward to in this novel, and was not given), but after ten pages of references to various figures and movies from the 1960’s that most people have never even heard of, it gets a little old.

Then the second chapter happens, which I hated even worse than the first one. This chapter is almost entirely the character Cliff’s opinions on film, which I assume is just a self-insert for Tarantino himself. For about twenty pages, we have to read about foreign films from the 60’s. Sorry, but if I had wanted to read about Japanese film exports, I would have found a nonfiction book about them, not a novel.
And yes, I know the movie, and by extension, this novel, is a love letter to Old Hollywood. But must I read page after page about a fictional character’s opinion on films that has absolutely nothing to do with the plot?

And on the topic of Cliff’s character… it is horrible. I have seen Once Upon a Time in Hollywood many times, and the Cliff there is not the same in this novel. He is misogynistic, only caring about having sex with women. He is racist (the whole Bruce Lee scene), and homophobic (he uses the f slur three times in one page). He pursues Pussycat, even though he admits that he does not know how old she is, but believes she is under eighteen. He is a war hero, but only uses that status when it lets him get away with murder (this literally happens twice). He also fights dogs and considers becoming a pimp. And why am I supposed to like this character? Although Tarantino tries to make him a ‘cool guy’ by giving him a backstory that portrays him as someone who is untouchable, (all I wanted was a backstory for Rick and got nothing, but we must hear about Cliff’s killing of Japanese soldiers on multiple occasions) he has pretty much no redeeming qualities, and is a far cry from the man who was in the film.

Continuing on with characters, it seemed that I was supposed to sympathize with Charles Manson. Right after a chapter which brutally accounts Cliff’s gruesome, cold blooded murder of his wife, whom he pretty much says deserved it because she was a bitch, we get a chapter about how poor, pitiful ‘Charlie’ just wants to be a rock star and is sad after he gets stood up by a representative of a recording label. I’m not sure what Tarantino’s intentions were here. Are we supposed to feel sorry for him? In no universe will I ever give that man sympathy, and I’m not sure why Tarantino would even try to evoke that from his readers.
I will say, I enjoyed learning more about the Manson Family, within this universe, but not all of it. Pussycat’s story was uncomfortable. The amount of sexualization of a girl who we never learn if she is even legal or not was not something I enjoyed reading. (We do hear about her having sex with older men when she is 14, so there’s that).

On to positives.
Rick Dalton. For the most part, I really enjoyed all of the chapters which primarily featured him. His role in the film is one of my favorite characters of all time, so I was happy he was not given the Cliff Booth treatment and absolutely destroyed. I found his interactions with Trudi to be sweet and enjoyable to read.

Another positive for me is Sharon Tate, minus the fact she was, like the movie, barely in this novel. The scene, which mirrors the one in the film, where she goes to the theater to watch her own movie, was by FAR by favorite. Sharon’s inner dialogue is so charming, like she was in real life, and makes you root for her. If you didn’t love her before, reading this scene will do it. (Also the chapter with her hitchhiking to LA was enjoyable, minus some creepy comments about her body)
Something I, as a fan of Sharon, did not appreciate about her was when she was treated almost like a pawn between her husband Roman and Steve McQueen. This was just a small section, not even a full page, but it stuck with me. Sleeping with her was brought up, like it was a competition between the two men. I honestly found this disgusting and disrespectful. Sharon was, and is still, more than just someone that was slept with, and I find it disturbing that it is suggested otherwise.

In conclusion, this book disappointed me. I had such high expectations, and this novel reached none of them. I struggled to finish this. Tarantino makes excellent films, and I’m sorry to say, but maybe he should just stick to what he’s good at.

I would just skip this and watch the film instead.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,824 followers
July 30, 2021
I can’t believe I drank 8 whiskey sours while reading this book!

It’s 1969 and former TV star Rick Dalton’s career is on a downhill slide while his next door neighbors, Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski, are the new cool kids of Hollywood. Meanwhile, Rick’s stuntman/driver Cliff Booth has a run in with some freaky hippies who keep talking about their leader, Charlie.

This one is a real oddity. You’ve got the writer/director of a successful movie releasing a novel based on it, but the book doesn’t exactly follow the film. In fact, the climax of the movie is casually revealed about one-third of the way through the book as something that eventually happens without going into details or mentioning it again.

I’ve often thought that Quentin Tarantino’s films are kind of Rorschach tests in that people can and will read into them what they want. While he certainly deserves criticism for several things, and I often find his personality tiresome, his movies fascinate me. Particularly this one which I thought was one of his best and had really interesting themes about a time when Hollywood was both changing and remaining the same. I also thought it had a lot of intriguing things regarding movie violence vs. violence in reality. Since I had a lot of theories about what QT was actually saying about it, I enjoyed finding more details in the book that seemed to confirm that. Especially about Cliff Booth.

If you’re into the movie, it’s worth a look, but you’re also not really missing out on anything if you just want to stick to the film version. If you don’t like QT or the film, it’s not gonna change your mind. Overall, it’s kind of like a literary version of deleted scenes. They can be interesting, but were most likely cut for a reason.
Profile Image for Still.
574 reviews82 followers
July 21, 2021
This might not be the best written novel I've read this year but it's the most entertaining.
If you enjoyed the movie you will absolutely love the novelization.

Holy Christ! I was screwing around looking for more YouTube interviews with Quentin Tarantino about this novel & damned if I didn’t come across a 10-hour audiobook- a reading by one of my absolute favorite actresses (ahem … actors) Jennifer Jason Leigh!

I swear before God: she is a brilliant reader. Plus, I learned after many, many years how to pronounce Cahiers du Cinema .

I’m actually re-reading this novel along with Jennifer Jason Leigh… which is no minor kick.
Profile Image for Meike.
1,515 reviews2,460 followers
July 14, 2021
English: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
This novelization of Tarantino's ninth movie makes a bold move: The grand finale of the film is only mentioned in passing in a couple of sentences in the first third of the text, the author uses his space, time and freedom to elaborate on Rick Dalton und Cliff Booth. Quick recap: Dalton is the aging actor who wrestles with his impending lack of relevance, Booth is his stuntman and buddy who is haunted by a bad reputation. They travel through a fairy tale-like rendition of 1969 Hollywood, a beautifully shot dreamscape.

Usually, novelizations of movies are crafted in the spirit of capitalist monetization, as a means to generate more dollars, not as an artistic endeavor. It's safe to say that this author doesn't need more money though, and he also doesn't sell out. Rather, Tarantino gives us extensive backstories to his antiheroes Dalton and Booth (plus Brandy, the pitbull), we even learn what really happened to Booth's wife (in the movie, he is rumored to have killed her). The author also indulges in long discussions of classic (and less classic) hollywood movies and their impact, about directors, anecdotes from film sets, and stories about stars like, yes, Bruce Lee (whose portrayal in the movie was controversial). And it probably has become clear by now: This is not a plot-driven novel, much like the movie is not plot-driven. The text revels in scenic depictions, atmospheric dialogue as well detailed character development, and I'm here for it. Unsurprisingly, there's also a pulpy feel to the book, with simple, sometimes foul language - it's a shame that the German publisher released it in a fancy hardcover, against the author's wishes who wanted a cheap paperback aesthetic.

I just love how Tarantino unapologetically nerds out and re-creates the old Hollywood in a heightened version, hyperreal, tinted in shades of nostalgic yellow and sepia. In the movie, we see a film production without the camera, thus putting the reality in the movie on the same level as the reality created inside the movie narrative. In the novel, Tarantino does the same: He does also expand the story of "Lancer" that is shot with Dalton as the villain. The fictional characters who, in the fictional realm, are created by other fictional characters, are just as important as those who embody them.

And of course there's the melancholy of the two aging men, the standoff between old and new Hollywood, and Dalton's wish that Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate might open the gates for him. Tarantino has just re-iterated that he will only make one more movie and retire as a director with a perfect ten. Does he, a guy with a career that by now almost spans 30 years and who just bought a second movie theater to save it from being closed, sometimes feel like a nostalgic fossil, threatened by streaming platforms?

Well, he shouldn't. Tarantino is still the real deal. You can learn more about the book in our latest podcast episode (in German).
Profile Image for Soheil Khorsand.
306 reviews168 followers
September 2, 2021
گفتار اندر توصیف کتاب
ماهیچه، دنبه، نخود، لوبیا، گوجه، پیاز، سیب‌زمینی، سیر، روغن، نمک و فلفل رو می‌ریزیم در قابلمه، تا کمر درون آن آب میریزیم و گاز را روشن می‌کنیم تا پخته شود، پس از پخته شدن فارغ از مزه قطعا هم ما را سیر خواهد کرد و هم به دلیل غنی بودن از فیبر به رفع یبوست کمک خواهد کرد.

سیاهه‌ای از آنچه که خواندم و تماشا کردم
به دو دلیل نه تنها از خواندن این کتاب ناراحت نیستم بلکه خوشحال هم هستم:
اول اینکه هدیه‌ای بود که از یکی از دوستان عزیزتر از جانم دریافت کرده بودم و دوم آن‌که پس از اتمام یک رمان سنگین نیاز به چنین کتاب روان و ساده‌ای داشتم تا هم ذهنم کمی استراحت کند و هم به قول معروف بشورد و ببرد پایین... .

پیش از هرچیزی باید به دو نکته اشاره کنم:
اول اینکه قبل از خواندن کتاب، فیلمش را ندیده بودم و امروز پس از خواندن کتاب به تماشای آن نشستم، اعتراف میکنم کتاب یک سر و گردن بالاتر از فیلم بود و در فیلم چند مورد که در کتاب وجود داشت را درخود نداشت و ضمنا تماشایش نیز هیچ جذابیتی برای من نداشت.
دوم اینکه شایسته است از آقای «علیرضا شفیعی‌نسب» بابت ترجمه‌ی روان و خلاقانه‌ی ایشان تشکر کنم هر چند ایشان را از انتقاد به دور نمی‌دانم و امیدوارم اگر روزی گذرشان به این آبادی افتاد در ترجمه‌های بعدی این نکته را مد نظر قرار دهند که جک‌‌ها و شوخی‌های انگلیسی زبانان به هیچوجه شباهتی به جک‌ها و شوخی‌های ما ندارد و به همین منظور لازم نیست مترجم طنزها و شوخی‌های آنان را کاملا فارسی‌سازی کند چون ما دوست داریم ادبیات آن کشور را جذب وجود خودمان کنیم وگرنه به خواندنِ (مجدد) آثار مرحوم جمال‌زاده روی می‌آوردیم تا این کتاب‌های خارجی.

در خصوص داستان کتاب از مقدمه‌ی کتاب وام می‌گیرم و برای آن دسته از عزیزانی که نه فیلمش را دیده‌اند و نه کتابش را خوانده‌اند می‌نویسم:
«ریک دالتون(لئوناردو دی‌کاپریو) روزگاری بازیگر سریال مشهوری بوده، اما حالا دوران اوجش به پایان رسیده و برای امرار معاش به نقش‌های منفی تک قسمتی روی آورده(مشت خور فیلم‌ها شده). آیا ملاقات او با یک مدیربرنامه می‌توانید زندگی‌ش را دست‌خوش تغییر کند؟!

کیف بوث،(برد پیت در فیلم) بدل‌کار سینما است و نقش بدل‌های ریک را در سریال‌ها بازی می‌کند و همچنین زندگی‌اش پر است از لکه‌های سیاه.»

شما عزیزان در کتاب و فیلم، وقایع‌نگاری زندگی این دو بازیگر و بدلکار در کنار شارون تیت و چارلز منسون و... و همچنین تقابل‌هایشان را خواهید خواند و تماشا خواهید کرد.

متن کتاب روان بود و اعتراف می‌کنم دیشب وقتی یک سوم از کتاب را ظرف چند ساعت با علاقه بدون اینکه کنارش بگذارم خواندمش فکر نمی‌کردم به یک‌باره جریان کتاب در ادامه دست‌خوش تغییر گردید و در ادامه ساختار کتاب از یک رمان روان و دل‌نشین به یک وقایع‌نگاری ساده و گاهی خسته کننده تبدیل شود!
بیش از این به داستان کتاب ورود نمی‌کنم و در صورتیکه علاقه به خواندن این سبک از کتاب‌ها دارید و یا اینکه علاقه به سینما به خصوص هالیوود و بازیگران فوق‌الذکر دارید، خواندن آن را به شما پیشنهاد می‌کنم.

نقل‌قول نامه
«اگر می‌خواهی بفهمی کشتن آدم چه حسی داره، به لحاظ قانونی بهترین گزینه‌ای که در اختیار داری کشتن یک خوکه.»

«اگر بری تو دل ترس می‌تونی به وجود خودت غلبه کنی. غلبه بر ترس یعنی شکست‌ناپذیری»

یک ستاره بابت اینکه پس از خواندن این رمان هیچ چیزی به من اضافه نشد و در پایان کتاب مقابل آینه ایستادم و به اویی که خیلی به من شباهت دارد گفتم: خب که چه؟!؟ یک ستاره بابت اینکه نویسنده با خودش فکر کرد هرچه بیشتر بنویسد لابد کتابش بیشتر فروخته خواهد شد و یک ستاره بابت اینکه کتاب در دوسوم پایانی از حالت رمان خارج شد و بیشتر به یک فیلم‌نامه تبدیل شد از کتاب کسر و نهایتا ۲ ستاره برای این کتاب منظور می‌کنم.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,847 reviews518 followers
May 20, 2022
Rick Dalton was a TV star whose career is on the decline. His former stunt double Cliff Booth mostly works as Rick’s driver now. A lot of the book revolves around Rick’s current job as the villain in the pilot for a new TV western. This book is an entertaining companion piece to the movie. I’m not sure whether it would be as entertaining if you haven’t seen the movie. The climactic scene in the movie is just mentioned in passing in the book. I particularly liked the way that Cliff’s backstory is fleshed out in the book, including the story of his dog. The author drops the name of every actor from the 1960’s. It brought back pleasant memories. However , I got bored with the recitation of the plot of the TV pilot. There was too much detail for me. The audiobook was narrated very well by Jennifer Jason Leigh, although I do question the choice of using a female narrator for the book about 2 men.
Profile Image for Jayakrishnan.
488 reviews167 followers
February 2, 2022
Real Jayakrishnan: Admit it. It was a piece of shit. A real gorilla turd. In fact, it is a giant smelly elephant turd.

Wannabe Jayakrishnan: No. It is a work of great audacity, made by a super-spreader of American culture. Tarantino is a great soldier in the army that spreads American culture. He has introduced Charles Manson, Sharon Tate and Matt Helm to a whole new generation of millennials across the world. The man has singlehandedly extended American cultural hegemony by atleast half a century. And it is not some Jurassic Park or superhero Avengers shit. He actually made a film about his cultural obsessions that might be considered obscure in many parts of the world. Tarantino is a truly great man with a lot of balls.

Real Jayakrishnan: Jeez! You do have a point. But it is the most boring shit ever written! You've got to admit large parts of the book and even the movie are fucking tedious. Like the scene where Sharon Tate goes to watch her own movie. That part was so dull. And the long plot of the TV series Rick Dalton is acting in. Dalton's conversation with that pompous little girl. All so damn banal.

Wannabe Jayakrishnan: Well, Tarantino is constantly challenging viewers and other directors about what can be put on screen. The whole book is like his fantasy. How many directors have the guts or for that matter the clout to actually make what they want? Even the great Scorsese had to make a kids film to finance what he really wanted to make.

Real Jayakrishnan: Hmmm.

Wannabe Jayakrishnan: Most directors or for that matter writers have no freedom. They are just pussies who dish out whatever the establishment allows them to. Tarantino is a badass who is right at the centre of it all but still writes and makes whatever he wants. He is not some indie movie maker hiding away somewhere, crawling out of his hole every ten years to whine about the decline of American culture. Nor does he play by the rules. The book and film are full of scenes where he fulfills his fetish for dirty female feet.

Real Jayakrishnan: I think he could be a closet fascist bastard who is sleazy as hell. Frankly, his career has gone downhill since he started making all these revisionist history movies.

Wannabe Jayakrishnan: They all made money. Everyone loved these films. Sure Kill Bill 2 was probably his last great movie. But you've got to admit the stuff he made since then are all very interesting. Not perfect maybe. They were too talky. Needed more action. But still better than 99% of all mainstream or even independent American movies.

Real Jayakrishnan: The guy needs a strict producer like the Kirk Douglas character in The Bad and the Beautiful, who tells him what to do. Someone who keeps him grounded and not just take off on flights of fancy.

Wannabe Jayakrishnan: Not too sure about that. I mean look at the scope of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - Manson, 60s Hollywood, stuntmen, alcoholism, ageing, Aldo Ray, Italian westerns. Damn!

Real Jayakrishnan: Anyone who knows how to look up IMDB trivia could have written this book. You know that is the truth.

Wannabe Jayakrishnan: You've got a point there.

Real Jayakrishnan: In the book, Cliff Booth is nothing more than a mouthpiece for Tarantino's opinions on movies and directors.

Wannabe Jayakrishnan: I think Tarantino is done writing action and thrilling scenes for the sake of it. That's why the two most thrilling scenes in the movie are reduced to almost nothing in the book. He is going deep into his obsessions. The guy has nine consecutive box office hits. Nobody can tell him what to make and write.

Real Jayakrishnan: OK man. You can stay on your Tarantino bandwagon. He isn't going to be around for too long making movies.

Wannabe Jayakrishnan: Sure man. It's really nice and cozy in here. It is a cornucopia of pleasant surprises and he has said he will become a full time writer of novels.
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,485 reviews12.8k followers
August 10, 2021
It’s 1969, Hollywood, and Rick Dalton, an aging, washed-up, alcoholic actor, is looking for work - and finds it, playing the villain (he used to play heroes when he was younger), on a new cowboy TV show. Joining Rick on his slide down from the top is his best friend and stuntman stand-in (when Rick needed it), Cliff Booth. Together they navigate a strange path through a changing film industry and encounter up-and-coming actors, uppity agents, and hippies - hippies are everywhere. And some of them, like spurned wannabe rock star Charlie Manson, are gonna take out their frustrations on the unwitting residents of the Hollywood Hills…

Quentin Tarantino’s debut novel, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is, like his films, a banger! It’s such a fun read. The dialogue is sparkling and the characters are so memorable - aside from child actor Trudi’s surname (it’s Frazer), I didn’t need to look up any of the characters’ full names; they’re so well realised and seared into my mind that I could easily recall all of them. And that’s rare in most books, even for the good ones. Tarantino is a consummate storyteller and he excels at this regardless of the medium.

Rick in particular is such an amazing character. He’s dopey but lovable, and surprisingly smart at times, like when he shines on camera. He’s vulnerable - an alcoholic as a result of being undiagnosed bipolar - but also very arrogant and proud. Still, I was rooting for him every step of the way.

The movie has this over the book: Leo’s performance is far better than the novel Rick’s was. Rick going to town in a fit of self-loathing in the safety of his trailer, and the scene on the set of the western where he pulls off that stellar performance as Caleb the villain, are so good because of DiCaprio’s acting talent - we only get a whiff of that brilliance in the novel.

Cliff in the novel is a much darker person, especially as Tarantino sheds more light on the character’s murders, post-military. And yet we still like the guy and never see him as anything less than a good dude. It’s amazing how Tarantino creates such fully-developed characters. The child actor Trudi and the agent Marvin are also standouts for me.

The likeability of such flawed characters is due in large part to the playful tone of the story (“Once upon a time…”). A lot of dark things happen in this book but there’s plenty of upbeat, amusing episodes woven in amidst them too, so I found myself laughing a bunch throughout.

There are also knowing nods to Tarantino’s movies, like the appearance of Red Apple Cigarettes, and Cliff being dubbed “Mr Blond” by one of the Manson girls. And a specific namecheck by the author regarding future movies young Trudi grows up to feature in, which is a fun easter egg.

Tarantino does tend to be overly descriptive though. He can’t ever just tell you characters go to a bar - he has to describe every single detail of the bar. Like in the Drinker’s Hall of Fame chapter, where he tells you every photo on the wall and whether they’re signed or not. Numerous passages, and a fair number of chapters, are like this - giving you too much information that doesn’t really make a difference, one way or the other to the story, which can be annoying at times.

And then there’s the story itself which is murky at best. Tarantino rarely gets out of third gear and ambles his way through the novel from beginning to end. It’s very slow going at times - if you’re a story-driven reader. If you’re all about the characters, then you’re not going to mind. And since this is about the characters, and they’re written so damn perfectly, then it didn’t bother me much. Still, a tighter, more focused, more driven narrative would’ve made this a much better novel, I think.

I’m gonna pause here and bid adieu to those of you who haven’t read this yet and are going to - even those who’ve seen the movie before and intend to read this - so this is the end of my non-spoilery review: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is my favourite novel I’ve read this year, it’s really entertaining and I recommend it. If you saw the movie and wanted to know more about the characters, this novel provides that. It’s also, surprisingly, not a straight retelling of the movie, which, in a way, makes it somewhat new - novel, even - and more intriguing for Tarantino fans.

Here on out: SPOILERS! You’ll see why when you read the book.

Okey dokey artichokey?


One of the fantastic, and unexpected, aspects of the novel is that it mimics the movie’s subversion of audience expectations - in a completely new way. To those of us who knew about the Tate/LaBianca murders, we thought we knew what to expect once Charlie Manson and the Family were introduced and a pregnant Sharon Tate showed up. Uh oh. Poor Sharon. That bastard Charlie. And then the ending of the movie flipped those expectations as the Family wound up at Sharon’s fictional neighbour’s house instead, where Rick, Cliff, and Cliff’s dog Brandy, brutally thwarted their murderous plans, thus giving the movie a surprising and upbeat (albeit extremely violent) ending.

Tarantino’s novel of his movie’s story is different in a number of ways, the most surprising being that, about a quarter of the way into the novel, the movie’s conclusion gets tossed off in a page or so; the book’s conclusion is instead a much more lo-fi scene where Rick and Trudi go over the following day’s scenes on the phone.

And I think that’s not just brilliant but also a strong selling point of this book: even if you’ve seen the movie, this novel isn’t that. It’s not a straightforward retelling of the movie - it’s a similar story but told differently, which, in a way, makes it a new kind of beast.

There’s a lot more on the characters in general. We get the story of how Cliff got his dog Brandy; the story of Cliff murdering his wife; there’s a lot more on Charlie Manson, who basically had a walk-on in the movie, but figures more prominently here; there’s more background on actors “tagging” stuntmen (where an actor accidentally - or not - hits a stuntman) which explains why Cliff came to fight Bruce Lee in a studio backlot; and a great deal more on the story of the TV show Lancer, which Rick is shooting.

There’s also scenes here that were filmed but got cut out of the movie and, as far as I know, haven’t been released yet as extras, or possibly incorporated into a future director’s cut of the movie. Like the amusing scene with Raymond, Jay Sebring’s English butler, which was filmed with Mr Orange himself, Tim Roth, as the butler, and the final scene of this book, with Rick and Trudi on the phone. If you’re interested in seeing how those scenes played out, then they’re all here in this book. That’s the beauty of the novel: Tarantino doesn’t have to cut anything to fit a 2.5 hour playing time - he can include them all. But, as I said above, that also does make for a sometimes plodding read (there’s a reason they were cut to begin with).

Which remains my main criticism of this book: there’s a wee bit too much here. And this is why I called spoilers above. In the movie, it makes sense to have scenes with Sharon Tate and the Manson Family. We’re expecting this to culminate in the real life tragedy of Sharon’s bloody death and Tarantino happily leads us to that supposed conclusion only to hoodwink us at the end.

In this book, because that conclusion is dealt with so briskly and so early in the narrative, never to be revisited, it makes all of the scenes featuring Sharon Tate, Roman Polanski, and the Manson Family, completely pointless. This book has nothing to do with the Manson Family Murders and doesn’t even pretend to be - so why have anything related to that here?

I suppose the Manson Family stuff is mostly interesting - and Cliff going to the spooky Spahn Ranch to visit the blind George Spahn, in thrall to the Family, remains a great scene - but the Sharon and Roman parts really weren’t. And could’ve been an easy cut.

Because, instead of the Manson Family’s would-be murderousness, the novel is really about the celebration of actors - particularly lesser known actors - and the even less well-known people behind the camera, like stuntmen. Hence the main characters being a washed up TV star and his dubious stuntman, and why seemingly irrelevant chapters like the one about tragic real life actor Aldo Ray, who became a full blown alcoholic and fell from making studio features to appearing in smaller and sleazier movies over the course of his life, are included.

It’s why Cliff fights Bruce Lee - and wipes the floor with him. Cliff represents the little guy - the guy who helps make the movies happen but doesn’t get the adulation that international movie stars like Bruce Lee do. To Tarantino, the unknown stuntman is cooler than the movie star, famous to millions, and this fight symbolises that succinctly. It’s also why he included so many lesser known actors to modern audiences in his movies like David Carradine and Pam Grier, and, later on, stunt people like Zoe Bell.

This story is also a poignant love letter to filmmaking and filmmakers. The sheer mass of film detail Tarantino rattles off effortlessly throughout speaks to the author’s passion for the medium. And it’s poignant too given that Tarantino is one movie away from retirement (he says he’ll only make ten movies and then quit - he counts Kill Bill as one movie, by the by) and will soon be walking away from this business that’s been so good to him, and he’s done so much good for.

I say “retirement” - he’s really transitioning careers from movies to books; he’ll continue telling his stories but this is going to be his chosen medium going forward. And, if this novel is an indication, he’ll be equally as successful in the world of books as he was in the movies. Regardless of my criticisms, this is a great book, I had a lot of fun reading it, and I look forward to many more in the years to come. And we’ll still get Tarantino movies too in a way - I’m sure the film rights to the books will be bought and adapted by other directors.

“Once Upon a Time…” stories tend to close with “The End” but this one is a beginning - and a very promising one it is too.

(And yes, I’m aware that my criticism of verbosity is ironic given that this review turned out to be my longest in quite some time!)
Profile Image for Gianfranco Mancini.
2,197 reviews754 followers
September 17, 2021

Fece un tentativo con Bergman, ma era troppo noioso. Provò con Fellini, e all'inizio lo prese bene. Se solo non ci fossero state le stronzatine alla Charlot che faceva la moglie. Anzi, meglio ancora se la moglie non ci fosse stata proprio. I suoi primi film in bianco e nero, certo, erano proprio belli. Ma dopo che Fellini decise che la vita era un circo, Cliff gli disse: "Arrivederci."

Questo C'era una volta a Hollywood, primo romanzo scritto da Quentin Tarantino, doveva essere in teoria la novelization dell'omonimo nono, e purtroppo forse ultimo, film scritto, sceneggiato e diretto, dal regista americano.

"Hai mai visto un western italiano?" ribatte prontamente Rick, per poi darsi subito la risposta. "Sono orribili! Sono una farsa!"
"E quanti ne hai visti?" obietta Cliff. "Uno? Due?"
"Ne ho visti abbastanza!" afferma Rick con autorevolezza.
"A nessuno piacciono gli spaghetti western."
"Scommetto che c'è qualche italiano cui piacciono," dice Cliff a mezza voce.

Il libro si è rivelato essere invece, inaspettatamente e piacevolmente, non tanto un adattamento romanzato dell'ultimo film appartenente alla Trilogia del Revisionismo Storico tarantiniana, quanto un compendio ad esso che ne riprende ed approfondisce considerevolmente trama, vicende e personaggi, aggiungendo ma anche sfrondando qualcosa, il tutto saltando avanti ed indietro nel tempo senza alcuna regola: il finale del film viene anticipato a pag. 119 e liquidato in poche righe con qualche piccola ma fondamentale differenza, stesso dicasi per la scena post-credits che fa capolino da qualche parte prima o dopo, non ricordo bene, o addirittura quando l'amato cane dei coniugi Polanski muore investito, per poi trotterellare scodinzolante nuovamente nello stesso capitolo, quasi come un novello gatto di Schrödinger.

Poi Evans e la sua squadra fecero la loro parte, escogitando uno dei migliori lanci pubblicitari dell'epoca e montando un trailer pazzesco
che per certi versi è anche meglio del film. Il risultato fu un enorme successo che rese Polanski non solo uno dei registi più ricercati di Hollywood, ma anche un'icona della cultura pop (è menzionato in una canzone del musical rock
Hair) e il primo vero regista rockstar.

Ho apprezzato molto quando le scene in cui Rick Dalton sta girando l'episodio pilota della serie western Lancer si mescolano fondendosi a quelle che sembrano essere tratte dal copione del suddetto pilot, una sceneggiatura in piena regola dove la storia prende vita trasformandosi in uno splendido racconto a parte.

Quando Cliff aveva chiesto al ragazzo che cosa volesse, quello aveva tirato in ballo Satana, dicendo: "Sono il diavolo, e sono venuto qui a fare il suo lavoro." La polizia di L.A. ipotizzò che i tre fossero pieni di acido fino alle orecchie e volessero eseguire un rito satanico. L'unica certezza, comunque, è che quei tre hippie del cazzo avevano scelto la casa sbagliata.

Un racconto che si intreccia alle vite di Rick Dalton e Cliff Booth, un attore in disgrazia alcolizzato e depresso, ed uno stuntman la cui carriera è finita il giorno in cui ha sbattuto contro una macchina sul set de Il Calabrone Verde uno spocchioso ed insopportabile Bruce Lee, in una scena del film che molti hanno odiato e che, raccontata dal punto di vista di Cliff e dello stesso Lee, assume qui connotati molto meno grotteschi.

Lo scontro tra Cliff e Bruce avvenne quando Cliff era sul set del Calabrone Verde a fare la controfigura per Rick. Bruce, come al solito, si stava pavoneggiando con la troupe, quando
qualcuno gli chiese chi avrebbe vinto in un combattimento tra lui e Muhammad Ali. Era la domanda che gli veniva rivolta con maggiore insistenza, e la risposta cambiava a seconda del
suo umore.

Un Bruce Lee rappresentato fra queste pagine non solo come uno sbruffone con la mano pesante verso gli stuntmen che avevano la sfortuna di lavorare con lui, ma anche come un opportunista che insegnava arti marziali alla Hollywood bene per agevolare la propria carriera cinematografica.

Nel suo costume da autista del Calabrone Verde, Bruce assunse una posa spavalda, guardò a terra, scosse la testa e poi osservò Cliff, sorridendo. "Quanto ti piace dare aria alla bocca, stuntman. E quanto mi piacerebbe chiudertela, soprattutto davanti ai miei amici. Ma capisci, le mie mani sono registrate
come armi letali. Significa che se facciamo a botte e ti uccido accidentalmente, finisco in galera."

Un po' come faceva Charles Manson, e qui il paragone è geniale ed inquietante, quando forniva donnine allegre a certi cantautori per oliarsi le porte di una carriera in ambito musicale, una carriera mai decollata che lo porterà a pianificare una violenta vendetta contro quella Hollywood rea di avere infranto i suoi sogni artistici.

Cliff puntò l'indice verso i due. "Entrambi?"
Mike gonfiò il petto e disse: "Siamo entrambi italiani. E allora?"
Cliff sorrise, si allungò verso di loro e disse: "Sapete quanti italiani ho ucciso?"
Pat si allungò a sua volta e sussurrò: "Scusa?"
"Non avete sentito?" disse Cliff. "Allora ve lo ripeto. Avete idea di quanti italiani ho ucciso?"

Ed i capitoli dedicati a Cliff sono stati una vera sorpresa, rivelatori ogni volta di un passato sempre più oscuro ed intrigante, che getta il personaggio interpretato in maniera magistrale nel film da Brad Pitt, sotto una luce del tutto differente: una luce oscura ed inquietante.

All'inizio Cliff è incuriosito da questa comunità di ragazze che praticano il libero amore. Ma più Pussycat gli parla di questo Charlie e dei suoi insegnamenti, e più gli sembra che questo guru pace e amore non sia altro che un pappone.

Il risultato finale è decisamente strano:  sembra quasi di leggere la bozza di un romanzo incompiuto, o addirittura di stare guardando a caso una serie di scene eliminate durante la visione degli extra in un DVD o Blu Ray.

"'Sto bastardo è andato vicino tanto così..." dice avvicinando di un centimetro due dita dell'altra mano "...ad avere la parte di Steve McQueen nella Grande fuga."
Curt e Warren reagiscono con grande stupore.
"Non sono andato vicino cosi..." interviene Rick, ripetendo il gesto di Jim. "Ma tanto così," dice allargando le braccia.

Roba da farsi venire veramente il mal di testa, ma se vi lasciate trasportare dalla narrazione, nella quale traspare tutto l'amore dell'autore per il Cinema, la Hollywood degli anni '70 ed i suoi protagonisti, il risultato finale è decisamente soddisfacente, piacevole, e divertente: pagherei oro per vedere Quentin Tarantino tornare nuovamente dietro la cinepresa per girare The Lady in Red, un suo film di gangster realmente esistente nel mondo ucronico e fantastico ritratto fra queste pagine, oppure una director's cut di C'era una volta a Hollywood contenente le scene tagliate presenti in questo libro, prima tra tutte l'incontro tra Rick Dalton e Steve McQueen.

La sua unica nomination all'Oscar come miglior attrice protagonista arrivò per The Lady in Red di Quentin Tarantino, un film di gangster ambientato negli anni Trenta e tratto da una sceneggiatura di John Sayles già portata sullo schermo da Lewis Teague. Frazer interpretava Polly Franklin,
l'ex prostituta di un bordello che diventava il capo di una banda di rapinatori di banche; accanto a lei c'era Michael Madsen nella parte di John Dillinger, il nemico pubblico numero uno.

Ed il finale del libro, pur non essendo il vero finale, è una delle cose migliori che abbia mai letto in vita mia.

Titoli di coda.

Profile Image for Meesh.
10 reviews1 follower
June 30, 2021
I started reading this book late afternoon yesterday as soon as it arrived through my door and I’ve just finished it while compiling a list of every movie that was mentioned in the book at the same time (144 films, if you’re interested in the number).

It’s hard to compare the book to the film, they exist in almost two separate tales while still retaining an air of familiarity as we know scenes, characters and even some portions of dialogue from the film. The book still uses Tarantino’s brilliant non-linear story telling but gives insight into those smaller stories from the film like what happened to Cliff’s wife? how did he get Brandy? and lots more.

A movie nerds dream, this book describes in situations vivid detail with some very niche references to other films. It’s clear that the research Tarantino did for Once from an historical perspective comes to good use here, with old Hollywood tales and detailed knowledge of shops, roads and bars from the era.

An absolutely enjoyable companion to the film, that digs deeper into the characters of Rick and Cliff helping to flesh out their throughly engaging back stories with tons of detail. I only hope that if Tarantino does stop directing after his 10th movie that we still get books like this, maybe we’ll even get a novel of that long awaited Vega Brothers story? now wouldn’t that be cool.
Profile Image for Howard.
1,180 reviews73 followers
August 18, 2021
5 Stars for Once Upon a Time In Hollywood: A Novel (audiobook) by Quentin Tarantino read by Jennifer Jason Leigh.
I’m a fan of Tarantino’s movies and of course I liked this story. What really put it over the top for me was the narration. I didn’t realize that there was only one narrator till I started to do this review. I was sure that there was at least one more reading. Jennifer Jason Leigh did an amazing job narrating this audiobook. I’m going to have to see if she has narrated any thing else.
Profile Image for Jim Thomsen.
479 reviews186 followers
December 5, 2021
It seems pointless to try to critically assess ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, the novel re-imagination of Quentin Tarantino's screenplay and film, by conventional criteria. If you're reading it, you're not thinking about theme or concerning yourself with three-act structure or character arc. You're either into what Tarantino is into, or you'e not. You;'re either turning the pages of this boook with sheer delight, or you're not. Me, I'm into what Tarantino is into, as someone close to his age who shares his interest in a certain corner of a certain cultural time and place. And I turned each page with delight and also a running dread of running out of pages.

So, by that criteria, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD was a five-star experience for me. By other criteria, I think so too. Was it well-written? Well, the sentences are readable and full of fun stuff, and never lay flat on the page, even though there are long passages that read like Wikipedia entries. Again, if you love the subject, you'll devour the Wikipedia page on the subject, most likely.

So my reactions to ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD take the form of bullet points:

1. Why hasn't this been done more often? Why have unadapted screenplays developed into successful films not also been written as novels by their authors? Why has the work of the tie-in novel always been treated as a piece of downmarket hackwork on the level of the-in McDonalds drinking glasses to downmarket hack writers? Why wouldn't, say, Robert Towne write CHINATOWN, the novel? Or Joe and Ethan Coen write THE BIG LEBOWSKI, the novel? Why would that have been seen as an undesirable thing to do, or even beneath their artistic dignity? Tarantino really shouldn't be the first owner of a story for the screen to seize upon this idea.

2. As has been pointed out elsewhere, this is not a faithful reproduction of the screenplay. That would be boring, and I suspect Tarantino knew it. No, he simply developed the parts of ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD that he personally found most interesting, as is his perfect right to do, and downplayed the stuff he was less interested in. You won't find much about the big showdown between Cliff Booth and Rick Dalton and the murderous Manson disciples bent on "doing the Devil's business." But you will find even more interesting stuff, like Charles Manson's obsession with becoming a produced singer-songwriter rock star. Like Cliff Booth's history of homicide. Like just how much Rick Dalton had on the line when he did that guest spot as the villain on the pilot episode of LANCER in February 1969, and how his character's own challenges brought painful weight to bear on his own. You'll get to see more of Trudi Frazier, the little girl who plays the Lancer daughter, and not just during her shooting days with Rick, but what the decades ahead hold for her. (Hint: She is nominated three times for an Academy Award, her final time in 1999 as the female lead in "Quentin Tarantino's remake of John Sayles's script for the gangster epic The Lady In Red," opposite Michael Madsen as John Dillinger. She lost to Hilary Swank forBoys Don't Cry."

3. For those of you who have problems with how Quentin Tarantino depicts women, you won't find anything in this novel to change your mind. ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD is a story in which men are men and women are precious gems, bitches or whores, and no apologies are made for that mindset. Whether that's a reflection of the mindset of Tarantino or the mindset of its time and place is an argument I will leave to others. I certainly cringed at a lot of these passages, particularly the ones in which Cliff Booth doesn't feel particularly bad about inflicting a particularly nasty and lingering death on his wife.

4. Think about something: Of the novels you thunk are great, how amny do you think are great in part or sum because they're fun? Can a great novel be fun? Can a story that tickles you almost nonstop also be one that makes you think and engage with deeper with themes? Or are those two ideas necessarily exclusive? My experience with ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD was this: I was tickled to my toes,, and I'm thinking a lot about how art is made, how entertainment is manufactured, and how dreams and nurtured and neglected and often sacrificed on thei= altar of the devils that also inhabit the vessel that cultivate them. And yet, it was a bottomless bag of buttered and salted popcorn. I don't understand how those things can co-exist; I just know that they do, and I suspect it's because Quentin Tarantino is so filled with joy about what he gets to do and do well that you can't help getting caught up in the current of his sunlit obsessions. I guess I don't have a problem with that. Not in a world where greatness seems to ride dark-shadowed shotgun alongside grimness. That may give the story gravitas, but it doesn't give it delight.

5. ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD is proof of something I've long believed: Stars aren't interesting; fallen stars are. As are people on their periphery. The struggle is baked in; the three-act structure practically builds itself. To wit, to borrow an example from Rick and Cliff's time: I wouldn't much be interested in a biography of Paul Newman and Robert Redford, because they have a flat arc once they became stars, because they became stars. But I'd be utterly absorbed by a biography of, say, George Peppard or James Stacy, both of who have incredibly interesting true stories threaded into their downfalls from short-lived stardom. Stars play interesting people, but that doesn't make THEM interesting people. People who have to struggle to overcome themselves to keep one nostril afloat? Their stories are the ones I want. And I love that Quentin Tarantino knows this, and agrees.

6. ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD also passes my personal two-part test for a great novel:

a) Is it insanely quotable? Is it all you can do to keep from copying-and-pasting whole passages and sharing them with the world?

b) Would you love the story if it were twice as long? Would you be happily immersed in the world it inhabits for as long as your imagination — and the that of the creator — could possibly take it?

For me, the answer to both questions is "yes." And for those reasons above all, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD is a great novel in my eyes.
Profile Image for Traci Thomas.
544 reviews9,857 followers
July 2, 2021
This is basically a lot of backstory for the characters in the movie of OUATIH. I liked it mostly. Very readable. Not sure it stands on its own with the movie. Got bored at some of the deep dives into Hollywood references. Not sure I got the overall point of the book but enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Ayz.
101 reviews14 followers
May 6, 2023
this book might lack a smidge in narrative propulsion, but it’s all about the dialogue and the characters. when people speak, it’s as musical and pleasing to the ear as ever when it comes to tarantino.

the scenes with little trudy and rick are especially excellent and charming. not to mention all the great old hollywood stories and what if’s that tarantino presents here.

really enjoyed this one.
Profile Image for Andrew.
369 reviews2 followers
June 30, 2021
Found this to be absolutely delightful. The Aldo Ray chapter! The Cliff Booth back story! The alternate versions of and perspectives on events from the film! The deep dive into the careers of journeyman filmmakers and '70s television! I probably won't revisit this as much as I have the film itself, but I will revisit this for sure. God, what a fucking gift.
Profile Image for Chris.
Author 35 books11.3k followers
September 15, 2021
Loved the movie. . .and loved the novel. Lots of moments from the movie in Quentin Tarantino's novel, but lots of new material. And the ending? As much of a surprise in the novel as the movie -- and different! I listened to thee audiobook and savored every syllable of Jennifer Jason Leigh's magnificent narration.
Profile Image for Ali Book World.
319 reviews174 followers
August 28, 2021
در هالیوودِ قرن بیستم، ریک بازیگر معروف و محبوبی‌ست. کِلیف هم همراه و همینطور بدلکار اوست. به مرور زمان و با بالا رفتن سن ریک، محبوبیتش هم آرام آرام کم میشه تا اینکه روزی یک نفر با توجه به این موضوع پیشنهاد کار در سینمای ایتالیا رو به ریک میده و...

اینکه کارگردانی یک فیلم قشنگ و با موضوعی متفاوت رو به همراه بازیگرهای سرشناسی بسازه و چند سال بعد اولین رمان خودش رو بر اساس همون فیلم سینمایی ولی با جزئیات بیشتر بنویسه واقعاً کار خیلی مهمیه که آقای تارانتینو از پسش بر اومده. رمان "روزی روزگاری در هالیوود" برگرفته از فیلمی با همین نامه!... ممکنه خیلی‌ها این فیلم سینمایی رو دیده باشند و البته نظرات در مورد فیلمش بسیار متفاوته. عده‌ای کاملاً دوستش داشتند اما بعضی‌ها هم نظرات منفی در موردش گفتند.

اما کتابش خیلی متفاوت تره. کلیت داستان و ماجراها و شخصیت‌ها همون کسانی هستند که توی فیلم هم بودند اما جزئیات خیلی بیشتره و یکسری اتفاقات و روند هایی در داستان دیده میشه که توی فیلم نبوده. ممکنه خیلی از کاستی هایی که توی فیلم بوده که باعث شده نظرات منفی در موردش دیده بشه، در کتاب با آوردن یک سری جزئیات بیشتر باعث شده که اون ضعف ها هم کمتر بشن و خواننده بتونه لذت بیشتری از خوندن کتاب ببره.

خب، فکر می‌کنم تونسته باشم تفاوت هایی که فیلم و کتاب دارند رو توضیح مختصری بدم. از شخصیت پردازی های کتاب خوشم اومد و واقعا میگم اگر فیلم رو هم ندیده باشید اینقدر این آقای کارگردان با کتابی که نوشته، فوق العاده قشنگ جمله بندی کرده و تا جایی که تونسته شخصیت‌ها رو کاملاً واضح به مخاطبش نشون داده که به اندازه کافی از داستانش لذت میبرید.

البته این نکته رو هم اضافه کنم که من وقتی کتاب رو خوندم برای بار دوم بعد از مدتها رفتم و فیلم رو دوباره دیدم. فیلم رو هم خیلی دوست داشتم اما حقیقتا کتاب جذاب تره... شخصیت "کلیف" خیلی خیلی خوبه!!! کاراکتر مورد علاقه‌ام تو فیلم و کتاب بود. (بازیگرش هم جناب برد پیت بزرگ هستند)

اگر بخوام در مورد ژانر کتاب باهاتون صحبت کنم میشه گفت یک‌جورایی "کلاسیکِ مدرن" محسوب میشه و همینطور با توجه به داستان روانشناسی‌ای که داره طنز خیلی قشنگی هم توش گنجونده شده که خیلی جاها باعث خنده‌تون میشه.

در کل که کتاب خوبی بود، از خوندنش لذت بردم و پیشنهاد میکنم اگر فیلمش رو دیدید و دوست داشتید حتماً کتابش رو هم بخونید چون جزئیات خیلی بیشتری داره. حتی اگر هم فیلم رو دوست نداشتید به نظرم میتونید یک فرصت دیگه بهش بدید و با خوندن کتابش قول‌ میدم تا حد خیلی زیادی اون حسی که باعث شد از فیلم لذت نبرید، جبران بشه!

در مورد ترجمه هم میگم که واقعاً ترجمه‌ی خوبی بود و بسیار روون نوشته شده. مترجم اون حس و حال طنزی که نویسنده به کار برده رو به خوبی به ما منتقل میکنه. همین دیگه! اگر قصد دارید بخونید، امیدوارم که ازش لذت ببرید.
Profile Image for Elena Petrache.
466 reviews32 followers
October 30, 2022
3,5 stelute :)

Cartea urmareste linia filmului, insa avem ocazia sa cunoastem mult mai bine personajele principale - mi-a placut destul de mult :).

"[...]Pana atunci nu realizase ca unii regizori fac filme cu aceeasi forta ca marii scriitori. Nu toti regizorii. Nu majoritatea. Nici unul dintre regizorii cu care lucrase ea, in afara de sotul ei. Dar erau cativa."

"[...]Deci Roman manipulase sase sute de oameni, care in curand aveau sa devina milioane de oameni din toata lumea, ca sa faca ceva ce n-ar fi facut niciodata daca s-ar fi gandit. Dar nu se gandeau. Roman gandea in locul lor."
Profile Image for Kerri.
980 reviews351 followers
January 16, 2023

I delayed watching the movie version of this for over a year I think, because I just couldn't bring myself to sit through Tarantino's creatively violent take on what happened to the people he is using as characters here. In particular, I did not want to watch Sharon Tate slaughtered in a cinematic way. I wasn't morally appalled by the film, I just didn't want to see it that much. If I had read articles about it at the time though, I would have found it was not historically accurate- and it is one of the few films that didn't irritate me when it veered so wildly from what actually happened. I don't know if this sounds cruel or not, but it was oddly cathartic to watch the Manson followers be obliterated in such over the top ways.

The novel deals with the climax of the film rather early on, in a sentence or two. Initially this surprised me, but I appreciated it. The novel is a different experience, even a different story in a way, with a different ending that I loved, possibly more than the films one. It felt much more worthwhile than I had expected, so much more than a rehash of the movie.

It's a funny novel (humour funny, not odd funny), with a lot of opinions about films and actors - I ended up making a list of some of Cliff's recommendations.

The only small downside - I found Margaret Qualley's character even more annoying in the book than I did in the film, an impressive feat! At least it did clarify that it was the character I dislike, not the actress.
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Overall though, a good read, especially if you enjoyed the film. 🎬
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Barry.
362 reviews58 followers
August 5, 2021
I had so been looking forward to reading this book and it was an IMMENSE disappointment. Given that I am not a masochist, I did not finish the book but rather, struggled through as much of it as I could stand.

Each of the chapters that I read was quite long, thousands of pages it seemed. One entire chapter consisted of a conversation between a reasonably washed-up actor and an agent who felt that he could save the guy's career. It was, perhaps, the most boring dialogue that I have ever read - and from Quentin Tarantino, no less. Another chapter consisted entirely of the musings of the washed-up actor about movies that he had seen in his life and his reaction to them. That was the most painful chapter that I read.

I cannot recommend this book to anyone, even those that I hate (well, maybe one or two of them but they are not on Goodreads).

Over and Out
Profile Image for Volodymyr.
6 reviews21 followers
August 8, 2022
Це ж Квентін, бляха, Тарантіно. Яка ще оцінка тут могла бути?🤠
Profile Image for Jon Zelazny.
Author 8 books34 followers
May 23, 2022
I love QT, and OUATI HOLLYWOOD was my favorite film of 2019, but this is not a novel, or even a novelization, it's an assemblage of supplemental written material undoubtedly developed over a period of some years before QT actually made the movie.

Some chapters read like early-draft screenwriting, some like prose backstory for the eventual cast, and some could be QT walking around spitballing ideas into a tape recorder. All of which are admirable techniques a master storyteller might use to develop an original work, but having your staff then cobble all these loose bits into a paperback and selling it as a "novel" is disingenuous.

Every scene or idea he eventually used in the movie is palpably, embarrassingly worse here. Nor will this book "enhance your experience of the movie," any more than six hours of re-cut Beatles footage enhanced LET IT BE, or that visit to the French rubber plantation enhanced APOCALYPSE NOW.
Profile Image for Holger Haase.
Author 6 books10 followers
July 14, 2021
I am genuinely mystified at the amount of praise this book is getting. I found the novel practically unreadable. For starters I am totally allergic to fiction written in the present tense but even apart from that it comes across as total fan wankery. Then again no wonder given it was written by Tarantino's biggest fan. Hell, he even featured references to himself as a young boy in it!

Don't even know where to start so just a few small pointers why I reacted so strongly about this one. I certainly wasn't "nodding in the affirmative" (one of Tarantino's many awkward expressions in the book) when I was reading this

The book forsakes plot nearly entirely and just feels like listening in to some geeky bores ramble on and on and on and on about their favourite movies. It's bad enough when this is about real movies but gets worse when we read (but obviously can't see) references to fictitious films. And worst of all, Tarantino, self nominated movie geek Numero Uno, often gets his facts wrong about the real stuff: The "info" about the German Karl May movies e.g. has glaring errors starting from apparently having been filmed in the 1950s when they didn't get made until a decade later.

Every character regardless defines themselves by their love of movies and apparently Cliff even goes as far as having a Top 5 list of favourite Kurosawa films. Defining characters by their interests is always a very lazy way of characterisation but en masse such as here it is total ineptitude. (If he ever gets around to writing a Western novel as threatened I have no doubt it will mainly be an endless list of favourite Lily Langtry songs.)

So he drops the film's raison d'être and (in)famous climax by making this just a tiny reference point very early on in the novel. This of course means that all the scenes with the Manson Family lose any of their meaning but hey, I am willing to forgive that if he had replaced the ending with something new and worthwhile. Instead the final pages are - no spoiler warning as there is nothing of interest to spoil - an endless reading of lines between Rick and the Girl???? Seriously??!!!??? That's it?????

Events in the future (1970s) are told in the conditional or past tense; events in the present (1969) in present tense; events in the past in past tense so with both past and future in the past tense, it's a stylistic nightmare together with the awkward present tense narration.

"If New York is the city that never sleeps, Los Angeles in the middle of the night and early wee hours of the morning turns back into the desert it was before it got paved over with concrete." Sorry, but this kind of stuff hurts both my eyes and ears when I read it aloud and every page if not every paragraph is choke full of dreadful narration.

I could go on endlessly (as Tarantino does) but I've had it with this book. Given that Tarantino is known for films with snappy and succinct dialogue, I am utterly stunned how clumsy this is written in every aspect.
Profile Image for George K..
2,367 reviews292 followers
November 21, 2021
Βαθμολογία: 9/10

Ο Κουέντιν Ταραντίνο είναι αν όχι ο αγαπημένος μου σκηνοθέτης, τότε σίγουρα ένας από τους πέντε πιο αγαπημένους. Έχω δει όλες του τις ταινίες, πολλές από αυτές τρεις και τέσσερις φορές, με την ίδια απόλαυση. Άλλες είναι φοβερές, άλλες λιγότερο φοβερές, προσωπικά όμως τις γουστάρω όλες, για διαφορετικούς λόγους την καθεμία. Τώρα, την τελευταία του ταινία με τον τίτλο "Κάποτε στο Χόλιγουντ" την είδα στον κινηματογράφο με το που βγήκε στην Ελλάδα τον Αύγουστο του 2019 και άλλη μια πέρυσι, ενώ ίσως την ξαναδώ του χρόνου. Είναι από τις αγαπημένες μου, γιατί έχει όλα αυτά τα καλούδια που θέλω από μια ταινία, ενώ φυσικά και μόνο ότι έχει να κάνει με τον κόσμο του Χόλιγουντ της δεκαετίας του '60 είναι ένα συν από μένα.

Το πρώτο αυτό μυθιστόρημα του Ταραντίνο (ελπίζω να υπάρξουν πολλά άλλα!), λειτουργεί σαν συμπλήρωμα της ταινίας, και είναι πραγματικά γαμάτο! Ακολουθεί τη γενική πλοκή της ταινίας, αλλά κάποιες χαρακτηριστικές σκηνές είναι αλλαγμένες σε μεγάλο βαθμό, ενώ και το απίστευτο τέλος της ταινίας εδώ απλώς αναφέρεται επιγραμματικά κάπου στις αρχές της ιστορίας! Ο Ταραντίνο είχε σκοπό να μας παρουσιάσει με λίγο περισσότερο βάθος τους βασικούς χαρακτήρες (π.χ. μαθαίνουμε κάποια παραπάνω πραγματάκια για τον απίθανο χαρακτήρα του Κλιφ Μπουθ), αλλά και να βγάλει από μέσα του όλα αυτά που τον εξιτάρουν σε σχέση με το Χόλιγουντ, τις ταινίες και τις σειρές, αλλά και τη μουσική της δεκαετίας του '60 (άντε, και λίγο από δεκαετία του '50).

Είναι εμφανές ότι οι γνώσεις του Ταραντίνο για ταινίες, τηλεοπτικές σειρές, ηθοποιούς, διάφορες ιστορίες και ανέκδοτα από τον μαγευτικό αλλά συνάμα σκληρό κόσμο του παλιού Χόλιγουντ, είναι απεριόριστες, και εδώ παρουσιάζει μερικές απ�� αυτές. Δεν ξέρω κατά πόσο το μπλα μπλα που υπάρχει εδώ κι εκεί στις ποπ αναφορές και τους διαλόγους θα ικανοποιήσει ή θα ιντριγκάρει όλους τους αναγνώστες, προσωπικά όμως με ξετρέλανε, γιατί εκτός των άλλων ο μπαγάσας με έβαλε στο τρυπάκι να ψάχνω για ηθοποιούς, ταινίες, σειρές, αλλά και τραγούδια. Και φυσικά με τις περιγραφές, τους διαλόγους και τις ποπ αναφορές κατάφερε να με ταξιδέψει πίσω στον χρόνο, σε μια εποχή που ίσως θα ήθελα να είχα ζήσει τα νιάτα μου (και ειδικά στις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες), και να με κάνει να νοσταλγήσω για μέρη και γεγονότα που βέβαια δεν έζησα.

Προτείνω να δείτε την ταινία πρώτα, και αν σας αρέσει, τότε προχωρήστε και στο βιβλίο, αλλά αφήστε να περάσει λίγος καιρός στο μεταξύ. Όσον αφορά την ελληνική έκδοση, είναι πάρα πολύ ωραία και προσεγμένη, με γλαφυρή μετάφραση.
4,878 reviews54 followers
December 28, 2021
I found this book difficult to review, as I don't want to review Tarantino himself. To address the elephant in the room, QT isn't for everybody. I remember seeing people walk out of Pulp Fiction back in the day. I also think DiCaprio and Pitt are over-hyped, but I digress. As you can tell, I'm going the random thought, asides, and dream sequences route, here.

I wonder if Rick Dalton's name is some sort of homage to The Dalton Gang. One of the surviving brothers, after getting out of prison, became a Hollywood actor, starring as his own dead brother. Known liar Al Jennings parlayed a reputation as an outlaw into Hollywood fame and fortune. Real life outlaw Henry Starr, had a short, successful film career before the industry moved to Hollywood. He ended up getting shot while trying to hold up a store.

Is Booth somehow a homage to John Wilkes Booth?

Sharon Tate is much more present in the movie than in the book, while Charles Manson is more present in the book than in the movie. One of the things I liked about the movie, is that it gave some life to Tate, who is only remembered as a beautiful victim. The guy they cast as Manson didn't really look or sound like Manson to me. Manson always struck me as a scary Willie Nelson.

One time, I had a dream where Orson Welles went on a toot and made an 8 day western back in the 40's, and I helped rediscover it, only to find it was terrible.

One thing QT emphasizes, but we've all seemed to forget, is how filthy and unhygenic hippies actually were back then. They've had quite a cleaning up over the decades.

The music criticism is pretty good. A lot of great songs sort of fall through the cracks of oldies radio.

Cliff Booth really is a protagonist from a Fawcett Gold Medal novel.

The "controversy" over the Bruce Lee scene is overblown. Bruce Lee didn't lose anything. QT handled the twitter mob the way they should be handled. The Bruce Lee portrayed here seems like the guy who completely pranked Burt Ward during the Batman/Green Hornet team up.

I didn't think of it before, but both Bruce Lee and Charles Manson had cults of personality, and had to work to keep them. QT seems to have his own personality cult, so I'd imagine he knows how they work.

The story of how Rick Dalton was on "the list" of actors to get McQueen's part in The Great Escape captured my imagination. As Dalton goes through the list, and says when they get to the end, they'd make a new list, I created my own: Bob Conrad, Bob Culp, Bob Vaughn, and Burt Reynolds. Then they'd give the part to Nick Adams. Who is on your list?

I've often thought Howard Hawks should have made a Rio Bravo knock off with John Wayne and Bruce Lee. Instant classic.
Profile Image for Andrey.
93 reviews257 followers
July 9, 2021
it’s way funnier and better written than it has any right to be
Profile Image for Scott Rhee.
1,846 reviews69 followers
May 28, 2023
Quentin Tarantino wowed me with his book “Cinema Speculation”, a wonderful nonfiction book about the movies that made Tarantino the man and the director he is today. It was a gorgeous thought-provoking love-letter to cinema of a specific era, that era being the late-‘60s and early-‘70s.

I picked up his novelization of his film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, but I honestly didn’t think I was going to like it, for two main reasons: 1) I honestly believed that Tarantino’s brilliance in “Cinema Speculation” was a one-off, not necessarily because I didn’t think he could pull off another excellent book or that he couldn’t possibly be as talented of a novel-writer as he was a screenwriter or director, but simply because I thought that “Cinema Speculation” was so good that it would be hard for him to replicate it. (Never mind, of course, that “OUATIH” was published a year BEFORE “Cinema Speculation”, but whatever…) and 2) I had seen the movie “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and, while I enjoyed it (I’ll be honest: there hasn’t been a Tarantino movie I haven’t enjoyed), I felt that it was his most flawed film to date and I had problems with the ending, that being the “fairy tale” alternate reality ending in which the lovely Sharon Tate et al. at 10050 Cielo Drive, Los Angeles, CA were not brutally murdered by four brainwashed hippies under the insane orders of Charles Manson. Honestly, I shed a few tears at the end, knowing that Tarantino’s ending was bullshit but also knowing that I wish it had happened the way Tarantino envisioned it, which, I know, was most likely his point.

So, I read the novelization.

I need to say it: it’s excellent. Fucking brilliant. And it’s also not a novelization. It’s a novel, and a damn good one. It also has very little resemblance to the film. A few scenes from the film made it into the book, but there were a lot of scenes I don’t remember seeing. (I have a feeling some of these scenes show up on the DVD bonus features or in a “Director’s Cut” version that I have not seen yet.)

The book is so different from the film that they are almost two separate entities with only the barest of similarities. This is, in my opinion, a positive.

Tarantino has written a novel that tells a beautiful story about the death of Old Hollywood, the big-studio machine that essentially controlled and helped create the City of Angels. He tells it in the story of has-been actor Rick Dalton (played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film), stuck in the weird limbo period of the late-‘60s when big-studio Hollywood was transitioning to the New Wave of the ‘70s, in which a slew of independent and European filmmakers would reshape the market and the entire film industry in less than a decade.

There’s little to no room for old-school actors like Dalton, condemned to playing guest appearances as villains on TV westerns and cop shows. His alcoholism doesn’t help. Thankfully, he has Cliff Booth, his former stunt man/current driver/best friend (played by Brad Pitt in the film). Cliff is a good guy, if one can forgive his past transgressions, which include murdering several people including his wife and getting away with it.

Both men represent a dying breed, struggling to hold on to the only world they know and pushing back against all the crazy changes they see in the world around them, changes that they secretly know that they need to embrace in order to keep going in Tinsel Town.

I’m not sure why Tarantino chose to downplay the violence and the emphasis on the Manson Family in the novel, but it was, in the end, the right decision. This book is not about Charles Manson or the murder of Sharon Tate. It’s about Rick and Cliff.

I don’t care what the fuck Tarantino writes about in his next book, but I sure as fuck look forward to reading it.
Profile Image for Aleksandra Fatic.
210 reviews2 followers
June 25, 2022
Knjiga je mini enciklopedija popularnih filmova, pjesama, glumaca hipi doba Holivuda, ali mi nije ni primaći filmu, zapravo bih je prije okarakterisala kao priručnik filmu, bez kojeg bi mi bila njah, ali u kombinaciji sa njim je korektna 4⭐️!
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