Quentin Tarantino didn’t go to film school. “I went to the movies instead,” he chuckles, and it shows. Mention even the most obscure film, and QT will wax lyrical about it. Each of his movies — from “Reservoir Dogs” to “Inglourious Basterds” — is a love letter to cinema, a pastiche of different genres. He touched on road movies with “Death Proof,” but what if he were to direct a motor-racing movie?
It comes as no surprise that he would ape the B-movie genre. “I’m a big fan of some of the racing movies that came out of American International Pictures in the ’60s. Like ‘The Young Racers’ — where this bad-ass driver takes bedding women as seriously as he does winning races. ... I would probably draw inspiration from ‘Red Line 7000,’ which was made in 1965 and starred James Caan. It actually plays like a really great Elvis Presley movie. I like the way that it has a community of characters staying in this Holiday Inn together and hanging out.
“For the soundtrack, I’d have hard-driving music with bongos and sitars, like in Richard Rush’s ‘Thunder Alley.’ I used part of that score in ‘Death Proof.’”
Race fans say the greatest movies are “Grand Prix” and “Le Mans,” but QT strongly disagrees.
“‘Grand Prix’ should be great, but it’s not,” he says. “-’Le Mans’ sounds like it should be fantastic, but to be honest I’m not sure I’ve ever managed to watch it through till the end without falling asleep. And Paul Newman’s ‘Winning’ is even worse. I’d rather saw my fingers off than sit through that again.
“To me, ‘Days of Thunder’ is the movie ‘Grand Prix’ and ‘Le Mans’ should have been. Sure, it had a big budget, big stars, and a big director in Tony Scott, but it had the fun of those early AIP movies. I just don’t think it works if you take the whole thing too seriously.”