Quentin Tarantino cites 'The Big Valley' and 'Bonanza' as inspirations behind his latest film

The director's new western was inspired by classic television. We're rounded up five episodes that serve as great examples.

Quentin Tarantino is a lover of the past. Well, perhaps a better way of putting it is that he believes in keeping good things alive. 70 mm film and veteran character actors like Michael Parks and Tom Wopat are not things of the past, just underutilized in an industry build around shiny new toys. As the multiplexes fill with CGI superheroes, Taratino has gone and made a western… in good old Ultra Panavision… with Kurt Russell and Bruce Dern. It was no surprise when a story recently broke that the director doesn't believe in Netflix and still records off his television with VHS tapes.

Bonanza

  • 1/19 2:00PMThe Hopefuls
    "Whilst in Virginia City on ranch business, Adam meets up with Sam Board. As they are leaving town, they come across a wagon train and they both decide to help the settlers out. Adam finds himself finds himself falling for the daughter of the group's leader. However, when Board carries out a drastic plan of his own, Adam soon finds out that love doesn't overcome personal morals and beliefs."
  • 1/21 2:00PMDenver McKee
    "While celebrating the return of his daughter Connie, former lawman McKee is asked to assist in the capture of an outlaw gang. While Joe is courting Connie, no one realizes that McKee is involved with the outlaws."
  • 1/22 2:00PMDay of Reckoning
    "After being injured in a fight, Ben is nursed back to health by Matsou and his wife Hatoya. In return, Ben give the two Indians land to settle and farm. However Matsou's brother and a neighbor are set on making sure that Matsou and his wife don't succeed in their new life."
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Yesterday, The New York Times Style Magazine published an interview of Tarantino by author Bret Easton Ellis. The two talked about modern cinema and the influences behind The Hateful Eight, the latest Tarantino film due out this Christmas. This passage reveals that he found inspiration in classic television westerns.

The idea came to him from watching classic TV shows such as ‘‘The Virginian,’’ ‘‘Bonanza’’ and ‘‘The Big Valley,’’ in which, he says, ‘‘There was always, each season, at least one episode where bandits take over the Ponderosa or Shiloh Ranch, and they’d all be played by guest stars. It couldn’t help but lend itself to a situation like ‘Reservoir Dogs’: Trap them all in a room and let me get rid of all the hero characters so there’s no moral center.’’ Which is precisely what happens in ‘‘The Hateful Eight,’’ during a terrible blizzard.

In fact, there's such an example on MeTV this weekend, the Rawhide episode "House of the Hunter." In that homage to Agatha Christie, Clint Eastwood's Rowdy character is kidnapped and held in a closed room with strangers.

To further aide your — and Quentin's — research, we've rounded up a posse of Big Valley and Bonanza episodes that capture that same feeling of closed-room suspense. Keep your eyes peeled or set reminders for when they'll air on MeTV.

The Big Valley "Earthquake!" During an earthquake a mission church collapses into a forgotten mine that lies under it. Victoria is trapped there with a pregnant indian woman and a man with a grudge

The Big Valley "The Invaders" A gang of rawhiders injures Heath, and then takes him to the ranch looking for a reward for “saving” him from ambush. While there, they realize the rest of the men folk are away, leaving the ranch vulnerable to their thievery.

The Big Valley "Court Martial" Armed men occupy the Barkley house, bent on punishing Nick’s former general for the destruction of an innocent town during the war. Jarrod convinces them to let the general and Nick give their side of the story.

Bonanza "Five Candles" Ben and three others are trapped when the floor of the courthouse collapses—and one of the men may be a murderer.

Bonanza "Any Friend of Walter's" Attacked by outlaws, Hoss takes cover in a prospector's shack with the old prospector and Walter, the old man's surprisingly communicative dog.


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