Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: 42 Easter Eggs & References You Might Have Missed
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Once Upon A Time In Hollywood spoilers ahead!
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is currently in theaters, and it's a hit. While The Lion King topped it at the box office in its opening weekend, OUATIH still managed a very successful opening at the box office.
Mike Rougeau said in his review that the movie "is much more than a retelling of certain events--in fact, it fails spectacularly at being that. But it succeeds immensely at being a fairy tale--a recounting of a time and place, an attempt to capture the essence of Hollywood's golden age, one that came to an end in 1969--but, maybe for Tarantino, never really ended at all."
It is filmmaker Quentin Tarantino's ode to a very specific era in Tinseltown, one that came to an end--at least, it seems, in the director's mind--when Charles Manson directed members of his cult to murder Sharon Tate, her unborn child, and three of her friends in August, 1969.
Tarantino paid close attention to recreating this particular time and place, from the ads on the radio to the restaurants at which the characters eat. OUATIH is crammed full of fun references to the 1960s, Hollywood, pop culture, and even Tarantino's past work. We did our best to document as many as we could, but this is a film that will benefit from repeat viewings. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.
1. Wilhelm scream
During a scene from Rick Dalton's fictional show Bounty Law glimpsed early in the movie, we hear the famous Wilhelm scream, a stock sound effect used in countless movies and TV shows since the 1950s. The distinctive scream has been utilized so many times that it's become something of an inside joke for filmmakers, which is how Tarantino uses it here.
Above: The scene of the first Wilhelm scream, in the 1951 movie Distant Drums.
2. The NBC chimes
The three-note NBC chime we hear early in the film is still in use today. The sequence of sounds was originally seven notes long, but was pared down to the three we still hear on NBC today around 1929 or 1930.
3. Real movies and shows
Countless real movies and shows are mentioned during Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. We'll talk in-depth about a few notable ones, but there are too many to discuss individually, including Land of the Giants, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Batman, Lady in Cement, Lancer, Pendulum, C.C. and Company, FBI, Bonanza, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mannix, and many more.
Above: A still from Land of the Giants.
4. Fake movies and shows
However, not all of the programs and films mentioned in OUATIH are real. Most of the fake ones were made up to fill out Rick Dalton's filmography of TV shows and spaghetti westerns, including Bounty Law, Tanner, The 14 Fists of McClusky, Nebraska Jim, Kill Me Now Ringo, Said The Gringo, Red Blood, Red Skin, and Operazione Dy-No-Mite.
5. LAX tunnel
The rainbow-hued tile walls glimpsed throughout the movie's airport scenes are really there at Los Angeles International Airport near El Segundo, California. These mosaics were designed by interior designer and graphic artist Charles D. Kratka and installed in 1961, according to LAist. Travelers who arrive at LAX can still walk by them today.
Photo: LAX ii (A.Davey/Flickr)
6. The 14 Fists of McClusky
Like much of character Rick Dalton's filmography, The 14 Fists of McClusky isn't a real movie. But it does appear to be a tribute to one: Tarantino's 2009 film Inglourious Basterds, which ends with the firey assassination of Nazi leadership, including Hitler, by a ragtag squad of American soldiers. Tarantino recreating Tarantino in Tarantino? Meta.
7. Spaghetti westerns
Dalton's disdain for the "spaghetti western" genre is fairly ironic, considering that, by 1969, some of the best spaghetti westerns--and thus the best westerns period--had already been made: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). Dalton should really know better.
8. Antonio Margheriti
During the spaghetti westerns act of the movie, director Antonio Margheriti is mentioned. Margheriti is another Inglourious Basterds reference--Margheriti was a real director, but the name was also used as an alias by Eli Roth's character while posing as an Italian toward the end of the movie.
9. Always is Always Forever
This apparent nursery rhyme, chanted by the cultists seen early on in OUATIH, is a real song originally written by Charles Manson.
10. Real people cameos
OUATIH also features cameos from several real people being played by modern day actors, including Steve McQueen (Damian Lewis), Michelle Phillips, Bruce Lee (Mike Moh), and Jim Stacy (Timothy Olyphant).
11. Real Hollywood restaurants and locations
Hollywood is as much a character in this movie as Rick or Cliff, and many of the locations visited in the film are real historical restaurants and theaters, including Musso and Frank Grill, El Coyote, the Pacific Cinerama Dome, Pantages Theater, Supply Sergeant, Chili John's, the New Beverly theater (which Tarantino owns, and which used to be a porno theater, as it appears in the film), the Fox Westwood Theater, and of course the early Taco Bell and Wienerschnitzel restaurants. Most of these are still around today, as well.
12. Mrs. Robinson
The Simon & Garfunkel song Mrs. Robinson first debuted in the iconic 1967 film The Graduate, then later on Simon & Garfunkel's 1968 album Bookends. In 1969, it won a Grammy for record of the year. Its inclusion in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is fitting.
13. Cielo Dr.
When Cliff returns Rick to his home in the Hollywood hills, the camera lingers on the street sign. Cielo Dr. is the real street where Tate and Polanski lived.
14. Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man
"The Illustrated Man," mentioned in the film, was a 1969 adaptation of Ray Bradbury's 1951 collection of 18 sci-fi short stories.
15. Rosemary's Baby
Dalton is thrilled when Polanski and Tate move in nextdoor, because he's a fan of Polanski's classic 1968 film Rosemary's Baby.
17. Kid Colt, Outlaw
Kid Colt, Outlaw was a real series of western-themed comics that ran between 1948 and 1979, making it apparently the longest-running western comics series.
18. Mad Magazine
Jake Cahill--Rick Dalton's character in Bounty Law--was apparently a big enough deal to get his own Mad Magazine cover. Mad was founded in 1952, and this year, it effectively ceased publication.
19. The Playboy Mansion
The Playboy Mansion, where Tate and Polanski go to party with other real-life figures like Jay Sebring (also murdered along with Tate) and actor Steve McQueen, was an iconic party spot for A-listers in the 1960s. The mansion was sold for $100 million in 2016 to Daren Metropoulos, the co-owner of junk food giant Hostess.
21. George Putnam
At another point, news broadcaster George Putnam is mentioned. Putnam was a real reporter who also appeared in a handful of films throughout his life.
22. The Spirit of '67
As Sharon Tate rocks out to the Paul Revere & the Raiders record The Spirit of '67, she teases Jay Sebring about what The Doors frontman Jim Morrison would think. Sebring was Morrison's stylist.
23. Cassius Clay vs. Sonny Liston
During the flashback in which Cliff fights Bruce Lee, the latter brings up the rivalry between Cassius Clay--AKA Muhammad Ali--and Sonny Liston. The two fights between these titans of boxing, which took place in 1964 and 1965, are among the most iconic battles in sports history.
Cliff calls Bruce Lee "Kato," Lee's character from The Green Hornet, which aired between 1966 and 1967. The scene in OUATIH appears to take place on the show's set.
During the movie, Rick plays the "heavy" while shooting the pilot episode of the western show Lancer. Deadwood star Timothy Olyphant plays the series' lead actor, Jim Stacy, who mentions at one point that he's glad to have Dalton in their pilot. That doesn't quite match up, as this act of the film appears to be set around February 1969, and Lancer began airing in 1968.
26. Trudi Fraser
The young actor Dalton has a fateful encounter with on the set of Lancer, Trudy Fraser, is not a real historical figure. However, she was inspired by a character from Lancer, according to actor Julia Butters, who told Vanity Fair that Tarantino asked her to watch the show before filming Once Upon.
27. The Wrecking Crew
The Wrecking Crew is a real movie featuring Sharon Tate, and that is actually Tate, not Robbie, in the version we watch in OUATIH.
28. Valley of the Dolls
Tate was also in Valley of the Dolls, which she happily tells the employees during the movie theater scene.
29. The Great Escape
Digitally inserting Leonardo DiCaprio into the 1963 Steve McQueen classic The Great Escape is one of Tarantino's greatest cinematic achievements.
30. Tarantino's feet thing
Quentin Tarantino's well-documentedthing for feet makes itself evident throughout Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, from Margaret Qualley putting her dirty bare feet up in Cliff's car to Margot Robbie doing the same in the movie theater.
31. Lee's choreography
Bruce Lee designed the fight choreography on Tate's movie The Wrecking Crew, which is why we see Tate and Lee training together. Lee was credited on the film as "Karate Advisor."
32. Spahn Ranch
The Spahn movie ranch is a real location where members of the Manson family lived during this era. George Spahn, played in Once Upon by Bruce Dern, was the real owner as well. He let the "hippies" live there in exchange for their help with daily operations.
33. Manson family values
Several Manson cult members are accurately represented in the movie, including Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel; while other members, including Margaret Qualley's character Pussycat, are invented for the film (although Pussycat may be based on Kathryn "Kitty" Lutesinger). Some of the cult members are played by well-known actors, including Stranger Things 3's Maya Hawke (Uma Thurman's daughter) and Harley Quinn Smith (Kevin Smith's daughter).
34. FBI and Bonanza
When Cliff visits Spahn Ranch, Squeaky mentions watching the shows FBI and Bonanza Sunday nights with George Spahn. These shows were on different networks; Bonanza aired Saturdays on NBC before being moved to Sunday nights, while FBI aired Sundays on ABC.
Above: The ABC series FBI
35. John Wilkes Who?
This one is fairly obvious, but when Cliff visits George Spahn, George confuses him with a "John Wilkes who?" He's referring, of course, to John Wilkes Booth, the actor who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in 1865.
36. California Dreamin'
The version of the song California Dreamin' that plays during Once Upon a Time in Hollywood may not be familiar to all viewers. The song, originally by The Mamas & The Papas, was covered by Puerto Rican musician José Feliciano in 1968. The other track on the single was a cover of The Doors' Light My Fire.
37. There's a narrator?
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood sporadically uses a narrator to fill in gaps in the story, once or twice at the beginning, but more prominently after the six-month time jump in the movie's second half. Strangely, the narrator is Kurt Russell, who also played the stunt director on The Green Hornet during Cliff's flashback.
38. FBI on PCH
When Cliff and Rick watch the latter's episode of FBI, they remark that the car chase scene was shot on PCH. That would be Pacific Coast Highway, or California State Route 1, the road that runs the length of the US's west coast from south of Los Angeles to north of San Francisco.
39. Pan Am
Cliff and Rick fly Pan Am on their way home from Italy. Pan American World Airways (colloquially Pan Am) was a massive international airline that operated from 1927 to 1991, when it filed for bankruptcy.
40. The acid cigarette
During Once Upon, Cliff trips balls by smoking a cigarette that was allegedly dipped in acid. However, we can't figure out whether this was a real thing people actually did. If you know, drop us a line in the comments below.
41. Batphone Secret Number Contest
At the end of the movie, we hear a recording of KHJ Boss Radio's Batphone Secret Number Contest. This was a real contest from 1966 (a bit before the film's time, but it's still a fun reference).
42. Red Apple cigarettes
OUATIH's final scene is a Rick Dalton commercial for Red Apple cigarettes, a brand he apparently finds disgusting. Red Apples are a fictional cigarette brand that features heavily in Tarantino movies, including Pulp Fiction, From Dusk Til Dawn, Four Rooms, Kill Bill, and The Hateful Eight.
Above: Red Apple cigarettes in Kill Bill