If you’re like me (And who isn’t?) you really liked the phrase “a pair of pliers and a blowtorch” in Pulp Fiction. It isn’t that I’m into torture; it is just that it’s a great phrase, “I’m gonna call up couple hard pipe hitting niggers to go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch.” This video is queued to the exact right place so go ahead and click play; I’ll rejoin you in about 15 seconds.
After Reservoir Dogs was all the rage, many people pointed out that Quentin Tarantino had lifted many ideas from other films. I suppose that he thought he was creating an homage to his predecessors, and I’m inclined to agree. But it is still a little bothersome when the things you most like in his movies are all lifted verbatim from others.
And that brings us back to, “A pair of pliers and a blowtorch.” About a year after seeing Pulp Fiction, I was watching TV late one night and Charley Varrick came on. It is about a bank robbery that goes wrong for unusual reasons and the consequences. And it stars Walter Matthau in an unusual kind of star role. Two-thirds into the film, we get this scene (which is also queued so I’ll meet you back here in 15 seconds after you click play):
That’s John Vernon delivering the line, “You know what kind of people they are. They’re gonna strip you naked and go to work on you with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch.” Truthfully, I don’t know if the line is original to this movie; it may have been a common turn of phrase. The one thing I do know is that Tarantino got it from this film. Just watch the film; it is his kind of movie.
If you haven’t see Charley Varrick, I recommend it. It is very good. And it is on this page, because the entire film is included in that clip. You’re welcome! (It took me a long time to find the scene; I thought it was right at the end.)
Update (4 February 2013 10:50 pm)
YouTube is really getting to suck because of copyright issues. Both of the videos originally embedded were removed from YouTube. It took me about a half hour to find new videos and get the starting times right. What a pain!