Celebrate Quentin Tarantino’s 50th Birthday With 16 of His Favorite Films

Quentin Tarantino, America’s favorite over-caffeinated movie geek, turns the big 5-0 today — a bit of a shock, considering that he seems forever frozen as the animated, motor-mouthed kid we first met back in 1992, via his shockingly assured debut film Reservoir Dogs. Your film editor had the opportunity to spend a fair amount of time considering Mr. Tarantino’s influences and filmography while writing the forthcoming 20th anniversary volume Pulp Fiction: The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino’s Masterpiece (out October 15th — but already available for pre-order!). Part of the fun of trying to figure out what makes a movie encyclopedia like Tarantino tick — particularly one who wears his influences so proudly — is in diving into his favorite films and tracing the path his own work took from them. So if you’d care to celebrate QT’s 50 years by watching some of his most beloved pictures, join us after the jump for an adapted excerpt from the book, with a few recommendations from his favorite flicks.

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (Charles Barton, 1948)

QT QUOTE: “The Abbott and Costello stuff was funny, but when they were out of the room and monsters would come on, they’d kill people! When was the last time you saw anybody in a horror-comedy actually kill somebody? You didn’t see that. I took it in, seeing that movie.”

QT INFLUENCE: Tarantino’s deft use of comedy to undercut horrifying or dramatic events, and catch audiences off-guard, is a constant throughout his work. (Reservoir Dogs leaps to mind, particularly Mr. Blonde’s dialogue with the severed ear.)