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Jackie Brown (1997, Pam Grier, Robert Forster)

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Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is an air stewardess who supplements her income by smuggling for Ordell Robbie (Samuel L Jackson), but her career is stifled after being arrested in possession of cash and drugs. Ordell posts her bail, but Jackie hatches her own plot, asking him for $100,000 to stay silent while also promising the cops she will aid his conviction in return for freedom.

Persuading bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster) to join her, Jackie smuggles $50,000, winning the trust of the police. On a second run she switches bags with Ordell’s new assistant Melanie (Bridget Fonda), who is then killed by his ex-con former accomplice Louis (Robert De Niro). As she plans an escape, Jackie watches the bodycount rise…

The prospect of Tarantino casting a Blaxploitation Queen for a Leonard adaptation was too much for some excitable media outlets to comprehend, and the hype started early, putting extra pressure on one of cinema’s newest auteurs. Tarantino responded with his incomparable flair for gutsy, kinetic thrillers. He also indulged his habit for rehabilitating fallen stars, exhuming the careers of Grier and the Oscar-nominated Forster as he had with Travolta in Pulp Fiction.

‘She’s a desperate woman,’ said Grier of her character, ‘and desperate people do desperate things.’ Interpreting Jackie as the elder sister of her ’70s character Foxy Brown, Grier plays it note-perfect and remains aware that the heroine ‘doesn’t keep razor blades in her afro.’

By comparison, Fonda and De Niro have walk-on roles, but both manage a chemistry and dark humour redolent of Pulp Fiction and typical of the highly energized ensemble which is the director’s alchemy.

production details
USA | 154 minutes | 1997

Director and Writer: Quentin Tarantino from a story by Elmore Leonard

cast
Robert De Niro as Louis Gara
Michael Bowen as Mark Dargus
Quentin Tarantino as Answering Machine (voice) (uncredited)
Robert Forster as Max Cherry
Denise Crosby as Public Defender (uncredited)
Hattie Winston as Simone
Pam Grier as Jackie Brown
LisaGay Hamilton as Sheronda
Sid Haig as Judge
Samuel L. Jackson as Ordell Robbie
Bridget Fonda as Melanie Ralston
Michael Keaton as Ray Nicolette
Chris Tucker as Beaumont Livingston
Tom Lister Jr. as Winston
Aimee Graham as Amy – Billingsley Sales Girl
Ellis E. Williams as Cockatoo Bartender
Tangie Ambrose as Billingsley Sales Girl #2
T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh as Raynelle – Ordell’s Junkie Friend
Vanessia Valentino as Cabo Flight Attendant
Diana Uribe as Anita Lopez
Renee Kelly as Cocktail Waitress
Elizabeth McInerney as Bartender at Sam’s
Colleen Mayne as Girl at Security Gate
Laura Lovelace as Steakhouse Waitress
Christine Lydon as Tec-9 Sidney – Chicks Who Love Guns
Julia Ervin as Steyr AUG Cindy – Chicks Who Love Guns
Juliet Long as AK-47 Gloria – Chicks Who Love Guns
Michelle Berube as Baretta 12S Brittany – Chicks Who Love Guns
Gillian White as Mossberg 500 Tammy Jo – Chicks Who Love Guns
Candice Briese as The Deputy
Gary Mann as The Deputy
Jeffrey Deedrick as The Sheriff
Roy Nesvold as The Sheriff
Herbert Hans Wilmsen as The Sheriff
Mary Ann Schmidt as Flight Attendant (uncredited)
Glendon Rich as Restaurant Regular (uncredited)

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