Quentin Tarantino’s a talented guy, but he’d be nowhere if he wasn’t surrounded by so much talent–and in particular, the husband-wife pair of production designer David Wasco and set decorator Sandy Reynolds-Wasco. Together, the two of them have created some of the most stylish productions of the last fifteen years, including Michael Mann’s underrated visual feast, Collateral; both of Wes Andreson’s best movies, The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore; and Pulp Fiction. It’s hard to understate how pitch-perfect–and crucial–their work has been to every film. They teamed up again with Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds, and spoke to Flavorwire about how they pulled off the garish, period look of the film.
Tarantino is famous for being a walking dictionary of film violence; similarly, the Wascos are have an encyclopedic knowledge of film, architecture, and design:
The set for Jack Rabbit Slim’s, the nightclub in Pulp Fiction, has been noted in numerous articles about your work. What was the inspiration for the design and how difficult was it to make?
The inspiration for Jack Rabbit Slim’s nightclub came from a variety of things. QT had us view Elvis Presley’s Speedway, which is a film about race car drivers that hung out in a nightclub, dining in booths made out of cars cut in half. He also recommended Red Line 7000, a James Caan racing film with another club that had a slot car set-up as a centerpiece, something we incorporated into Jack Rabbit Slims.
QT suggested the vintage American International Pictures’ posters, which we blew-up oversized for the walls, and chose John Lautner’s Googie-style architecture as our model for the building’s design. Early in Lautner’s career he was building roadside attractions in LA, where the building itself became a billboard, an eye catcher. This style hadn’t been used in films before and led to a mini-craze for West Coast Pop-modernism, which is still vibrant today. The large floating, cantilevered valance, suspended over the tachometer dance floor was copied from Tiny Naylors, a demolished restaurant on Sunset Blvd.
How did you prep for Inglourious Basterds?
Preparations for Inglourious Basterds were much the same as Pulp Fiction: lots of film references. Much like Jack Rabbit Slim’s, the cinema in Inglourious Basterds was a centerpiece set with a mixed pedigree. QT mentioned LA’s New Beverly Cinema for the projection room and its Vista Theatre for the auditorium dimension and number of seats as models. He wanted the lobby to be exactly like the one in Action in Arabia (directed by Leonide Moguy in 1944 with George Sanders, specifically the two stairs, the ceiling fans, and the timing of Inglourious Basterds character Colonel Landa’s and Sanders’ Action in Arabia character’s descent on the stairs. Private Affairs of Bel Ami (directed by Albert Lewin in 1947, and also starring George Sanders) served as the inspiration for the big circle window in Shosanna’s living quarters, overlooking the cinema
Check out the rest of the interview at Flavorwire.