From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Like that Merchant-Ivory clap-trap. All those assholes make are unwatchable movies from unreadable books. They ain't plays, they ain't books, they certainly ain't movies, they're films. And do you know what films are? They're for people who don't like movies. "Mad Max", that's a movie. "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly", that's a movie. "Rio Bravo", that's a movie. "Rumble Fish", that's a fuckin' movie. And, "Coming Home in a Body Bag", that's a movie. It was the first movie with balls to win a lot of Oscars since the "The Deer Hunter"."--Clarence in True Romance
True Romance is an American motion picture released in 1993, directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino. It stars Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette in an ensemble cast; the film contains notable performances by some seasoned actors along with early appearances by later stars. It is billed as a "love story", albeit an unconventional one, as the plot revolves around drugs and violence. Clarence Worley (Slater) and Alabama (Arquette) attempt to start a new life for themselves using cocaine stolen from Alabama's former pimp and find themselves on the run from the Mafia, ending in a dramatic double-crossing when the police get involved.
True Romance was a breakthrough of sorts for Tarantino. It was his first screenplay, and he had hoped to direct the movie himself, but ended up selling the script: the money from the sale enabled Tarantino to direct Reservoir Dogs.
At a Detroit theater showing kung fu films, Alabama Whitman strikes up a conversation with Elvis Presley fanatic Clarence Worley. They later have sex at Clarence's apartment in downtown Detroit. Alabama tearfully confesses that she is a call girl hired by Clarence's boss as a birthday present but has fallen in love with Clarence. They marry.
An apparition of Elvis visits Clarence and convinces him to kill Alabama's pimp Drexl. Clarence goes to the brothel where Alabama worked, shoots and kills Drexl, and takes a bag he assumes contains Alabama's belongings. Back at the apartment, he and Alabama discover the bag contains a large amount of cocaine.
The couple visit Clarence's estranged father, Clifford, a former cop and now a security guard, for help. Clifford tells Clarence that the police assume Drexl's murder is a gang killing. After the couple leave for Los Angeles, Clifford is interrogated by Don Vincenzo Coccotti, consigliere to a mobster named "Blue Lou Boyle", who wants the drugs. Clifford, realizing he will die anyway, mockingly defies Coccotti. Infuriated, Coccotti shoots Clifford dead. A note on the refrigerator leads the mobsters to Clarence's L.A. address.
In L.A., Clarence and Alabama meet Clarence's friend Dick, an aspiring actor. Dick introduces Clarence to a friend of his, actor Elliot Blitzer, who reluctantly agrees to broker the sale of the drugs to film producer Lee Donowitz. While Clarence is out buying lunch, Coccotti's underboss, Virgil, finds Alabama in her motel room and beats her for information. She fights back and kills him with his shotgun.
Elliot is pulled over for speeding and arrested for drug possession. To stay out of jail, he agrees to record the drug deal between Clarence and Donowitz for the police. Coccotti's crew learn where the deal will take place from Dick's roommate Floyd. Clarence, Alabama, Dick, and Elliot go to Donowitz's suite at the Ambassador Hotel with the drugs. In the elevator, a suspicious Clarence threatens Elliot at gunpoint, but is persuaded by Elliott's pleading.
Clarence fabricates a story for Donowitz that the drugs were given to him by a corrupt cop, and Donowitz agrees to the sale. Clarence excuses himself to the bathroom, where a vision of Elvis reassures him that things are going well. Donowitz and his bodyguards are ambushed by the cops and mobsters and a shootout begins after Elliott accidentally reveals himself as an informant. Dick abandons the drugs and flees. Almost everyone is killed in the gun battle, and Clarence is wounded as he exits the bathroom. He and Alabama escape with Donowitz's money as more police arrive. They flee to Mexico where Alabama gives birth to a son, whom she names Elvis.
- Christian Slater as Clarence Worley
- Patricia Arquette as Alabama Whitman
- Michael Rapaport as Dick Ritchie
- Bronson Pinchot as Elliot Blitzer
- Saul Rubinek as Lee Donowitz
- Dennis Hopper as Clifford Worley
- James Gandolfini as Virgil
- Gary Oldman as Drexl Spivey
- Christopher Walken as Don Vincenzo Coccotti
- Chris Penn as Detective Nicky Dimes
- Tom Sizemore as Detective Cody Nicholson
- Michael Beach as Officer Wurlitzer
- Brad Pitt as Floyd
- Val Kilmer as "Mentor"
- Samuel L. Jackson as Big Don
- Conchata Ferrell as Mary Louise Ravencroft