How Tarantino found, then lost, The Mack

Monday, 3 August, 2009

Andrew Crook writes:

US film auteur Quentin Tarantino, in Australia to launch World War II epic Inglourious Basterds at the Melbourne International Film Festival, has a well-known penchant for producing soulful soundtracks, with Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown continuing to tear up undergraduate house parties years after their release.

But Crikey can reveal an unfortunate sequence of events that may go some way to explaining Tarantino’s red-carpet surliness at yesterday afternoon’s Basterds premier.

On Saturday, Tarantino thought he had hit paydirt when he uncovered a rare soundtrack to 1973 blaxploitation classic The Mack at Melbourne crate-digging haven Collector’s Corner. Numerous Mack references are included in Tarantino films with the Richard Pryor vehicle opening a Tarantino-curated film festival in 2007.

There are two Mack soundtracks — the Willie Hutch version and the much rarer original score composed by Eugene McDaniels and Alan Silvestri, featuring a young Pryor on the cover. After 30 minutes picking through the Collector’s Corner racks, a jubilant Tarantino approached the counter with the record in hand, telling staff he had been searching for the McDaniels/Silvestri version for “20 years”.

Alongside The Mack, Tarantino was toting a selection of other records, including the Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Juno and Sol Madrid soundtracks and a Smokey Robinson classic.

But the triumphant transaction soon went horribly wrong. In a balls-up recalling something out of Reservoir Dogs, a rival shopper, who had been making small talk with the US director, made off with Tarantino’s package, mistaking it for his own.

The legendary director left the shop, only to return minutes later, with a far less-salubrious collection of bargain-basement vinyl.

“These aren’t my records”, an unimpressed Tarantino grunted.

The horrified Collectors Corner staffer overseeing the sale, Charles Ayre, realised what had happened.

“Straight away I just knew Quentin had been the victim of the old Switcheroo”, Ayre told Crikey.

Yesterday, a sullen Tarantino, still smarting from the mix-up, evaded red carpet questions over the Chinese hacking controversy and the withdrawal of the Ken Loach film Looking For Eric. It was left to Inglourious Basterds stars, Diane Kruger and Christopher Waltz, to provide some pith for the assembled hacks.

Tarantino will travel to Sydney this week to screen his personal copy of 1987 Australian horror Dark Age, starring John Jarrett. But until The Mac is returned, his mood is expected to remain sour.