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Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood (Blu-ray) (2019)

Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood (Blu-ray) (2019)

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Released 11-Dec-2019

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy / Drama Featurette-Quinton Tarantino’s Love Letter to Hollywood (5:00)
Featurette-Bob Richardson - For the Love of Film (4:34)
Featurette-Shop Talk - The Cars of 1969 (5:58)
Featurette-Restoring Hollywood – The Production Design (9:18)
Featurette-The Fashion of 1969 (6:37)
Deleted Scenes-and additional Scenes x 7 (25:01)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2019
Running Time 161:29
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Quentin Tarantino

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio
Brad Pitt
Margot Robbie
Margaret Qualley
Emile Hirsch
Mike Moh
Timothy Olyphant
Rafal Zawierucha
Al Pacino
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes, constantly
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     In the 1950s Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) was the star of the black and white TV western Bounty Law while forming a close friendship with his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). But now, in 1969, the roles have dried up and Rick is reduced to playing the guest star heavy in TV shows such as The FBI. He feels that his career is very much on the slide but still lives in a luxury house in the Hollywood Hills next door to hot shot director Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha) and his actress wife Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). Cliff, in contrast, lives in a caravan behind a drive-in and is reduced to being Rick’s driver, gofer and odd-job man. Over a couple of days in February 1969 Rick, struggling with too much alcohol and disguised in a droopy Zapata moustache and long hair, gets the part of the heavy in the TV pilot of Lancer, starring the up and coming James Stacey (Timothy Olyphant), Sharon goes to the movies to watch herself in a Dean Martin spy spoof and Cliff gives hitchhiker Pussycat (Margaret Qualley) a ride to the Spahn Movie Ranch, now occupied by the hippies of the Manson clan.

     Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood then fast forwards six months to August 1969. Organised by agent Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino), Rick and Cliff have been in Italy making spaghetti westerns. Rick has acquired an Italian actress wife and spent most of the money he earned so on their return to Hollywood Rick has decided to let Cliff go so they decide on one last boozy night out. Roman Polanski is in Europe so a very pregnant Sharon and her friends including Jay Sebring (Emile Hirsch) have a night out before returning to her house. Three of the Manson clan are in the Hollywood Hills bent upon murder but the evening does not turn out how anyone, or history for that matter, intends or expects.

     Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood, as the title suggests, is writer / director Quentin Tarantino’s sprawling and epic love letter to the Hollywood of the late 1960s, a time of big cars, big stars, indifferent fashion choices and flashy parties at the Playboy Mansion, a time of innocence before the music died. It is certainly a sprawling film, running over 160 minutes, replete with Hollywood insider references, music and movie people, subplots and four distinct story lines. The reconstruction of 1969 Hollywood is finely detailed and lovingly shot on film by cinematographer Robert Richardson who was nominated for an Oscar for this film (losing out to 1917); he was also nominated for the two previous Tarantino movies he filmed The Hateful Eight (2015) and Django Unchained (2012). Thus far Richardson has received ten Oscar nominations, winning three, for JFK (1991), The Aviator (2004) and Hugo (2011).

     Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood was nominated for ten Oscars, winning two, one a well-deserved Oscar for production design, the other one for Brad Pitt as best supporting actor. Pitt’s performance is indeed excellent as the unassuming stuntman / gofer and he is matched by Leonardo DiCaprio as the faded star; his scenes on the set of Lancer including a conversation with child actress Julia Butters and his tantrum in his trailer after fluffing his lines are DiCaprio at his very best. Both by DiCaprio and Pitt have starred for Tarantino previously (in Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds (2009) respectively) and in Tarantino’s usual way they are joined by some other Tarantino alumnae including Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern and Michael Madsen in bit parts (Tim Roth also gets a mention in the credits, which notes that his part was deleted).

     Tarantino’s films have always been known for their pop cult references and soundtracks. Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood is no different with an eclectic array of songs from, to give a tiny example, Simon & Garfunkel, Joe Cocker, Bob Segar, Aretha Franklin, Deep Purple, Neil Diamond, The Mamas and the Papas and The Rolling Stones plus themes from a variety of TV shows and films by Lalo Schifrin, Bernard Hermann and Elmer Bernstein; there is no original music in the score. Fleeting references to real people also abound, some identified by a brief caption such as Steve McQueen or Michelle Phillips, others not. Much of this borders on self-indulgent, of Tarantino’s ode to, and golden imagination of, a Hollywood, long gone, a Hollywood that probably never even existed except in his imagination.

     In places Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood is quite fragmented, the plotlines not really merging before disappearing. There have also been criticisms of Tarantino’s less than flattering depiction of Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) while, as in Inglorious Basterds, Tarantino does not let historical facts get in the way of telling his story. Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood is also, again not unexpectedly in a Tarantino film, very violent, justifying its MA rating. But a Tarantino film is never uninteresting and while Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are on the screen the film is never less than compelling.

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Transfer Quality


     Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood is presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood was shot mostly on 35mm film with some sections, such as the black and white Bounty Law, on 16 mm film. The reconstruction of 1969 Hollywood, the cars, the movie theatres and hoardings of Sunset Blvd, the decrepit Spahn Movie Ranch with derelict cars are all beautifully detailed, winning the Oscar for best production design. As well, shooting on film in the diffused light and glow of Hollywood (which attracted the film studios to the area all those years ago) results in strong detail and beautiful natural colours; even when the colours are bright, such as Margot Robbie’s vibrant yellow pants suit (a fashion statement of the 1960s), they look natural. Close-ups are strong, blacks and shadow detail excellent, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent. Marks and artefacts are absent.

     English and English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available plus French, Dutch and Arabic subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio choices are English and French DTS HD-MA 5.1 and English and French Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1.

     This is an audio track that is dominated by the pop songs, TV and movie themes and radio hosts which constantly blare from car radios, record players, TV sets or the audio generally, filling every speaker. However, dialogue and voices in the TV shows and the movies on screen are always clear, sometimes dialogue comes from the rears, car engines roar and wheels drive across gravel. In the quieter moments birds twitter and insects buzz in the LA summer. The impacts of heads smashing against walls, pictures or fixtures during the violence are loud, the flamethrower sound is deep and resonates. The subwoofer provided appropriate support to the engines, shots, music and flamethrower.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     Except for the Additional Scenes, the extras are short pieces featuring behind the scenes footage, film clips and comments from a range of people including, in various places, cast Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Luke Perry, Nicholas Hammond, Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, Timothy Olyphant, writer / director Quinton Tarantino, DP Robert Richardson, various producers, the guys who sourced all the 1969 vintage vehicles, the location manager, costume designer and production designer Barbara Ling. The featurettes are:

Quinton Tarantino’s Love Letter to Hollywood (5:00)

     How Tarantino recreated his memories of LA in the 1960’s and the movies he loved growing up.

Bob Richardson - For the Love of Film (4:34)

     Richardson as a cinematographer, shooting on 35 and 16 mm film rather than digital, getting some of the special crane shots.

Shop Talk - The Cars of 1969 (5:58)

     Sourcing and fixing up the vehicles relevant to the period of the film so that they did not look too shiny or pristine, and matching the cars in the film to the personality of the character.

Restoring Hollywood – The Production Design of Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood (9:18)

     Shows the attention to detail and authenticity taken in creating LA of 1969 including taking over and redressing blocks of Hollywood Blvd, making sure that the movie marques showed what was actual showing in the week Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is set, finding other locations including the back lot set for Bounty Law and the Spahn Ranch.

The Fashion of 1969 (6:37)

     How the costume design fitted the characters both in the film itself and in the TV programmes being shot.

Additional Scenes (25:01)

     Seven scenes; some new scenes are quite long, a couple are extended scenes including more of the Bounty Law episode with Michael Madsen. There is a play all option:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This Blu-ray is identical to the US Region All Blu-ray release of Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood except that release adds a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.


     Tarantino’s films are always clever in their references to popular culture and popular culture icons and music. Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood is no different. But, perhaps because it is about the movie industry, LA and the period of the 1960s that is so much a part of Tarantino’s own upbringing and imagination, at times Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood comes close to being self-indulgent. I enjoy most of Tarantino’s movies, and his quirks, but the uneven tone of this film and his re-imagination of real and well known events and people tends to distance one from what is occurring on the screen. However, the production design and look of the film is exceptional and with Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt on the screen the film always holds one’s interest.

     The video is excellent, the audio loud. The extras are rather lightweight but we get what is available elsewhere.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, July 13, 2020
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE