'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood', the book

I’ve just finished reading the “novelization” of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, written by Tarantino himself. I absolutely loved it. It expands on the film entertainingly without duplication. There are a variety of genres, including lots of fascinating detail on the film and TV industry of the 60s that is effectively non-fiction.

The book covers Cliff’s background in sections that swing between pulpy and realistic. There is much more detail on the lives of the Manson family, told in a fictionalised but unsensational way. We get the backstory to the scenes of the new TV western pilot Rick is filming, and we see him having a drink and gossip with the star of the show afterwards, with of course lots of interesting detail on the interior of the bar they go to.

The structure is fairly different, with a completely different endpoint to that of the film. The violence in the film isn’t repeated. There are lots of quotes I could make, but these should give a flavour:

“Both World War Two hero Neville Brand and classic World War Two dogface Lee Marvin were allowed to be drunk on set without the insurance company closing down the production.


In George C. Scott’s leading-man actor’s contract was a stipulation that three days of the production would be lost to the actor’s alcoholism."

Does the book even mention Bruce Lee or Cliff’s encounter with him? Tarantino did get some criticism for how he portrayed Lee in the film. Lee came across as a buffoon, clown and a phony, which I think was a little unfair…and I am not a Lee fan, though I respect the guy.

Once Upon A Time…in Hollywood is the best movie I have seen in last five years. I will check out the book.

Yes, none of the Bruce Lee stuff is dialled back. In the film it is clear that the Bruce Lee scene occurs in Cliff’s memory, so that it may not have really happened that way in fact, and I suppose that applies in the book as well.

Found and purchased on the kindle store for $9.99.

Thanks for the heads up OP!

Supposedly the book (as well as things Tarantino has said in interviews) makes it clear that the fight actually was supposed to have happened the way it did, and was not an “unreliable narrator” situation:

I wouldn’t say that is clear in the book, given some of the other stories it has about Cliff’s life, but it’s interesting Tarantino is giving us that explanation separately.

I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know for sure, just what I’ve read about the book, but yeah, QT is pretty defiant about it on the interview.

I do want to read the book-- sounds like it’s worth springing for the $9.99 on Kindle. Thanks for the tip, and Happy Anniversary, kayaker!

Here’s an article about the “5 wildest revelations” from the book in case anyone’s interested:

I’m very glad QT didn’t include any of Brandy the dog’s backstory in the movie.

Yes, that would be difficult to film ethically.

I dont think thats the way Lee comes off. Imo he comes off as overconfident and enjoying his stardom. Lee was a smallish man. No matter what martial art he knows he still is subject to the laws of physics and a bigger stronger man could indeed push him around.

I take it QT isn’t a Beatles fan. He describes “A Day in the Life” as having a “pretentious sound design.”

That’s a new one. I usually hear it described as “innovative” or “groundbreaking.”