MR. BROWN: Okay. Let me tell you what Like a Virgin's about. It's all about this cooz who's a regular f*** machine. I'm talking morning, day, night, afternoon—dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick.
MR. BLUE: How many dicks is that?
MR. WHITE: A lot.
MR. BROWN: Then one day she meets this John Holmes motherf***er, and it's like, whoa, baby. This cat is like Charles Bronson in the great escape. He's digging tunnels. She's getting this serious dick action and feeling something she ain't felt since forever—pain. Pain. It hurts. It hurts her. It shouldn't hurt her. Her pussy should be bubblegum by now, but when this cat f***s her, it hurts. It hurts just like it did the first time. You see, the pain is reminding a f*** machine what it was like to be a virgin. Hence: Like a Virgin.
Well, this is certainly one interpretation, and a kind of violent one at that. Brown takes a nice song about a down and out girl who meets a sensitive guy (or however Blonde puts it) and turns it into a song about pain. Tarantino took the role of Mr. Brown for himself; it's interesting that he's got some of the most violently misogynistic lines in the film. The diner scene shows how violent imagery and words are the common language of this criminal crowd.
MR. WHITE: You almost killed me! Asshole! If I'd known what kind of guy you were, I never would've agreed to work with you.
MR. BLONDE: Are you going to bark all day, little doggie, or are you going to bite?
MR. WHITE: What was that? I'm sorry. I didn't catch it. Would you repeat it?
MR. BLONDE: Are you going to bark all day, little doggie, or are you going to bite?
MR. PINK: Oh, Christ. Look, you two assholes, calm the f*** down. Hey, come on, back off! What, we in a playground here? Am I the only professional? F***ing guys are acting like a bunch of f***ing n*****s, man—you work with n*****s huh?—just like you two, always saying they're gonna kill each other.
White implies that Blonde is violent by nature and therefore can never be trusted. Pink, however, is a "professional." He can kill when the situation requires it, but he's in control... albeit disgustingly racist. White challenges us most, because we see him be compassionate and attentive to the dying Orange while killing cops and beating up on the helpless hostage. Pink and White seem to know the meaning of "gratuitous" violence. Tarantino got slammed for the use of racist language in this scene.
PINK: You kill anybody?
WHITE: A few cops.
PINK: No real people?
WHITE: Just cops.
Killing a cop will probably get you more prison time than killing an innocent bystander—it's considered a particularly heinous thing to do. However, these guys have some kind of twisted honor code that seems to make cops fair game if they're trying to bust you or kill you, while killing "real people" is something to avoid if possible. This is why they consider Blonde to be a real sicko; he doesn't make that distinction.
PINK: Man, could you believe Mr. Blonde?
WHITE: That was the most insane f***ing thing I have ever seen. Why the f*** would Joe hire a guy like that?
PINK: I don't wanna kill anybody. But if I gotta get out that door, and you're standing in my way, one way or another, you're getting out of my way.
WHITE: That's the way I look at it. The choice between doing ten years and taking out some stupid motherf***er ain't no choice at all. But I ain't no madman either.
Pink and White are really clear that sometimes you just have to kill somebody to avoid getting caught or going to prison. They think that's justified, unlike Blonde's "insane" shooting spree. That's some psychopathic thinking, but even they can see the difference between themselves and someone like Blonde. Notice that White calls a potential victim a "stupid motherf***er." That's one way to make it easier to kill someone—dehumanize them.
MR. BLONDE: Look, kid, I'm not going to bulls*** you, okay? I don't really give a good f*** what you know or don't know. But I'm going to torture you anyway... regardless. Not to get information. It's amusing to me to torture a cop. You can say anything you want 'cause I've heard it all before. All you can do is pray for a quick death... which... you ain't going to get.
When you think Reservoir Dogs and violence, you think about this torture scene. Tarantino said that a lot of people walked out of the theater at this point. Even some of the actors found it hard to watch, even though the camera pans away from the actual mutilation. As Tarantino (and many directors) know, what happens off-screen can be scarier than what happens on-screen. The scene suggests that Blonde's violence is inherent in his personality. It's too over-the-top to be seen purely as a result of a particular situation. If he wants to kill Marvin, he can just shoot him and be done with it, but he enjoys seeing him suffer and beg. Sick.
MR. BROWN: Jesus. I got blood everywhere - I'm f***ing blind.
MR. ORANGE: You're not blind, you just got blood in your eyes, all right?
MR. WHITE: Is he dead? Did he die or not? Let's go. [They quickly walk away. Mr. White stops a car] Hold it! Hold it! Right there! Get out of the f***ing car! [the woman in the car shoots Orange in the stomach. Orange shoots her back in the chest, presumably killing her.]
No one was supposed to get hurt; of course the whole job wasn't supposed to be a set-up either. The shock here is that the cop kills a woman just to keep up his cover. He's been drawn into the bloodbath; it's a situation-evoked violence. Despite all the shocking violent scenes, the sight of Orange bleeding, begging, and moaning throughout the film is as disturbing as anything else. Lots of people die in violent movies, but most of them die pretty quickly. This is as slow and realistically agonizing as it gets.
MR. PINK: I mean, everybody panics. Everybody. Things get tense. It's human nature, you panic. I don't care what your name is. You can't help it. F***, man, you panic on the inside, in your head, you know? You give yourself a couple of seconds. You get ahold of the situation. You deal with it. What you don't do is start shooting up the place and start killing people.
MR. WHITE: No. What you're supposed to do is act like a f***ing professional. A psychopath ain't a professional. Can't work with a psychopath. You don't know what those sick assholes are going to do next. I mean, Jesus Christ, how old do you think that black girl was, twenty? Maybe twenty-one?
Our first taste of Blonde's madness is this description. When he shows up later we start to wonder if White was really being fair with the whole psychopath thing…until, well, you know. Pink obviously has the stress-management routine down pat, so he can calmly decide who and when to shoot. White calls Blonde a psychopath, but what he really means is he's sadistic and out of control. Sadism is a whole new level of violence, because you enjoy it. The others only do it if it's absolutely necessary.
MR. PINK: I got the diamonds.
MR. WHITE: That's my boy. Where?
MR. PINK: I stashed 'em. Look, if you want to come with me, let's go get them right now, right this second man, 'cause I think staying here, man, we should have our f***ing heads examined.
If you think about it, returning to the meeting spot when the whole thing was obviously set up is pretty crazy. When the heist was originally planned, everything was controlled and well thought out. All the guys were cool about it, no problems, laughing and joking. Once things fell apart, everyone's true nature started to emerge. Notice that Pink is nervous about being caught, but not guilty about what he's done. Psychopaths usually get anxious only when cornered.
MR. WHITE: F*** you, maniac. It's your f***in' fault we're in this trouble!
MR. BLONDE: What's this guy's problem?
MR. WHITE: What's my problem? Yeah, I got a f***ing problem. I got a big f***ing
problem! A trigger-happy madman almost gets me shot!
MR. BLONDE: What the f*** are you talking about?
MR. WHITE: That f***ing shooting spree. In the store, remember?
MR. BLONDE: Ah, f*** 'em. They set off the alarm. They deserve what they got.
Mr. Blonde's psychopathy is on epic display here. But maybe more. He doesn't even seemed tuned in to the fact he did anything wrong and doesn't even know what Blonde's talking about.
[Mr. Blonde slashes Marvin's face, cuts off his ear, drenches him with gasoline, and almost sets him ablaze, all while doin' a jig to "Stuck in the Middle with You".]
This is the film's climax of crazy; Blonde has really gone off the deep end. The bouncy song in the background heightens the horror of the violence. Blonde has no problem rocking out to the music while torturing Marvin. What does it mean to be able to do both those things at once? He doesn't even seem all that angry, which makes him appear even more demented. Most people could understand (not condone) killing someone in a rage, but this is just different and sadistic.
COP 1: There goes our boy.
COP 2: I swear, the guy has to have rocks in his head the size of Gibraltar to work undercover.
COP 1: You want one of these?
COP 2: Yeah. Give me the bear claw.
It's easy to call the criminals crazy, but Orange might be the craziest of them all. The cops tailing Orange aren't marveling over his courage; they're berating him for being stupid or reckless enough to work undercover. It's dangerous work and they'd much rather be eating donuts. Do you question Orange's judgment in getting involved in this operation? He didn't seem to think it would be a suicide mission.
EDDIE: Have you lost your f***ing mind?
MR. WHITE: Joe, you're making a terrible mistake; I'm not gonna let you make it.
MR. PINK: Come on, guys. Nobody wants this. We're supposed to be f***ing professionals.
EDDIE: All right, look, it's been quite a long time, a lot of jobs. There's no need for this, man. Let's just put our guns down, and let's settle this with a f***ing conversation.
MR. WHITE: Joe, if you kill that man, you die next. I repeat: if you kill that man, you die next.
EDDIE: Larry, we have been friends, and you respect my dad and I respect you, but I will put f***ing bullets right through your heart. You put that f***ing gun down - now.
MR. WHITE: Goddamn you, Joe. Don't make me do this.
EDDIE: Larry, stop pointing that f***ing gun at my dad!
This discussion starts as the epitome of logic and reason. Eddie and Pink are looking at a crazy situation pretty rationally and trying desperately to rein everyone in. But there's that mask of sanity. When push comes to shove, these guys are messed up. They'll shoot a friend if the situation calls for it. This situation apparently calls for it. In one second, everyone's shot. It's a very disorienting experience for the viewer. We begin to question our own sanity. Did we just see what we thought we saw?
MR. BROWN: Like a Virgin's not about some sensitive girl who meets a nice fella. That's what True Blue's about. Granted, no argument about that.
MR. ORANGE: Which one's True Blue?
NICE GUY EDDIE: You ain't heard True Blue? It was a big ass hit for Madonna. I don't even follow that Tops of the Pops s***, and even I've heard of True Blue.
MR. ORANGE: Yeah, so, I ain't saying I ain't heard of it. You know; all I asked is how's it go. Excuse me for not being the world's biggest Madonna fan.
MR. BLONDE: Personally, I can do without her.
MR. BLUE: I used to like her early stuff, Borderline. When she got all into that Papa Don't Preach phase, I tuned out.
MR. BROWN: You guys are like making me lose my train of thought here. I was saying something. What was it?
The diner scene is a perfect example of the very natural dialogue the characters have. It's full of pop culture references and interruptions and tangents and all sorts of back and forth. It's not uber concise and witty, it's real talk.
MR. WHITE: Now we're in the warehouse. Who's a tough guy? Who's a tough guy? Come on. Who's a tough guy?
MR. ORANGE: I'm a tough guy, Larry!
MR. WHITE: You're a tough guy. You're a f***ing tough guy. OK. OK. We're in the warehouse. Look where we are. We did it. We made it. We f***ing made it. We have f***ing made it. We're in the warehouse. Look where we are. Look where we are. Hold on, buddy boy. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.
MR. ORANGE: S***!
MR. WHITE: Stop banging your head. You're going to bang a f***ing hole in the floor. You don't want to hurt the f***ing floor, do you? I can't do anything for you, but when Joe gets here, which should be any time now, he's going to help you out. He's going to take care of you. okay - we're just going to sit here and wait for Joe. Who are we waiting for?
White does a surprisingly good job for a hardened criminal of taking care of the badly wounded Orange. He tries his hardest to keep his spirits up, make jokes, and just always be talking to him. He's doing exactly what you're supposed to do for someone who's out of control and scared to death—orient them in time and place, so they can stay focused. This dialogue creates just about the only real emotional connection in the movie. It's painful to watch, because we know who Orange is.
MR. WHITE: Okay. Let's go through what happened.
MR. PINK: Okay.
MR. WHITE: We're in the place. Everything's going fine. Then the alarm gets tripped.
MR. PINK: Right.
MR. WHITE: I turn around and all these cops are outside. You're right, because bam! I blinked my eyes, and they're there. Everybody starts going apes***—
MR. PINK: That's not correct.
MR. WHITE: What's wrong with it?
MR. PINK: OK. The cops did not show up as the alarm went off. The cops didn't show up until after Mr. Blonde started shooting everybody.
MR. WHITE: As soon as I heard the alarm - I saw the cops.
MR. PINK: Nah, man I'm telling you it wasn't that soon, okay. They didn't let their presence be known until after Mr. Blonde became a madman. All right. I'm not saying they weren't there. I'm saying they were there, but they didn't make their move until after Mr. Blonde started shooting everybody. I mean, that's how I know we were set up. Come on, Mr. White, I mean you could see that, can't you?
Because most of the action of the movie has already happened, the big questions lie in the past. Communication is important in figuring out what exactly happened, and how, and why. Just like in Orange's commode story, the details matter.
MR. BLONDE: Hold still! Hold still, you f***! [slices Marvin's ear off]. That as good for you as it was for me? [talks into sliced-off ear] Hey, what's going on? You hear that? Don't go anywhere. I'll be right back.
What makes this scene so horrifying isn't the violence of it. We don't even get a true shot of the ear slicing (not that we wanted one). No, the worst part is the overly casual way Blonde talks to Marvin. He makes jokes, telling him not to move, talking into the ear and telling him not to go anywhere when he's tied down. It's the nonchalance more than the blood that creeps us out.
HOLDAWAY: Pretend you're Don Rickles or some-f***ing-body and tell the joke, all right. Now the things you gotta remember are the details. It's the details that sell your story. Now this particular story takes place in a mens' room. So you got to know all the details about the mens' room; you gotta know if they got paper towels or a blower to dry your hands with. You gotta know if the stalls ain't got no doors or not, man. You gotta know if they got liquid soap or that pink granulated powdered s*** they used to use in high school, remember? You gotta know if they got hot water or not, if it stinks. If some nasty, low-life, scum-ridden motherf***er, man, sprayed diarrhea all over one of the bowls. You got to know every detail there is to know about this commode. So what you've got to do is take all them details, man, and make them your own. While you're doing that, you gotta remember this story's about you and how you perceived the events that went down. The only way to do that, my brother-- keep saying it and saying it and saying it and saying it and saying it.
Again, it's all about the details, and method acting—convincing yourself that you're the guy in the story so you can be convincing to others. Orange learns the tricks of the storytelling trade and manages to get the job. We're not sure what it was about him that Joe later said he "wasn't 100%" about, but Orange was able to make an impression.
JOE: All right, ramblers, let's get ramblin'. Wait a minute. Who didn't throw in?
MR. ORANGE: Mr. Pink.
JOE: Mr. Pink? Why not?
MR. ORANGE: He don't tip.
JOE: He don't tip? What do you mean you don't tip?
MR. ORANGE: He don't believe in it.
JOE: Shut up.
Coincidence or foreshadowing? We're going with the latter. It's all too convenient that Orange is the first one to rat out the non-tipper.
MR. WHITE: I'm taking you back to the rendezvous. Joe's going to get you a doctor. The doctor's going to fix you up, and you're going to be okay. Now say it! You're going to be okay. Say it! You're going to be okay! Say the goddamn words. You're going to be okay!
MR. ORANGE: Oh, god!
MR. WHITE: Say the goddamn f***ing words! Say it!
MR. ORANGE: I'm okay, Larry
MR. WHITE: Correct! Correct.
MR. ORANGE: I'm okay.
This has to be the kindest lie there is. White just wants to help calm him down. He even holds his hand and starts singing the words, "you're gonna be okay". Such a nice guy, White… minus the whole armed robbery part.
MR. ORANGE: I was panicking for a minute back there, but I got my senses back now. Situation is I'm shot in the belly. Without medical attention, I'm going to die.
MR. WHITE: I can't take you to a hospital.
MR. ORANGE: F*** jail, man! You don't have to take me in. Just drive me up to the front. Just drop me on the sidewalk. I'll take care of myself. I won't tell them anything, man. I won't tell them anything. I swear to f***ing god, man! Just look in my eyes, Larry. Look in my eyes. I won't tell them anything. You'll be safe, man.
Even after all White has done for him, Orange still doesn't care that he's the very reason White's definitely not safe, hospital trip or no. He just wants to save his own life. Do you think less of him for this lie?
WHITE: For all I know you're the f***ing rat!
PINK: All right! Now you're using your f***ing head!
White's trying to rule out some of the gang as possible rats. However, Pink's smart enough to know that they're just a bunch of strangers who don't know a thing about each other. Their only connection is that Joe hired them. In those circumstances, you have no reason to trust that anyone wouldn't lie through their teeth to save themselves. Later, when everyone's at each other's throats, Pink says they need some "solidarity." He knows that will be hard to find with this crowd, who have quickly become blaming and suspicious. Turns out that the best strategy is to assume everyone could be lying and just look out or yourself. After all, Pink gets out alive.
MR. BLONDE: That burn a little bit?
COP: Stop! Please. Stop. Just stop. Stop... Just talk to me. Please, don't. Please, don't-- don't burn me, please! Ow... Aah! I'm begging you. I, I don't know anything about any of you f***ing guys! I'm not going to say anything. Don't! Please don't! Don't! Stop!
MR. BLONDE: You all through? You all through?
COP: Please, look, I got a little kid at home, now please!
MR. BLONDE: You all done?
Throughout the whole movie we're always wondering: Who's lying? Who's telling the truth? Marvin was the one guy we actually believed. We didn't even consider that he actually knew something until he said so. It makes you wonder, does he really have a little kid at home?
MR. ORANGE: German shepherd starts barking. He's barking at me. I mean, it's obvious. He's barking at me. Every nerve-ending, all my senses, blood in my veins, everything I have is screaming, "Take off, man! Just bail, just get the f*** out of there!" Panic hits me like a bucket of water. First there's the shock of it—bam!—right in the face. I'm standing there drenched in panic. All these sheriffs looking at me, and they know, man. They can smell it. Sure as that f***ing dog can, they can smell it on me.
The coolest part about this scene is that even we, the viewers, who very well know the whole thing is a lie, start to believe it. It's so vivid that we actually see it all happening just like Joe and Eddie and White are picturing it in their minds. It really is all about the details.
WHITE: That was the most insane f***ing thing I have ever seen. Why the f*** would Joe hire a guy like that?
We learn later why Joe would hire a guy like that. He's got to know that Blonde's a loose cannon, but he's extremely loyal to Joe. Eddie convinces Joe to hire Blonde for the diamond job because he's been "good luck" in the past. They trust Blonde so much that later, it's hard for them to believe that Blonde was the reason the heist was a disaster.
[Orange shoots and kills Blonde]
ORANGE: Listen Marvin, I'm a c—listen to me, Marvin Mash, I'm a cop.
Orange has to know that he could be in serious trouble for killing Blonde and will have to have to come up with a convincing story to explain why. However, his loyalty is to protect his fellow cop. We wonder what he would have done if other guys besides Blonde were still in the funeral home. Our guess? His loyalty to the operation (i.e., nailing Joe) would override his loyalty to Marvin. He's already been traumatized by seeing some fellow officers gunned down that day, but watching one being burned alive? (See: Orange You Glad You Aren't Mr. Orange)
EDDIE: The man you killed just got released from prison. He got caught at a company warehouse full of hot items. He could have f***ing walked. All he had to do was say my dad's name, but he didn't. He kept his f***ing mouth shut. And he did his f***ing time, and he did it like a man. He did four years for us. So, Mr. Orange, you're telling me this very good friend of mine, who did four years for my father, who in four years never made a deal, no matter what they dangled in front of him, you're telling me now that this man is free and we're making good on our commitment to him, he's just going to decide, out of the f***ing blue, to rip us off? Why don't you tell me what really happened?
Now we know why Joe hired a hothead like Blonde. Eddie believes that Blonde's loyalty was absolute. He didn't just talk the talk. As far as Eddie's concerned, that seals the deal that Orange is lying. Loyalty among criminals is most important when one of them gets caught. You've got to maintain silence and not give anyone up if you're caught, even to the point of taking the fall for someone else. If you do that, you'll be taken care of like Joe took care of Blonde in prison.
WHITE: Joe, trust me on this. You've made a mistake. He's a good kid. […] We're all real emotional. But you're barking up the wrong tree. I know this man. He wouldn't do that.
WHITE: [pulls a gun on Joe] Joe, if you kill that man, you die next. I repeat, if you kill that man, you die next.
White puts his life on the line for Orange, but his loyalty to Orange comes from a very different place than Eddie and Joe's loyalty to Blonde. It's coming from an emotional place; he has no reason to have faith in Orange based on Orange's behavior. This turns out to be a fatal flaw for White. Loyalty is in the act, not in the heart. Personal feelings or relationships have no place in this equation. See The Godfather, parts I, II, and III and every episode of The Sopranos. You have to kill your best friend if they cross you.
ORANGE: I'm a cop, Larry… I'm sorry. I'm so… so sorry. I'm a cop.
WHITE: [sobbing} Oh! Oh!
ORANGE: Sorry. I'm sorry. Sorry. Larry!
Why does Orange confess to Larry, knowing that it could get him killed? Tarantino has said that anyone who can't answer that question hasn't understood the film. We'll give you a minute. Okay. Orange tells White because it's the honorable thing to do to tell the truth to someone who's protected you, cradled you, killed friends for you, and risked his life for you. White refuses to leave Orange behind even though he could have taken the diamonds and left him there to die. White knows he's going to do some serious time when the cops get there. This guy deserved the truth, but he couldn't handle the truth. Why wait until now? Remember that Orange's first duty was to the police job—capturing Joe. Joe's dead, though, and the mission's over, so he won't be compromising anything by revealing his identity. Like White, Orange dies because of loyalty based on emotion.