Bobby Womack and One of the Greatest Opening Titles Sequences Ever … a Royale With Cheeseathon Post

By Niall McArdle

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Motown legend Bobby Womack died aged 70 the other day. The soul singer-songwriter, whose songs were made famous by The Rolling Stones (“It’s All Over Now”), Janis Joplin (“Trust Me”), and Wilson Pickett (“I’m a Midnight Mover”), had a huge hit with “Across 110th Street”. The song was on the soundtrack for the Harlem-set Blaxploitation classic of the same name, starring Anthony Quinn, Yaphet Kotto, Antonio Fargas and Burt Young.

Many years later, when Quentin Tarantino cast legendary Pam Grier in Jackie Brown, he famously used Womack`s song in the opening sequence.

At first glance this seems a very odd opening for a Tarantino film, having neither the step-printing of Reservoir Dogs or the bombast of Pulp Fiction. Not to mention that after the hyper-masculinity of his first two films, here Tarantino chose a strong female protagonist (The Bride is also a strong female protagonist, of course, but of a different type).

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Grier as flight attendant Jackie Brown is seen on a moving walkway against an ugly mosaic tile at the airport, her face expressionless. It`s a ripoff homage to the beginning of The Graduate. She breezes by airport security (something that will help her later in the film). Gradually, she begins to pick up the pace as she needs to speed up or she`ll miss her flight, her expression giving just the slightest hint of panic. And listen to the lyrics:

I knew there was a better way of life that I was just trying to find.
You don’t know what you’ll do until you’re put under pressure

The scene is a perfect summation of the movie: the calm exterior masking a desperate conniving, as Jackie Brown plays off the Feds against the arms dealer who she smuggles for, hoping that when the dust settles, she can just walk off with a cool million.

While filming, Tarantino and Grier decided to have a little fun:

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