In postwar America the cowboy was king. In fact before during and after the war the first settlers in what would become known as the United States came to represent in the minds of the American public everything that was good about their country, especially during a time when it was fighting a major war. The cowboy represented the American soldier which had been sent to Europe to fight in another war that many felt was not theirs to fight. Both big screen and in particular small screen heroes had their day in the sun as every major TV company in the United States was pouring it’s money into cowboy shows.
However, as the fifties faded and the sixties swung on the popularity of cowboy shows began to wain. Set during this decline in TV cowboy shows, when the spaghetti western was emerging and wasn’t yet a credible genre, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt is Quentin Tarintino’s latest offering.
In we see the decline in fortune of TV cowboy Rick Dalton, (played by Di Caprio) and his stuntman sidekick Cliff Booth. The two live almost side by side with Booth acting not only as Dalton’s stuntman but also his driver since the former was banned from driving. The representation of Dalton as a washed-up tv star is typically over the top in a way that Tarantino has explored before, the only difference being that in this case, the portrayal is a lot more understated than in Tarantino’s previous movies. This takes nothing away from the pastiche quality and entertainment value. There are a number of ‘cameo’s’ from stars such as Bruce Lee, which seem a bit strained and unnecessary, a needless way of making the timeline obvious, however, to balance this out there is a subtlety, (at least by the standards of Tarantino) when it comes to the Sharon Tate/Charles Manson incident which was anything but subtle in real life, is only ever hinted at, with a character referred to only as ‘Charlie’ not getting any major screen time.