That Once Upon A Time In... Hollywood Credits Scene, Explained
Fair warning: this is going to include spoilers for the end of Once Upon A Time In... Hollywood, which, if you've heard anything at all about the film, you'll know that's where things change gears quite markedly. The film doesn't open in the UK for another couple of weeks and you'll want to go into it as fresh as possible, so look away now.
Firstly, this isn't an explanation of the whole final act. Frankly, if need a play-by-play breakdown of what happens in the last half-hour of Once Upon A Time..., you may be beyond hope. It's fairly self-explanatory.
No, this is the mid-credits scene which comes after all that. In it, Leo DiCaprio's Rick Dalton appears in character as his Bounty Law character Jack Cahill to make the case for why Red Apple cigarettes are the finest, smoothest, least throat-burning unfiltered ciggies on this good Earth.
Now, if you're a Tarantino buff you've probably heard of Red Apple cigarettes before. They've turned up repeatedly in his films over the years, being huffed on by characters in Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill Vol. 1, Tarantino's section of the multi-director mash-up Four Rooms, Inglourious Basterds, The Hateful Eight and now Once Upon A Time In... Hollywood.
They've also turned up in Tarantino-adjacent projects like From Dusk Til Dawn, which was written by Tarantino, and Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, in which Tarantino's then-partner Mira Sorvino starred with Lisa Kudrow.
Shot to look like it's on square-shaped 16-millimeter TV stock just like the opening scenes introducing Rick and his best good buddy Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), the mid-credit scene might be a nod at the plummet his career has taken.
"Better drag, more flavor, less throat burn," Dalton nods, looking at his cig. But as soon as cut's called, his face darkens, he chucks his cigarette on the floor saying it "tastes like shit" and issues a bollocking to whoever's responsible for the cardboard cutout of himself that's stood next to him. He decks the cutout, furious that the picture chosen gives him a double chin, and likely furious that his job is now shilling cigarettes.
Whether Rick deserves to land where he does at the end of Once Upon A Time... is something you'll have to make your own mind up about, but there's a lot more to that mid-credits scene than just taking the edge off the bittersweet ending of the film proper.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.