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‘Why am I Mr Pink? Why can’t we pick our own colours? Mr Pink sounds like Mr P*ssy. How about if I’m Mr Purple? That sounds good to me. I’ll be Mr Purple.’
Sadly, Steve Buscemi’s character in Reservoir Dogs doesn’t get his own way, with Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) telling him ‘some guy at some other job is Mr Purple’ adding ‘Mr Pink should be thankful [he isn’t] Mr Yellow’.
Mr Pink then tries to trade with Harvey Keitel’s Mr White identity because it’s ‘a cool sounding name’. However, he gets shut down again which leads to him grumpily concluding: ‘I’m Mr Pink, let’s move on’.
Well, at least you aren’t Mr Brown, ‘that’s too close to Mr Sh*t’.
The iconic scene from the 1992’s Reservoir Dogs– which is Quentin Tarantino’s finest work – tells the audience all they need to know about Mr Pink.
We learn Buscemi’s anti-hero is cynical, awkward, and likes to contradict, but we soon discover he’s the smartest of them all. He’s the only one to survive – taking the diamonds and fleeing.
Mr Pink is also the most likeable and relatable of the criminals, despite being jittery, wired, and continually on edge. Buscemi’s character manages to keep his cool, while reminding the rest of the guys they should remain ‘professional’ during their chaotic events.
So, if you could be any character from the movie, why wouldn’t you pick the one with brains and wild energy, who ends up with the loot?
Considering Reservoir Dogs is quite violent – cue Stealers Wheel’s upbeat number Stuck In The Middle With You ironically playing in perfect juxtaposition as someone has their ear chopped off – and full of swearing, I definitely viewed it at too young an age for my mother’s liking (thanks Dad).
Not that I have any regrets about that, I seem to have turned out okay, but the movie is a masterpiece and helped introduce me to the wonderful world of Tarantino, as well as cinema.
It quickly became one of my favourite films of all-time and will always be as hey, it’s Reservoir Dogs.
You can watch the original trailer for the movie here:
There are many things about Reservoir Dogs which make it a triumph, including the snappy dialogue, intriguing nonlinear storytelling, fantastic use of music, and strong cast who breathed life into their quirky characters.
While Keitel, Tim Roth, Madsen and co. are all superb, the film belongs to the phenomenal Buscemi who, as Mr Pink, delivers his best performance.
Forget Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and Ghost World (oh and Randall in Monsters, Inc.), Buscemi is at his greatest as the volatile Mr Pink, a role he wasn’t originally intended to play.
Tarantino himself, according to Empire, was going to play Mr Pink, although he did make a point of allowing other actors to audition for the part.
When he came in to read for Reservoir Dogs, Buscemi initially auditioned for the part of Mr White but was offered the roles of Mr Orange and Nice Guy Eddie.
However, Tarantino told Buscemi if he gave a killer audition as Mr Pink he would reluctantly give him the role.
Buscemi delivered, hence why I’m writing this article now, with Tarantino going on to play the role of Mr Brown instead.
During the famous opening scene where the characters discuss the meaning of Madonna’s Like A Virgin, Buscemi’s Mr Pink grabs the attention of the audience instantly.
As Joe gets the cheque and tells everyone else to sort out the tip for the waitress, Mr Pink refuses to chip in saying ‘ah, ah, I don’t tip, I don’t believe in it, they’re just doing their job’.
So begins an animated rant in which the character explains why it’s wrong for society to expect people to tip waitresses even if their service skills aren’t exceptional, while in other minimum wage jobs this isn’t expected.
Mr Pink does eventually cough up a buck after Joe tells him to, but not before he has the audience intrigued with his way of thinking.
Marking himself as the ‘difficult one’ in the group from the outset, Mr Pink doesn’t like much – tipping, the name he’s been given, and unprofessionalism.
Now, unprofessionalism is a key one as ‘be professional’ becomes Mr Pink’s catchphrase. He repeatedly tells the other members of the criminal enterprise to remember ‘they’re at work’.
Joe, Eddie and Mr White point guns at each other – be professional. Mr White fights with Mr Pink also aiming guns each other – be professional. Everything kicks off at the abandoned funeral home as the police were waiting for them there – be professional.
Buscemi’s Mr Pink is beautifully ironic which is why the character is so fantastic.
Erratic, volatile and restless, Mr Pink is driven by a wild and unpredictable energy, meaning you never know what he’s going to say or do next.
And this is where the irony comes in – Buscemi’s Mr Pink really is the best crook out of the group and, to use his favourite word, the most professional.
He’s witty, smart, and rational. He knows they can’t take Mr Orange to the hospital, that the group shouldn’t stay at the funeral home, how the rat could be anyone, and that it’s ridiculous to spend time blowing each others’ brains out.
Mr Pink is also the only one sensible enough to hide during the final standoff, leaving Mr Orange and Mr White to be confronted by the police in, in true Tarantino style, a gloriously violent end.
Although we don’t know exactly what happens to Mr Pink after we see him run away from the scene, if you listen closely, you can hear a ruckus happening outside, before a police officer tells Mr White, ‘don’t do it, put the gun down’.
We don’t know whether Mr Pink was arrested, killed, or managed to escape, but I really do hope it was the latter since he is the most likeable of the crew.
Buscemi really took advantage of Tarantino’s knack for writing superb dialogue and creation of quirky characters, allowing himself to have some fun with Mr Pink, showcasing his comedic talent as well as his acting ability.
While Buscemi built on the success of his role in Reservoir Dogs with Fargo, Pulp Fiction and many other great films, Mr Pink will always be his best, most iconic, and most memorable performance.
Just remember, be professional!
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Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.