Is Tarantino’s ‘Hateful Eight’ Just a “Rebels” Episode Rip-Off?

Tarantino's Upcoming Western

In a recent Cowboys & Indians piece, Variety film critic Joe Leydon noted some striking similarities between Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming western The Hateful Eight and an episode from a vintage TV series “The Rebels” called ‘Fair Game’.

Please don’t misunderstand: We’re not accusing Quentin Tarantino of plagiarism,”

the article’s author wanted to make it very clear. And here’s the breakdown of “The Rebels” episode in question:

Nick Adams Western Scripted by Richard Newman, “Fair Game” — which premiered on March 27, 1960 — was one of 33 Rebel episodes directed by Irvin Kershner, who went on to direct such notable features as A Fine Madness, Loving, and a little sci-fi movie called The Empire Strikes Back. In this particular episode, Yuma winds up at the stagecoach station because of his horse’s untimely demise – the same reason why at least two characters in Tarantino’s script wind up at that story’s stagecoach station — and fortuitously is on hand when a stage arrives bearing a bounty hunter named Farnum (James Chandler) and his beautiful prisoner, accused murderer Cynthia Kenyon (Patricia Medina). Also on hand: Bert Pace (James Drury, later famous as TV’s The Virginian), a spiffily dressed stranger who says he’s on his way to Laredo, and an attendant (Michael Masters) who claims to be filling in for someone on sick leave.

The stage can’t leave until morning because “the country up ahead’s a mite rough,” and should be traversed only during daylight. (In Hateful Eight, the outbound journey is delayed by a blizzard.) So everyone will just have to wait until dawn. Provided they live that long.

And then somebody is poisoned.”

Well, I’d be interested in seeing this episode, and the similarities certainly seem similar. Check out the full The Hateful Eight synopsis below:

In THE HATEFUL EIGHT, set six or eight or twelve years after the Civil War, a stagecoach hurtles through the wintry Wyoming landscape. The passengers, bounty hunter John Ruth (Russell) and his fugitive Daisy Domergue (Leigh), race towards the town of Red Rock where Ruth, known in these parts as “The Hangman,” will bring Domergue to justice. Along the road, they encounter two strangers: Major Marquis Warren (Jackson), a black former union soldier turned infamous bounty hunter, and Chris Mannix (Goggins), a southern renegade who claims to be the town’s new Sheriff. Losing their lead on the blizzard, Ruth, Domergue, Warren and Mannix seek refuge at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a stagecoach stopover on a mountain pass. When they arrive at Minnie’s, they are greeted not by the proprietor but by four unfamiliar faces. Bob (Bichir), who’s taking care of Minnie’s while she’s visiting her mother, is holed up with Oswaldo Mobray (Roth), the hangman of Red Rock, cow-puncher Joe Gage (Madsen), and Confederate General Sanford Smithers (Dern). As the storm overtakes the mountainside stopover, our eight travelers come to learn they may not make it to Red Rock after all…”

Rip-Off Talks

That’s not a secret, Tarantino samples other movies. He’s taking plot points and costumes from other works and he’s making them work in a different context ( e.g. Reservoir Dogs was more or less an actual remake of Ringo Lam‘s great action film City on Fire).

At some point, you need to accept that he ripped off something to do his new flick. It is Tarantino, for God’s sake.