Tarantino Borrows Antique Guitar For Filming Of The Hateful Eight . . . Then Kurt Russell Smashes Guitar

imagesQuentin Tarantino did not have to do much to get me into “The Hateful Eight.” I am a Cowboy movie addict and like the Tarantino films generally. However, I really appreciate movies that combine entertainment with real litigation to bring my world together. That function was performed brilliantly by Kurt Russell who, in a scene, destroys a guitar that he is playing in the movie. The guitar was borrowed by Tarantino from the Martin Guitar Museum in Pennsylvania and was viewed as a highly valuable 145–year-old period piece. It was supposed to be replaced by a prop instead to the horror of the museum, it was smashed beyond repair.


Martin has received insurance money for the purchase price of the instrument, but the company is royally ticked and said that it will no longer work with filmmakers after Tarantino.

Russell plays a bounty hunter right to bring a dangerous outlaw (Leigh) to her hanging. In the cabin, Leigh is playing an Australian folk ballad, “Jim Jones at Botany Bay.” Russell’s character at first seems entertained, then takes her guitar, growls “music time’s over” and smashes the guitar. Actress Jennifer Jason Leigh seems reportedly shocked in the scene and later said “We all thought Quentin was going to use a cheap prop but he used the real one.”

Ironically, the song is about a property crime (poaching) but Tarantino is unlikely to face the same fate:

There’s no time for mischief there, remember that, they say
Oh they’ll flog the poaching out of you down there in Botany Bay.

11 thoughts on “Tarantino Borrows Antique Guitar For Filming Of The Hateful Eight . . . Then Kurt Russell Smashes Guitar

  1. I wouldn’t put it past Mr. Tarantino to have knowingly placed the actual guitar in the scene in order to elicit a truer and more shocking response from the actress.

  2. George Lucas directed the classic American coming of age movie American Graffiti, a movie I can finally admire since seeing it “for real” circa 2012. In this case “for real” means on BD on a 92″ perforated retractable screen (dual-use ultra high end 2-ch stereo music system and Home Theater I built myself). The loudspeakers employ a commercially successful proprietary radiation pattern my friend and I co-invented.

    George directed AG in my old residence city of Petaluma, CA.

    Story goes that George told the actors (all or most were in the teens/early 20s) they must continue acting till George clearly cuts the scene. No matter what happened, no matter the error, no matter the hard ship, no matter the strange occurrence, actors were clearly ordered to keep acting till George said otherwise.

    Early in the movie, actor Charles Marin Smith arrives on his Vespa scooter, at the drive in restaurant where his friends already visit. The friends watch Smith ride up on the sidewalk. Smith is supposed to calmly stop short of the newspaper rack, park the Vespa, and walk up to his friends.

    Having just been taught to ride a powered 2-wheel vehicle, Smith is moderately incompetent. Instead of pulling in the clutch and stopping, Smith leaves the clutch engaged and the scooter in gear, smashes into the rack, comes very close to crashing to earth, and just barely saves it. He’s short, with short legs. He saves hitting tarmac by putting out his toes while the bike lurches ahead, coming to a stop against the wall of the restaurant IIRC. The other actors just kept on with the scene. Smith walks up, looks back at the almost wrecked Vespa, and claps his hands together as if to remove the almost-accident dust.

    There’s at least one other similar scene: minor Richard Dreyfus solicits adults entering a liquor store to buy him booze to drink with the girl of his dreams, whom he dates for the first time. Finally a guy agrees. Dreyfus gives him the money. The guy buys the booze, but also robs the store. The robber runs out of the store, the store guy giving chase with a gun. The robber tosses the booze to Dreyfus, but he overthrows, causing Dreyfus to lay out to make the save.

    Both scenes remain in the movie, adding a good dose of authentic realism.

    I saw someone pick up a custom gorgeous arch top guitar valued around $12k. He had too much to drink, carelessly causing his knee to strike the hand carved ebony bridge, cracking it into two irreparable pieces.

    I have some knowledge of classic Martins, but nothing that old. I have no idea what late 19th C Martins are/were like, but am sure they are much different from modern instruments, and are barely playable if at all, especially tuned to modern orchestra pitch.

    Played a $25k Santa Cruz Dreadnaught at 2011 NAMM. Shockingly, that guitar played and sounded like it’s asking price, and was actually decent value. Would have bought it if I had the money. Never thought I would have liked any guitar more than the $17k Klein I played in Sonoma, but that Santa Cruz was indeed better.

  3. Maybe the museum should run the scene with the smashing of the movie on a loop where the guitar used to be. Until then they can have a sign smashed by Tarentino’s film company, film to follow.

  4. I really liked the movie, but it’s too bad about the guitar, really should have used the prop…instead of a irreplaceable museum piece.

  5. Here is an issue worth looking into: Was there a prop laying off stage at the time, waiting to be substituted?
    With the revenues from films today it is not too callous to believe that Tarantino wanted to catch the shock from the actors that the real deal was being busted up.
    Without the Prop, money should drop. (Johnny Cochranism for the litigation over whether it was an accident or knowingly destroyed.)

  6. I just don’t see how this could have been an accident. Kurt Russell, the director and prop master, must have been aware that there was no break to switch out the irreplaceable antique she was playing with a prop. I’m glad that Leigh, at least, realized this was a thoughtless waste.

    Antiques, especially musical instruments, are not just mass produced stuff you can replace at Walmart. They have a history that is unique. I’m guessing Tarantino did not see The Red Violin.

    And this was very rude towards the museum. You keep your word if you are an honorable person. If this was an accident, fine, but if it was on purpose he just poisoned the well for the industry and museums.

  7. There are prop makers that could have easily made an identical guitar. This seems a little dodgy. Great egos come with accomplished people.

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