(Spoiler warning: Don’t read this if you don’t want to know anything about “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.)
If you’ve seen a Quentin Tarantino movie, you know he has an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema from Golden Age to grindhouse. He always sprinkles little tributes to the movies that inspired him throughout his stories, and in “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” you can see a trailer for one of the classic grindhouse films of that era.
Midway through the film, Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie, decides on a whim to see herself on the big screen in the Bruin Theatre in Westwood. Playing at the cinema is “The Wrecking Crew,” the comedy she starred in alongside Dean Martin. In it, she plays Freya Carlson, the seemingly klutzy partner of Dean Martin’s secret agent character Matt Helm. As we see in a flashback in “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” Tate was trained by Bruce Lee for the martial arts scenes in the movie.
But as Tate goes to her seat in the theater, take a look at the trailer being shown on the screen. It is for the motorcycle thriller “C.C. and Company,” which starred legendary New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath. Tarantino set his film in 1969, which was the biggest year of Namath’s life. He would become MVP of Super Bowl III after guaranteeing a victory over the favored Baltimore Colts, catapulting him to stardom and to an acting career after football.
One of those films was “C.C. and Company,” which starred Namath as a biker who falls in with a gang, only to clash with that gang after he falls in love with a fashion journalist played by Ann-Margaret. Perhaps it was a little early for such a trailer to be shown to the Westwood moviegoers in February 1969, as the film was released in October 1970 to poor reviews.
Perhaps “C.C. and Company” would have faded into an obscure footnote in Namath’s life…were it not for Tarantino. Not only did he included the film in “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood,” but he has also screened it at the repertory theater he owns in West L.A., the New Beverly Cinema. Namath’s biker films were also the inspiration for “Hell Ride,” a small-budget outlaw film Tarantino produced in 2008. The film stars and is directed by Larry Bishop, who plays a vengeful biker looking to take out the gang that killed his girlfriend.
Check out the trailer for “C.C. and Company” in the clip below, and catch “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” in theaters now.