Stuck in the MiddleMichael W. Johnson English 151 10/12/95Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty were a duo known as Stealers Wheel when theyrecorded a Dylanesque pop hit, “Stuck in the Middle With You”, in April of 1974.The single reached number five on the charts – little did they know thateighteen years later it would become a cult favorite.
In 1992 Quentin Tarantino, a little known writer/director, took theCannes film festival and the world by surprise with his motion picture ReservoirDogs. The movie is about the difficulties that occur when five “master”criminals are hired by a crime king pin named Joe to pull off the biggestdiamond heist of the century.Stuck right in the middle of the movie, the Egan/Rafferty hit is playedas a introduction to one of the best or worst torture seens ever in the historyof movies. It depends on how you look at it. I’ll set-up the scene in the moviewhere it is being played, try and follow me..
. The five criminals hired go bycolor-coded names . During the heist the cops show and things got out ofcontrol. Two of the robbers were shot and killed after Mr. Blonde, the “on theedge” gangster started shooting up the place when an employee triggered thealarm.
Mr. White and Mr. Orange (an undercover cop) escaped the scene andheaded for the hideout where all the men were supposed to meet.
On the way tothe hideout Mr. Orange was shot, he was bleeding severely but the injury was notlife threatening. Shortly after their arrival, Mr. Pink met with them and theyall anxiousley waited for Mr. Blonde.Mr.
Blonde, acting cool and unaffected by the mornings events, made hisentrance. After being questioned by Mr. White about why he went psycho in thestore, Mr. Blonde called them out to see a “surprise” he had in his trunk.
Mr.Blonde in an effort to find out how the police heard about the robbery inadvance had kidnapped a police officer. They carried the man into the warehouseand after tying him to a chair Mr.
White and Mr. Pink commenced beating the hellout of him. They Asked him to tell how the police knew of the heist, he saidhe knew nothing and after beating on him some more, Nice Guy Eddie came in. Hewas Joe’s son and told Mr. White and Mr. Pink that they would have to come withhim to ditch the cars.
Mr. Blonde was told to stay and keep an eye on the copand the injured Mr. Orange.
My idea is that the following scene was written byDirector Tarantino choreographed to the song by Stealers Wheel. Rather than thenorm where a scene is written and the music is picked thereafter. As I describethe scene I will give the lyrics to the song and show how they correspond to thecharacters actions in the scene.
Mr. Blonde starts talking to the cop, who still insists he knowsnothing. The lyrics to the song begin; keep in mind that I am suggesting thatthe words are what the cop is thinking.Well I don’t know why I came here tonight. I got the feeling that somethingain’t right. I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair, and I’m wondering howI’ll get down the stairs. Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right.
.. HereI am stuck in the middle with you.The words being sung tell us that the cop is wondering how he got intothis situation, he knows something is up, and he is scared that he may not beable to make it through the rest of this torturous interrogation alive.
Theclowns are his fellow officers who allowed the situation to get so out ofcontrol, and the jokers are Mr. White and Mr. Pink. And now he is stuck in themiddle of this whole ordeal with the most cynical, evil, and hardest criminal ofthe bunch.
Blonde.Yes I’m stuck in the middle with you and I’m wondering what it is I should doIt’s so hard to keep this smile from my face cause I’m and I’m all over theplace (chorus)These are the lines that justify what I am saying the most. He iswondering what he should do, he knows that Mr. Orange is a cop and if he were tomention it to Mr. Blonde it may save his life. It is an internal conflict inwhich he heroically decides to keep quiet.
He can’t keep the smile off his facebecause he knows the cops are outside just waiting for Joe to come to thewarehouse so they can bust the whole operation, and when he comes the torturewill be over.Well you started out with nothin’ and your proud that your a self -made man. Andyour friends they all come callin’ – slap you on the back and say – please,please. Tryin’ to make some sense of it all But I can see it makes no sense atall Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor? ’till I think that I can’t takeanymore. (Chorus)Here, the officer is bringing out the fact that Mr.
Blonde is proud ofhis life as a criminal, and proud that his friends, Joe and Nice Guy Eddiecome callin’ -begging Mr. Blonde to work for them right after he got out ofprison. The cop tries to understand the situation that he is in but he realizesit is a lost cause. The last two lines show what the officer is asking himself.
Should he spill his guts or should he keep quiet until Joe shows up.The music stops. The cop is a bloody mess, Mr. Blonde had not only beathim, he had cut off his ear, and doused him with gasoline. He was just aboutready to set him on fire when six gunshots rang out– Mr. Orange, theundercover cop had shot Mr.
Blonde to death. Joe, Nice Guy Eddie, Mr. Pink andMr. White all return shortly thereafter. They find Mr.
Blonde, the cop, and Mr.Orange all covered in blood and question Mr. Orange about what happened. Mr.Orange tried to explain that Mr.
Blonde was going to burn the cop, and splitwith the diamonds. Joe called him a traitor and would not believe him. Joe shotthe police officer and was ready to kill Mr. Orange when Mr. White turns his gunon Joe to protect his friend. Intern Nice Guy Eddie turns his gun on Mr.
White.Sirens could be heard as the movie hit its climax – the cops bust in and threeshots are heard, and three bodies drop to the floor.Quentin Tarintino is a acumen in the the field music, I believe he trulywrote the seen I described – the torture seen – to coincide with the StealersWheel song. In the research of my opinion I luckily stumbled on a quote fromTarentino taken from the compact disc booklet of “Truth and Fiction.””Personnally, I don’t know if Jerry Rafferty neccessarily appreciated theconnotations that I brought to “Stuck in the Middle With You”. There’s a goodchance he didn’t.
But that’s one of the things about using music in moviesthat’s so cool: the fact that if you do it right, it’s about as cinematic athing as you can do.You’re really doing what movies do better than any otherart form. It works in this visceral, emotional, cinematic way that’s special.And when you do it right and you hit it right, then you can never really hearthat song again without thinking about that image from the movie. That’s whatcomercials are counting on, but it never quite works with commercials.The thing is, once a movie has done that with a song, as far as I’mconcerned that movie owns it.
I mean, they’ve used “Stand By Me” so many times,but to me the one that used “Stand By Me” that way was The Wanderers. They play”Stand By Me” as the lead character, Ken Wahl, realizes that JFK has been shot.And it’s perfect.”I couldn’t agree more with what Tarentino is saying.
His moviesespecially draw upon music to make the scenes flow together in a surreal,inspiring style. What more can a movie connoisseur like myself ask for in amovie? As Tarentino says “Stand By Me” is perfect in The Wanderers, I say”Stuck in the Middle With You” is perfect in Resovoir Dogs.Miscellaneous