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While it is perhaps my least favourite Quentin Tarantino film I was nonetheless curious to see that Kill Bill was rejected by the US Marine Corps for filming support.  They only wanted one location, a warehouse, for three days of shooting but the answer was a hard ‘no’.  While the exact reasons for the rejection aren’t made clear in the brief file from the Marines, it likely has to do with the film’s ultra-violent plot.

In late October 2002 Location Manager Doug McClintock visited Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.  He asked for permission to film a scene for Kill Bill in a warehouse on the base, leading to an internal email from a Gary Henderson asking what to do about this request.  Evidently, he’d never heard of the Motion Picture and TV Liaison Office in Los Angeles.  Henderson’s email said:

Mr. McClintock’s firm is currently shooting a film in a canyon near Yermo and asked if FSD can accommodate approximately 150 feet of warehouse space to shoot a scene for the film. We do have the space and we can accommodate. They would like to shoot the scene in early Nov which will take approximately 3 days. He also mentioned that at some point during the shooting there will be about 110 people involved.

I thought we should run this by addresses for coordination with regards to security requirements for entry purposes and legal aspects in the event there maybe an injury while shooting the scene.

Feedback will be appreciated.

The gent did mention the names of a few stars that will be here during the shooting – autographs will be allowed.

Henderson was told to contact the entertainment liaison office, but the following day sent out another email asking:

The gent from the production firm called and would like to see the space we can provide them at 1000 (my time). Is it a go??????

He was told in no uncertain terms that:

Sir, it’s NOT a go; HQMC (PA)/Los Angles Office has it for action. Maj. Bartelt or 1lst Lt Rushing from HQMC (PA)/LA will contact MCLB Barstow PAO when all has been approved or not. Please stand down.

Sure enough, an email from Josh Rushing at the LA office confirmed that ‘DoD will not support the Kill Bill film…  The film does not meet guidelines for DoD support.’  While Rushing did not outline any specifics for why Kill Bill had been rejected so completely and immediately, it is evident from the timeline that there was no time for a script review or any discussions about the film’s content.  Thus, it was presumably Tarantino’s history of making super-violent films replete with swearing and racist slang that made the movie a no-go area for the Pentagon and the Marines.

Even at that point, with just three major movies under his belt as a director (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown) and a couple of writing credits on True Romance and From Dusk Till Dawn, Quentin’s reputation preceded him.  The fact he also did uncredited screenwriting work on Crimson Tide, which was rejected by the US Navy, and The Rock, which never even asked for military assistance, surely did not help his cause either.

And so, Kill Bill went the way of Platoon, Sgt Bilko and Starship Troopers 2 in being turned down for production assistance by the world’s most aggressive military.  One wonders whether a story with a super-violent heroine on a revenge tear would actually make it through the filters today.  Captain Marvel did.

Military Documents on Kill Bill

US Marine Corps file on Kill Bill