Quentin Tarantino met Robert Forster in a restaurant and handed him the script, saying "You're going to do this, and that's all there is to it". Forster was naturally thrilled, having had a major career slump. This film saw him come back in a big way, even landing an Oscar nomination.
When Robert De Niro first got a hold of the script he wanted to play the role of Max Cherry. Quentin Tarantino wanted to work with De Niro, but had his heart set on Robert Forster as Cherry, so he gave the role of Louis to De Niro.
Pam Grier didn't expect her long-time friend Sid Haig to play the judge. She started to burst out laughing, as she was surprised by Haig because they both starred together in several exploitation films, by which this film's style was influenced.
When Pam Grier walked in to audition for Quentin Tarantino, "there were all my posters from twenty years ago, when I was just a piss and vinegar kid," she recalled. "And I said, 'Did you put these up because I was coming over?' And he said, 'No. I was gonna take them down because you were coming over!'"
Spike Lee publicly criticized Tarantino for the frequent use of the word "nigger" in the film. Samuel L. Jackson, previously a frequent Lee collaborator, defended Tarantino in the press. Miramax chairman Harvey Weinstein called Lee in an attempt to mediate between him and Tarantino, but Lee refused to speak with Tarantino.
Louis and Ordell first appeared in the Elmore Leonard novel The Switch. At age fifteen, Quentin Tarantino was arrested for shoplifting this book, his one brush with "real" crime. In The Switch, Louis and Ordell kidnap a millionaire's wife only to discover he doesn't want her back, a plot that was used in Ruthless People (1986). In the novel's sequel, Rum Punch, Louis and Ordell complain that the movie producers stole their idea (without mentioning the movie by name).
Quentin Tarantino compares the film to Rio Bravo (1959). "It's a hangout movie," he explained. "Jackie Brown is better the second time. And I think it's even better the third. And the fourth time ... Maybe even the first time we see it we go, 'Why are we doing all this hanging out? Why can't we get to more of the plot?' But, now the second time you see it, and the third time you see it, you're not thinking about the plot anymore. You're waiting for the hangout scenes ... To me, that's the thing that Rio Bravo (1959) did. I remember the first time I saw Rio Bravo (1959), but I remember more the fifteenth time I saw Rio Bravo (1959). It's about hanging out with the characters."
In the Special Edition features, Prop Master Steve Joyner reveals what 500,000 dollars in cash, actually looks like. Joyner goes on to say, that Quentin Tarantino insisted on authenticity, hence the actual sum of money.
The music used, in the scene in the mall, where Jackie comes out of the dressing room "frantically" looking around for the undercover cops, is the same as was used in the chase scene in Coffy (1973), where Pam Grier's title character is running away from the cops.
Quentin Tarantino was afraid that Elmore Leonard would hate the film. He and Roger Avary hesitated to discuss the changes with Leonard, finally speaking with Leonard as the film was about to start shooting. Leonard loved the screenplay, considering it not only the best of the twenty-six screen adaptations of his novels and short stories, but also stating that it was possibly the best screenplay he had ever read.
When Ordell Robbie first goes to Max Cherry's office and is asked if he has the cash for the bond, he responds "I got it right here in my brand new Raptor bag." Although the logo is partially obscured, it is clearly that of the Toronto Raptors. Samuel L. Jackson was frequently courtside at Toronto Raptor games the season before filming this movie.
Robert Forster's father, whom he loved dearly, got the good news of his son's return to acting in a feature film and spent a short time on set. Sadly, he passed away before Robert received his Oscar nomination.
In the closing credits, Tarantino gives special thanks to "Bert D'Angelo's Daughter" (among others). In the late 70s, Paul Sorvino starred in a television detective show, Bert D'Angelo/Superstar (1976). Thus "Bert D'Angelo's Daughter" is Paul's daughter, and Tarantino's girlfriend at the time, Mira Sorvino.
Jackie and Max have a conversation about getting old and growing tired. Pam Grier and Robert Forster had been big stars in the seventies, but their careers had waned by the time they took this movie. Coincidentally, this movie revitalized their careers.
When Ordell first meets Max Cherry in his office, clearly visible beyond Max's desk is a large poster for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for which Robert Forster's father, Robert Wallace Forster, Sr., once worked as an elephant trainer.
According to Quentin Tarantino, Michael Keaton desperately tried to talk the director out of hiring him for the role of Ray Nicolette. "His whole process was to convince me that he's not right for the role," recalled Tarantino. "But he never quite convinced me ... Michael's whole thing is to deny himself, and to say he's not right."
After completing Pulp Fiction (1994), Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary acquired the film rights to Elmore Leonard's novels Rum Punch, Freaky Deaky, and Killshot. Tarantino initially planned to film either Freaky Deaky or Killshot and have another director make Rum Punch, but changed his mind after re-reading Rum Punch, stating that he "fell in love" with the novel all over again.
Quentin Tarantino wanted to gauge the audience's reaction to key moments in the film, so he spent the first several weeks following the film's release watching it in theaters. "I saw that movie ... like thirteen times at the Magic Johnson Theatre," said Tarantino. "The whole first four weeks it was there, I just lived there."
The inn, where Ordell and Louis have a drink, is called The Cockatoo Inn. The neon light letters t-o-o are out, so it spells The Cocka Inn: cocaine, a hint to the bags of cocaine found in Jackie's bag in the beginning of the movie.
According to Quentin Tarantino, 70s actress Carol Speed originally helped out in making this film, and was willing to play a small cameo part in the film. At the last minute, Tarantino decided not to use her in the film.
During a scene, wherein Max Cherry is searching for a Delfonic's cassette tape in a record store, the song "Letter to the Firm" by hip-hop artist Foxy Brown can be heard blaring loudly on the store's PA system. Pam Grier (who portrayed the lead character Jackie Brown) is most known for her roles in several low budget "blacksploitation" films from the '70s, particularly her starring role in Foxy Brown (1974).
Samuel L. Jackson appeared consecutively in three films adapted from authors' work in a year. These films are Jackie Brown (1997) and Out of Sight (1998), both adapted from books by Elmore Leonard - Jackie Brown was adapted from Rum Punch - and Sphere (1998) adapted from the book by Michael Crichton.
When Jackie Brown (1997) premiered on television in 2001, Radio Times's Andrew Collins had it as Film of the Week. Collins wrote in his review: "The truth is it's his most mature film. It may lack the simplicity of Reservoir Dogs (1992) or the fireworks of Pulp Fiction (1994), but it proves that Tarantino is a director who doesn't need violence to hold our attention." Also unlike Dogs and Pulp, Jackie is told in chronological order.
During the interrogation scene where Jackie is taken into custody - Detective Dargas stated that anyone in possession of over 10,000 dollars should declare it to U.S. Customs - this is based on the regulations coded by the Internal Revenue Service under Title 26 (tax code, enacted August 16, 1954 known as the Internal Revenue Code Act later amended in 1986 under the Tax Reform Act) and under Title 31 USC 5311 of the United States Code. It is against IRS regulations for an individual to carry over 10,000 dollars in currency (in this case, a cash transaction) without reporting it to U.S. Customs when entering the United States. This is further codified under Federal Law under 31 U.S.C. 5316 and Treasury Department regulations (31 CFR Chapter X) - individuals who enter the United States with over 10,000 dollars in cash (or other monetary instruments e.g. stocks, bonds), must file (after April 25,1990) a FinCEN 105 document. FinCEN is the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which is a division of the Department of the Treasury.
Two lots of the cast members - four in total - all have the same first names. They are Robert Forster and Robert De Niro, who play Max Cherry and Louis Gara respectively. Also Michael Keaton and Michael Bowen, who play Ray Nicolette and Mark Dargus respectively. Incidentally the Robert characters and the Michael characters are on opposite sides of the law.
Pam Grier's character's name is Jackie Brown. Quentin Tarantino played Mr. Brown in Reservoir Dogs (1992). So Grier and Tarantino have played characters with the same surname. Grier also played the main character in Foxy Brown (1974).
This marks the first time that Quentin Tarantino hasn't had a cameo - if you don't count his answering machine greeting on Jackie Brown's (Pam Grier's) telephone - in one of the films he's written and directed. Tarantino had roles in Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994). Additionally, unlike the aforementioned films, this film has no prologue before the opening credits.
Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robert De Niro have all co-starred with Sharon Stone. Grier in Above the Law (1988), Jackson in Sphere (1998) and De Niro in Casino (1995). Incidentally - if Above the Law had its alternate title "Nico" - then all three films would be one word titles.
Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson have co-starred with David Caruso. De Niro in Mad Dog and Glory (1993), and Jackson in Kiss of Death (1995). Incidentally, Richard Price wrote the screenplays for both films.
Robert De Niro partakes in smoking pot with Bridget Fonda from her bong. In True Romance (1993) - also written by Quentin Tarantino - Brad Pitt smokes pot from his bong in one scene. De Niro and Pitt co-starred in Sleepers (1996), released the previous year to Jackie Brown (1997). Incidentally, Sleepers director Barry Levinson wrote the screenplay from pre-existing material, just like Tarantino did here.
Samuel L. Jackson, Bridget Fonda, and Michael Keaton have all starred in films directed by Barbet Schroeder. Jackson in Kiss of Death (1995), Fonda in Single White Female (1992) and Keaton in Desperate Measures (1998).
Bridget Fonda starred in another Elmore Leonard adaptation, Touch (1997) released in the same year as Jackie Brown (1997). Like Quentin Tarantino, Paul Schrader wrote and directed his film. Incidentally, Robert De Niro starred in Taxi Driver (1976), also written by Schrader.
During the sequence where Ordell is watching television with Louis, the phone rings and he goes to the kitchen. In the fridge, there's a picture of Samuel L. Jackson naked inside a bath tub. This pic is from his role in Goodfellas (1990).
Quentin Tarantino was criticized for excessive, exploitative violence in preceding hits like Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994), so his sarcastic response to critics in this film, was to tone down the blood and guts. When Melanie is shot by Louis, we don't see anything, and when Ordell kills Louis, we are behind the action, out of view of the bullet contact.
In this film, Robert De Niro has sex with Bridget Fonda. He also had sex with her aunt, Jane Fonda, in the film Stanley and Iris (1990). De Niro is the only actor to have had sex in a film with both the aunt and the niece.
Director trademark (black humor): after Louis shot Melanie in the parking lot, in the chest and stomach - as she was making fun of him for not remembering where he had parked the car - he turned to look down briefly at where Melanie lay dead. Louis then said, "See? Just where I said it was". He acted like nothing had happened, and drove off soon thereafter.
The scene where Robert De Niro shoots Bridget Fonda in the parking lot, is similar to a scene in True Romance (1993) - which was also written by Quentin Tarantino - where Christopher Walken shoots Dennis Hopper. De Niro and Walken had been severely provoked by Fonda and Hopper respectively in these scenes.