Lawrence Bender is an American movie producer best known for his close working relationship with renowned director Quentin Tarantino. Ever since producing the breakout piece Reservoir Dogs, Bender has been the producer for all but three of Tarantino’s films. The films produced by Lawrence Bender have been nominated for 29 Academy Awards, with six of those nominations leading to a win.
One often overlooked yet highly entertaining Bender-Tarantino collaboration is the movie Four Rooms, a quirky four-part performance linked by a frame story, all based on the writings of Roald Dahl. While Dahl is best known for his children’s books, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or James and the Giant Peach, he also wrote critically-acclaimed literature for adults. In particular, Four Rooms draws from Dahl’s Man From The South.
Four Rooms follows Ted, a bellboy staffing a high-end hotel all by himself on New Year’s Eve, played by actor Tim Roth. As Ted navigates his way through an evening from hell, he finds himself dealing with a wide variety of quirky and unsavory characters. Ted does his best to service a coven of witches headed by Madonna, rescue a wife played by Jennifer Beals from her manic husband, look after the unruly children of a Latino businessman portrayed by Antonio Banderas, and finally help settle a bet between a playboy director and his friends.
In the final scene, the director is played by Quentin Tarantino himself, and it’s in this scene that Lawrence Bender finally makes his cameo in a role referred to in the credits as “Long Hair Yuppie Scum.” Bender loves making cameos, as does Tarantino, and he has made a habit of it, appearing in eight small roles throughout his career as a producer.
Given its star-studded cast, brilliant acting, unusual plot, and off-color comedy, it’s safe to say that Four Rooms is the hidden gem of Lawrence Bender’s career. It received solidly negative reviews when released in 1995, but with the sheen of time its style and subject matter are absolutely worth revisiting for a one-of-a-kind laugh-out-loud viewing experience.