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Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood was celebrated upon its release and now that the end of the year is here, the film is getting the awards recognition that was expected to come. It looks like the film has done pretty much everything right. Except, John Travolta has revealed, that the movie actually has a continuity error inside it that most people almost certainly haven't noticed.
In addition to being an accomplished actor who has appeared in Quentin Tarantino films himself, Travolta is also a licensed pilot, though, more importantly, he's a self-proclaimed "aviation nerd." It's this last part of Travolta's life that gave him the knowledge base to catch an error in Tarantino's latest film. During a recent Q&A following Travolta's latest movie (via The Wrap), The Fanatic, the actor revealed that Leonardo DiCaprio's character could not have flown on the airplane he is shown on near the end of the film. According to Travolta...
Leonardo [DiCaprio, who plays Rick Dalton] is going home from Italy or wherever he was, and the narrator says that he took a 747. Well, the 747 had its test flight in February 1969, but it went into service in January 1970. They’re nine months off! He would have been on a Boeing 707!
In Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood, Leonardo DiCaprio's character, whose career has been struggling in Hollywood, moves to Italy for a period to make spaghetti westerns. After making a string of the films, and some money, he heads back to California in mid-1969, just before the Manson Family attack on Sharon Tate, which took place in August of that year.
We see DiCaprio fly home in a 747, which, while it technically existed during the period in which the film takes place, was not in regular service yet. This isn't a piece of trivia that we would expect most licensed pilots to even know, but John Travolta is a student of aviation, and so he apparently knew this off the top of his head.
Of course, it needs to be said that Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood isn't exactly a movie that strives for historical accuracy. The characters played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt never existed, and the events in August 1969 at the home of Roman Polanski don't exactly take place in the movie they way they played out in real life.
Having said that, it seems unlikely that the decision to use the 747 rather than the more accurate 707 was in any way an intentional anachronism in order to enhance the unreality of the story. This probably was a legitimate, if largely unimportant, error. Although, with Quentin Tarantino you can never be quite sure.
John Travolta has certainly earned his title of "aviation nerd" here. It's a really good catch that few other people would notice.