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Origin of color names?

I first saw Reservoir Dogs several years ago. More recently, I was watching Billy Wilder’s (Some Like it Hot, Sunset Blvd., etc.) last film, called Buddy, Buddy, starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. In it, Matthau is a gangster and in one scene, he is on the phone discussing other gangsters and referring to them with colors for names. I’ve never seen this done outside of these two films, but I can’t find Quentin anywhere crediting Wilder for this. But maybe Wilder wasn’t the first to do it - I really don’t know. Anyone here who does? I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to find Quentin taking a bit out of an obscure, not-so-great-film, and making that aspect great and very much his own. Thanks to anyone who has an answer…Wilder is my favorite director and it would be great to think of his influence stretching this far… ;D

I think QT got the color names idea from another heist film called The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974). Its a really good film starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. In the film Shaw and the other robbers have color names like Mr Gray, etc.

Interesting - still Matthau. Maybe he gave Wilder the idea…who knows (especially since Wilder was notorious for not letting actors change his scripts)? Thanks for the help though… :slight_smile:

I watched THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE yesterday. Pretty good Subway-Gangster movie with Robert Shaw and Walter Matthau.


  • The Color names of the gangsters (Grey, Green, Blue)
  • one of the gangsters is a trigger-happy asshole (like Blonde)
  • The Gangsters kill each other in the end.
  • There is an undercover cop among the hostages

    … I can’t think of more, but I think there are, like… .the background checks on some of the convicts then and such…

Ancient news dude. Its 2003. Most of us new that 10 years ago. :slight_smile: