(detailed information about this entry from Wikipedia)
- This article is about the movie Pulp Fiction. For the lurid publications, see Pulp fiction.
Pulp Fiction is a 1994 film directed by Quentin Tarantino and written by Tarantino and Roger Avary. It was released to critical and public acclaim and is regarded by many as a milestone in movie history, helping to establish an ascendant independent film movement in the United States. Its fragmented storyline, eclectic dialogue, irony and camp influences, unorthodox camerawork, and numerous pop culture references have since colored countless movies. Tarantino and Avary won Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and the film was nominated for seven Oscars in total, including Best Picture.
The film runs in nonlinear order, as almost all of Tarantino's films do. This became a popular film trend that was widely mimicked in the late 1990s.
The film's title refers to the pulp magazines popular during the mid–20th century, known for their strongly graphic nature.
- Girls like me don't make invitations like this to just anyone!
- You won't know the facts until you've seen the fiction.
- From the creators of "True Romance" & "Reservoir Dogs"
- I don't smile for pictures.
- Just because you are a character doesn't mean you have character.
Reception and influence
Pulp Fiction is perennially found both on critics' lists (such as the AFI's One Hundred Years, 100 Movies List) and in popular rankings, placing consistently in the top 10 on the IMDB Top 250 List. In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted it the 18th greatest comedy film of all time. In Britain (2001), it was voted as the 4th greatest film of all time in a nationwide poll for Channel 4, beaten only by The Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather and Star Wars. In 2005, Time.com named it one of the 100 best movies of the last 80 years. It won the 1994 Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. It was named Best Picture by the L.A. Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics. Many critics, including Siskel and Ebert, have compared Tarantino's success with Pulp Fiction to that of Orson Welles after the release of his Citizen Kane.
The movie was moderately controversial at the time of its release, partly due to the graphic violence and partly due to its perceived racism, as Jackson and Travolta played moderately sympathetic characters who freely used the words "motherfucker" and "nigger" (along with variations of the respective words).
The success of Pulp Fiction spurred studios to release a slew of "copycat" films soon after that tried to duplicate the film's formula of witty and offbeat dialogue, an elliptical/non-chronological plot and unconventional storyline, and gritty subject matter. Most, if not all of these films, did not fare well at the box office and were dismissed by critics as inferior and derivative, though the raver film Go did receive critical acclaim, as did Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; the latter being a particularly successful transplant of the film's basic premise into the underworld of London.
The unconventional attitude of the movie, in particular its lack of a standard chronological structure, has often led the film to be cited as an example of a postmodernist film.
The film had a significant impact on the lives of its cast members. It revived the fortunes of John Travolta who was going through a career slump at the time, and Bruce Willis solidified his career as a leading man and taking on a different range of character. It got Uma Thurman onto the Hollywood A-list and led to more work for character actors such as Ving Rhames and Harvey Keitel. However, the actor who gained the most from Pulp Fiction was Samuel L. Jackson, who wowed critics and audiences in a part Quentin Tarantino wrote especially for him. Eric Stoltz also profitted. Once relegated to supporting roles, Jackson became prominent in independent film.
Using many elements of a black comedy with many stylistic and pop culture touches, Pulp Fiction weaves through the intersecting storylines of Los Angeles gangsters, fringe characters, petty thieves and a mysterious attaché case. Following Quentin Tarantino's more traditional crime movie, Reservoir Dogs, the storyline is chopped up, rearranged and shown out of sequence, a technique borrowed from French nouvelle vague (New Wave) directors such as Jean-Luc Godard (Bande à part) and François Truffaut and from low-budget American crime films such as Stanley Kubrick's The Killing (1956) (itself a likely influence on Reservoir Dogs). The highly stylized and fluid action sequences and deadpan dialogue were inspired by Italian director Sergio Leone's famed spaghetti western pictures of the 1960s.
There are four main storylines in Pulp Fiction: Vincent and Jules; Mia Wallace; Butch Coolidge; and Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. All four are intertwined, although Vincent is the only one of these six characters to meet all of the five others during the film.
The order of events as shown in the film:
- The Diner (first half)
- Vince and Jules
- "Mia Wallace"
- "The Gold Watch"
- "The Bonnie Situation"
- The Diner (second half)
The actual chronological order of events:
- Vince and Jules
- "The Bonnie Situation"
- The Diner (both halves)
- "Mia Wallace"
- "The Gold Watch"
Vincent & Jules
John Travolta (left) and Samuel L. Jackson as Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield, respectively. Here, they are depicted in Tarantino's signature trunk shot.
Hitmen Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) head to a Los Angeles apartment to retrieve a briefcase that was involved in a failed deal for their boss, gangster Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). They also have to kill Brett (Frank Whaley), the one who was supposed to have set up the deal, and his cohorts. The briefcase is a classic MacGuffin, whose contents are never revealed except indirectly as a glowing yellow light (a homage to the 1955 Robert Aldrich film Kiss Me Deadly and the 1984 Alex Cox project Repo Man). There has been speculation among fans that the case contains something of supernatural origin, possibly Marsellus' soul. More sensibly, the briefcase may have held gold. The briefcase is light enough to carry easily with one hand, so it couldn't have held much gold, but it might have contained a gold artifact or sculpture that was still very valuable.
John Travolta (left) and Samuel L. Jackson as Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield, respectively.
After a long and bizarre conversation led by the Scripture-spouting Jules (Ezekiel 25: 17, 'The path of the righteous man'), the pair shoot and kill Brett and two of his accomplices, quickly departing with the last of the gang, who in fact is Jules' informant, Marvin. Shortly afterward, while in Jules' car, Vincent accidentally shoots Marvin in the head, killing him, and the two hitmen quickly try to find a place to hide and clean up the mess in the car with the aid of snotty suburbanite Jimmie Dimmick (Quentin Tarantino) and the associate/henchman of Marsellus, the dapper and mysterious Winston Wolfe (Harvey Keitel). Jackson's and Travolta's characters had been reportedly inspired by the pair of hitmen played by Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager in Don Siegel's 1964 film The Killers and the obscure 1965 French actioner Je Vous Salue, Mafia! starring Henry Silva and Jack Klugman.
During the encounter in Brett's apartment, one of the accomplices emerges from the bathroom and sends a hail of bullets towards Jules and Vincent, both of whom sustain no impact. Jules interprets this as divine intervention, which causes him deep reflection. He recognizes he has been "redeemed" and he will ultimately decide to renounce his gangster life and devote his life to serving God. He makes this decision at The Diner: in so doing, he decides not to kill Pumpkin. The redemption of Jules paved the way for the redemption of Pumpkin and, by extension, Honey Bunny.
Uma Thurman plays Mia Wallace.
At Marsellus' request, Vincent Vega shows his wife Mia (Uma Thurman) a good time while Marsellus is out of town. Vinnie shows up at Mia's house and while waiting for her to get ready, she plays a classic song on the sound system. The song was the hit "Son of a Preacher Man", by Dusty Springfield. They head to the (fictional) restaurant Jack Rabbit Slim's, a slick 1950s-themed restaurant with lookalikes of the decade's top pop culture icons as staff (e.g., television impresario Ed Sullivan as the maître d', and servers such as singer Buddy Holly and actresses Marilyn Monroe and Mamie van Doren), an option for patrons to eat at a booth or a classic car refitted as a booth, and the famous "Five-Dollar Milkshake".
Vincent and Mia make small talk, wherein she recounts her experience as an actress in a failed television pilot, "Fox Force Five." The show followed the exploits of an all-female team of secret agents, each having a particular specialty (this premise inspired the theme for the Spice Girls' 1996 music video for their song "Say You'll Be There" in which the girls adopt similar fictional identities). Mia's character, Raven McCoy, was raised by circus performers and (according to the show) was "...the deadliest woman in the world with a knife." She also knew a "zillion" old jokes her grandfather, an old vaudevillian, taught her, though she refuses to share with Vincent the joke Raven tells in the pilot out of fear of being embarrassed.
In Mia's words, the rest of the troupe had other formidable abilities:
- "Fox, as in we're a bunch of foxy chicks. Force, as in we're a force to be reckoned with. Five, as in there's one..two ...three..four..five of us. There was a blonde one, Sommerset O'Neal from that show "Baton Rouge", she was the leader. A Japanese one, a black one, a French one and a brunette one, me. We all had special skills. Sommerset had a photographic memory, the Japanese fox was a kung fu master, the black girl was a demolition expert, the French fox's specialty was sex..."
Mia then demands that Vincent dance with her in the Jack Rabbit Slim's twist contest and they dance to Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell". When they return to the Wallace house, she is seen carrying the trophy. While listening to Urge Overkill's version of Neil Diamond's "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon", Mia overdoses after snorting heroin, that she finds in Vince's coat pocket, which she was wearing, believing it to be cocaine. A fearful Vincent tries to save her life with the aid of the small-time drug dealer (Eric Stoltz) who had previously sold him the heroin. Mia is finally revived after Vincent, at the climax of a painfully comic and suspenseful scene, stabs her in the heart with a syringe full of adrenaline.
Mia wakes up with a howl and when asked to say something, says "something". The drug dealer's dysfunctional wife (Rosanna Arquette) remarks "That was fuckin' trippy".
Upon arriving back at the Wallace residence, Mia finally reveals her corny joke: "So there's Papa Tomato, Momma Tomato and Baby Tomato walking along the street. Baby Tomato starts lagging behind, and Papa Tomato starts getting really angry. So, he turns around and squishes Baby Tomato and says, 'Ketchup.' (Catch Up) "
In their last conversation, they agree not to tell Marsellus of the overdosing incident, both fearing what he might do to either of them.
Tarantino has noted that he first thought of the premise and main character (The Bride) of Kill Bill during the writing and filming of this scene. The "Fox Force Five" bears a striking resemblance to the "DiVAS" of Kill Bill.
Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) in the pawnshop.
Aging prizefighter Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) accepts a large sum of money from Marsellus, agreeing to "take a dive" (deliberately lose a fight) by allowing himself to be knocked out in the fifth round of his upcoming match. However, Butch double-crosses Marsellus, instead betting the money he received from Marsellus on himself (with, due to the fight's being fixed, presumably very favorable odds) and winning the bout, accidentally killing his opponent in the process. Although now flush with cash, Butch must quickly leave town, as a vengeful Marsellus is hot on his trail. (Butch's character and his situation appear to have been inspired by a similar character previously played by Robert Ryan in the 1949 film noir classic The Set-Up. As originally written Butch is supposed to be in his twenties but the age was adapted to accommodate Willis)
There is also a flashback at the beginning of the "The Gold Watch" storyline (Butch's story), in which the child Butch Coolidge (Chandler Lindauer) receives his watch from a buddy of his father's (Christopher Walken), his father having died in a Vietnam War prison camp. This gold watch, which has been passed down from father to son since his great-grandfather fought in World War I, is of great sentimental value to Butch.
Butch is compelled to return to his apartment to retrieve the wristwatch after he discovers his girlfriend Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros) has forgotten to pack it. Satisfied no one awaits to kill him in his apartment, he grabs a pack of toaster pastries, an imitation of Pop-Tarts, in his kitchen and puts them in the toaster on the counter. While waiting for the pastries to pop out, Butch finally notices a MAC-10 submachinegun (not his own) on the kitchen counter. Upon hearing his toilet flush, he readies himself in time to encounter Vincent coming out of the bathroom. The toaster pastries pop and Butch fires the gun, killing Vincent. Vincent had been "thrice redeemed" (once by Mia, once in the apartment, and finally through Marsellus' sending of "The Wolfe" to clean up Vincent's mess, having accidentally shot Marvin in the face) and failed to acknowledge as Jules did that something special had happened. His death can be considered a "judgment" of sorts.
Although it is never shown that Marsellus was at Butch's apartment, there are clues in the scene suggesting that Marsellus was indeed present. First, after Butch leaves his apartment, he finds Marsellus walking across the street carrying donuts and holding two cups of coffee, presumably one for himself and another for Vincent. This would also explain why Butch encounters Marsellus shortly after leaving the apartment. Second, it would seem odd that a professional like Vincent would not keep his gun with him: the answer is that the submachine gun may have belonged to Marsellus. Otherwise, it might also simply have been an indication that, after three redemptive occurances that are unacknowledged by Vincent, he becomes "lazy", losing his edge, not keeping his gun with him. This is in marked contrast to the Diner scene where he emerges from the washroom very prepared to act. In fact, his being in the washroom in each of scenes (Mia's, The Diner, and his closing act) indicate the washroom is a type of womb for him, keeping him out of harm's way. Emerging from the washroom should happen after the trouble is past or he is prepared to deal with whatever is in front of him. In this last situation, he emerges unprepared; perhaps one more interventive act on his part is no longer worthwhile, given he has "missed" all the others and their significance.
While driving back to the motel from the apartment complex, Butch accidentally (and literally) runs into Marsellus himself. The scene of Marsellus crossing Butch's path is reminiscent of a scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Following a scuffle replete with car collisions, gunplay and fisticuffs, Butch and Marsellus are captured and tied up by a couple of hicks (a pawnshop owner and his friend, a security guard) who turn out to be sexual predators and sadists. They take Marsellus into the back room and rape him; Butch escapes his bonds and in a disturbing, comic, and somewhat surreal scene, he is faced with the choice of saving himself or aiding Marsellus. Knowing Marsellus wanted him dead, he could easily have left Marsellus in the hands of the odd-ball assailants. Butch, on the other hand, makes a choice to release Marsellus, risking that he might fail or that Marsellus might not accept his overture.
He looks around the shop, finding a hammer, a baseball bat, a chainsaw and finally a katana on the top of the shelf and attacks the rapists with it, allowing Marsellus to free himself. Once the rapists have been subdued, Butch re-masculates the violated Marsellus by submitting himself to Marsellus' judgment. Butch asks "what now?" and awaits Marsellus' decision. Marsellus, who originally intended to hunt Butch down and exact his revenge for the botched boxing fix, now must realize that Butch has both saved his life and submitted to him: he decides that Butch is free as long as he never tells anyone about the incident of his rape, and never returns to LA. Butch is free, redeemed, as is Marsellus.
Tarantino has also noted that the katana inspired its use as the basis of the samurai action sequences of Kill Bill.
The scene in the pawnshop, which is filled with Nazi and Confederate memorabilia, is somewhat reminiscent of a confrontation in the 1993 film Falling Down, in which Michael Douglas, an unemployed aerospace engineer on a rampage through Los Angeles, confronts the owner of a similar establishment, and asserts his implicitly anti-Fascist Americanism in the confrontation.
Pumpkin & Honey Bunny
Pumpkin (Tim Roth, right) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) hold up the diner.
Over a late breakfast in a diner, a pair of petty thieves, Pumpkin/Ringo (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny/Yolanda (Amanda Plummer), discuss the merits of robbing restaurants instead of their usual targets, small banks and liquor stores. After establishing that restaurants are far easier and more lucrative to rob (the employees are less invested in the business, and there are plenty of customers with fat wallets), they spontaneously decide to hold up the diner, demanding all the patrons' money and valuables. Vincent and Jules (fresh from Jimmie's house, wearing a couple of "dorky" borrowed T-shirts) happen to be among the diner patrons. When Ringo demands that Jules hand over the case, Jules holds him at gunpoint in a semi-Mexican standoff with Yolanda (and Vincent, who emerges from the restroom with gun drawn and pointed at Yolanda; in this standoff, not everyone will die, because no one has a gun pointed at Vincent). Jules explains his ambivalence toward his life of crime, takes his wallet back from Ringo (sans the cash inside because Jules "bought Ringo's life"), and lets the pair go free.
The mysterious briefcase
The code for the briefcase: 6-6-6.
The only indisputable observations about the stolen attaché case recovered by Jules and Vincent are that its latch lock combination is "666", the "number of the Beast" as given in the Biblical Book of Revelation, and that the contents of the case either glow or are highly reflective. Whenever asked, director Tarantino has replied that there is no explanation for the case's contents: it is simply a MacGuffin. The case is most likely a nod to Robert Aldrich's 1955 film noir Kiss Me Deadly, in which a similar briefcase glows because it contains a small nuclear device. Originally, the Pulp Fiction case was to contain diamonds, but this was seen as too mundane.
For filming purposes, the briefcase contained an orange lightbulb with a battery.
Some theories on whats inside the briefcase include : Marsellus Wallace's soul, the ear from Reservoir Dogs, a severed head, or just an orange lightbulb. Another theory purports that what the suitcase contains is not important, or even that it's empty. What makes it important is Marsellus' want for it - and Vincent and Jules' willingness to kill and risk their own lives to get it for him. A new theory gaining prominence is that the briefcase contains a golden gun. The roots of this rumor come from the 1966 Spaghetti Western "Ringo and his Golden Pistol", Jules calling Tim Roth's character "Ringo" and Quentin Tarantino's love of Italian Westerns.
The soul theory is widespread among Pulp Fiction fans. Knowing that in Tarantino’s movies, almost nothing is purely coincidental, many fans therefore don’t believe the MacGuffin story. In short, the soul-theory states that Marsellus had sold his soul to the Devil and the briefcase now contains Marsellus’ soul. Vincent and Jules are then sent to retrieve the soul from Devil’s associates. There are a number of things in the movie which, if interpreted in a specific way, can be seen as proof of the soul story.
In the bar scene where Marsellus is talking with Butch, we mostly see his neck with a large band-aid on it. It is said that when the Devil removes (or sucks out) your soul, it is done through the back of your neck. The band-aid has no specific purpose in the movie and the audience never sees why it’s there or how Marsellus got it. The band-aid is gone when we see Marsellus looking for Butch after the boxing match; this is the first time we see Marsellus after the briefcase has been retrieved. The main reason for the band-aid theory is the fact it’s so prominent when we see him for the first time and that it’s gone when Marsellus gets the briefcase back.
It is often said that eyes are the windows to the soul. Marsellus is shown at all times wearing pitch black sun glasses before he receives his briefcase and, connecting to the band-aid notion, he no longer wears the glasses later.
The Number of the Beast
We see that the combination is "666", the "number of the Beast" as given in the Biblical Book of Revelation. The code is also featured quite prominently, and many fans of the movie see the specific number as a clue that the briefcase belongs to Satan.
The Divine Intervention
The fourth man fails to kill or even hit Jules and Vincent at point blank with a high-caliber handgun. Jules recognizes this as a miracle and is therefore redeemed, Vincent dies later in the movie. The question is why God would protect two gangsters who just killed two people. The popular answer which fits in the soul-theory is that the four young men in the apartment were actually associates of the Devil, and therefore Jules and Vincent were (unintentionally) doing God’s work.
When Brett is shot by Jules and Vincent, we see a strange yellow glow coming from the direction of his (out of screen) body. This could be the glow of his soul exiting his body, the same as the glow of Marsellus’ soul inside the briefcase. There is no similar glow during any other of the deaths in the movie, though.
It can be argued that this "glow" is merely the muzzle flashes of Vincent and Jules' pistols, however.
When Marvin is asked whether he believes that they witnessed an act of God, he says he doesn’t have an opinion. This doesn’t mean he does or doesn’t believe in God, but could mean he in fact is an associate of the Devil and therefore is either afraid of God or doesn’t want to say anything about it. The gun accidentally goes off and shoots Marvin in the head. This again could be a freak occurrence, but Vincent seems to be certain he didn’t pull the trigger. It’s also a coincidence that the gun hit Marvin precisely in the head. Again, the people who favor the soul theory see this as another act of God, as he imposes his judgment on all four associates of the Devil.
When Ringo (Pumpkin) finally sees the contents of the briefcase, he asks whether it’s what he thinks it is. If the case contained mere gold or diamonds or anything of recognizable value, he wouldn’t be asking that question. So the object in the case is something rare or unusual. Ringo also says that the content of the case is beautiful. He also keeps looking at the case in an amazed or even hypnotized way, as if he’s seeing something amazing or supernatural. This can be interpreted as Ringo seeing the eternal soul and being amazed by its beauty and radiance. The question in this interpretation is how he recognizes the fact that it’s a soul.
When Vincent finds the case in the lower right cupboard in the kitchen, he seems to stare at its contents. His level of amazement is nowhere near that of Ringo’s, but he still fails to react when Jules asks him: “Vincent, we happy?” Only after Jules asks the same question again, in a louder voice, does Vincent seem to ‘snap out of it’ and responds. The script clearly states “Vincent just stares at it, transfixed.”
Many fans say that the film is quite religious in some ways, so this (temporary) redemption of Marsellus’s soul is not too farfetched to be a well-hidden thing in the movie. The fact that the case has a great value for Marsellus and that Vincent and Ringo are as transfixed when they look at the contents only means that they see something very special and interesting inside the briefcase. This could be a lot of things and there is no indication that this special thing is a soul. Brett’s ‘glowing’ death could also be a technical problem with the film. Marvin’s death and the Divine Intervention are open for interpretation, but are in no way linked to the briefcase. The band-aid is prominently visible in the movie, but is also not linked to anything else. The only real reference to the devil is the code; the number 666 is widely recognized as the Number of the Beast or the number of the Devil. The soul theory is quite farfetched and mostly based on speculation.
Some Tarantino fans, on the other hand, do believe that there are too many coincidences around the briefcase and the band-aid to make it ‘just’ a MacGuffin. The facts stand that very few items are coincidental in a Tarantino movie and that most have symbolical meanings and therefore they believe that the prominent showing of the band-aid and the 666 combination simply isn’t a coincidence.
Jules' Bible passage
"And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers."
As explained by Jules in the final scene in the diner, he recites a passage from the Bible — Ezekiel 25:17 — each time he kills someone. The passage reads as follows:
- The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.
has original text related to this article:
This is, in fact, not an actual passage from the Bible, but a collage of several passages. Ezekiel 25:17 in the King James Version reads:
- And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them.
This is actually a typically obscure reference to Karate Kiba / Chiba the Bodyguard, a 1976 film starring Sonny Chiba (whom Tarantino has hailed as "the greatest actor to ever work in martial arts films"), which opens with a nearly identical misquote, likewise attributed to Ezekiel 25:17:
- The path of the righteous man and defender is beset on all sides by the iniquity of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper, and the finder of lost children. And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious anger, who poison and destroy my brothers; and they shall know that I am Chiba the Bodyguard when I lay my love upon them! (Ezekiel 25:17)
Tarantino uses the toilet or bathroom as a plot device. When Jules and Vincent are shooting Brett & his companions, a fourth man is hiding by the toilet, waiting to fire. When Mia comes back from 'powdering' her nose at Jackrabbit Slim's, their quiet dinner turns into them competing in a dance contest and they start being more and more attracted to each other. When Vincent goes to the toilet, things are about to change drastically. A fun and romantic evening out with Mia turns into a nightmare when Mia takes her drug overdose. Vincent goes to the toilet on a quiet morning, during a stake-out at Butch’s apartment, when he comes out Butch is there pointing a MAC-10 at him and eventually killing him. Vincent and Jules’ breakfast and ethical conversation in the diner turns into an armed robbery while Vincent is in the bathroom.
Connections to Reservoir Dogs
In Tarantino's 1992 mainstream directorial debut Reservoir Dogs, Michael Madsen plays a character named "Vic Vega"—suspiciously close to Travolta's "Vincent Vega."
There are some who think that the briefcase contains the diamonds from Reservoir Dogs. Tarantino, however, confirms that Reservoir Dogs is meant to end with Mr. Pink's capture by the police. Steve Buscemi is later seen playing a waiter in Jack Rabbit Slim's; however it is unknown if he is playing the Mr Pink character. The fact that Buscemi is playing a waiter in Pulp Fiction is very ironic, considering that his Reservoir Dogs character, Mr. Pink, explains in the opening scene why he doesn't believe in tipping waiters. Even more so when Vincent says that "Buddy Holly doesn't seem to be much of a waiter". This could mean that this is Mr. Pink before the Reservoir Dogs robbery and as he wasn't a good waiter, he was never tipped well, so he doesn't tip other waiters as a form of revenge or jealousy.
On the radio in Reservoir Dogs, a commercial for Jack Rabbit Slim's can be heard in a car.
Set in early-1990s Los Angeles, Pulp Fiction nevertheless lends itself a timeless quality by drawing on themes from various eras of the 20th century:
- Mia Wallace looks something like a silent film character from the 1920s or earlier—note her bobbed hair, which some have claimed is a reference to silent film star Louise Brooks. However, some of her scenes and the look of her character directly reference Anna Karina's character in Jean-Luc Godard's film My Life to Live (1962).
- Jack Rabbit Slim's is a nod to the 1950s.
- The Wolf drives an Acura NSX, which first debuted in 1991.
- Both World Wars and the Vietnam War are referenced.
- Marsellus Wallace makes reference to Indochina.
- The sign outside Butch Coolidge's fight ("Wilson vs. Coolidge") is a play on the names of former U.S. presidents Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge.
- The "Wilson vs. Coolidge" sign says that the bout takes place on Thursday, July 16th. The most logical time for the events of the film, then, is July, 1992 (the two other dates closest to the year of filming are 1987 and 1988). 1992 also fits with Butch's being a young boy in the early 1970s.
- During the taxi ride away from the fight, the background is a black & white rear projection, as was used in films before bluescreen and front projection became popular in the 1970s.
- Mia Wallace has an antiquated reel to reel tape player and a record player.
- Vincent Vega makes a call to Lance from a cellular phone.
- The TV show the young Butch watches is Clutch Cargo, from the 1950s.
- Vincent's car is a classic 1964 Chevrolet Malibu.
- The young man shot in the apartment while lying in the couch is referred to as "Flock of Seagulls" due to his distinctive haircut, in reference to the 1980's pop band.
Pulp Fiction features many direct references to other films. Tarantino (a former video store clerk) is well-known for having watched nearly every movie in the store before going off to make his first mainstream film, Reservoir Dogs. The influence of this broad viewing remains prominent in Pulp Fiction.
- The passage from the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel 25:17 was first read in the 1967 film Karate Kiba.
- Don Siegel's The Killers (1964) concerned two wise-cracking hitmen dressed in tailored black suits.
- A similar dance sequence took place in Jean-Luc Godard's Bande à part (in another ode, Tarantino eventually named his production company A Band Apart).
- The line "with a pair of pliers and a blow-torch" was originally used in the 1973 film Charley Varrick.
- Quentin Tarantino's personal life problems was his inspiration for Jules' self-reflection
- As noted above Kiss Me Deadly and Repo Man both feature a case/container opening with nothing seen but a bright light.
- The 1978 film American Boy by Martin Scorsese features Steven Prince telling the story of a time when he had to inject his friend with adrenaline. He marked his friend's heart with a red magic marker, used a long-needled syringe, and injected the dosage directly into his friend's heart, after which he immediately became conscious again.
- The animated 1957 film Three Little Bops features the drawing of an animated square in mid-air. So does an episode of The Flintstones.
- The exterior shot of Jack Rabbit Slim's is a reference to the 1973 film American Graffiti.
- The dance sequence in Jack Rabbit Slim's uses the same dance moves and camera sweeps as the dance sequence in Federico Fellini's 8½.
- During the apartment scene after Jules kills Brett, the gunshot holes in the wall behind Jules and Vincent are visible before the fourth guy comes out of the bathroom shooting his magnum.
- Pulp Fiction was originally titled Black Mask.
- Opening titles music: "Misirlou", a traditional Greek song by John Rubanis, performed by Dick Dale and The Del-Tones. The song was re-recorded in the 1980s by Greek garage-rock band "The Last Drive", as well as a hip-hop version by the Black Eyed Peas titled "Pump It".
- During the opening titles, just as the title for music supervisor Karyn Rachtman flashes, we hear a radio dial being tuned to another station, featuring "Jungle Boogie" by Kool & the Gang. Following the opening titles, you can continue to hear the song in the background, playing on the car radio.
- "The Gold Watch" sequence was heavily based on a script entitled Pandemonium Reigns, which Tarantino purchased off his friend Roger Avary.
- Out of the $8 million it cost to make the movie, $5 million went to the cast.
- Mia Wallace's suit reappears in two of Tarantino later flicks, Jackie Brown and Kill Bill, Volume 2.
- When Butch is in the car listening to "Flowers on the Wall", the line "It's good to see you..." is sung when Butch and Marsellus spot each other.
- In a deleted scene, we discover that Vincent may or may not be a cousin of singer Suzanne Vega. During a conversation, Mia asks if they're related; he replies that his cousin's name is Suzanne Vega, but if she's a famous folk singer, he hasn't heard anything about it.
- Chronologically, the last lines of the movie are spoken by Butch Coolidge immediately before riding out of L.A. on a stolen chopper: "Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead."
- In Die Hard with a Vengeance, Bruce Willis says "smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo", repeating a line from "Flowers on the Wall" which he sings in the car after retrieving his watch (from a kangaroo, no less).
- When Butch decides to go back and help Marsellus, he passes a wall with Tennessee license plates. Butch previously mentions on the phone with his brother that he is from Tennessee and is planning to return. He remembers his father's ordeal in Vietnam and how men are supposed to help each other in tough situations.
- The majority of clocks in the movie are set to 4:20, specifically in the pawnshop. It is a widely acknowledged misconception that all of the clocks are set to this time.
- Every time Vincent Vega goes to the bathroom, something bad happens. In rough chronological order:
- Vincent gets Jimmie's towel bloody while washing his hands.
- In the diner, Pumpkin and Honeybunny initiate their robbery.
- At Mia Wallace's house, Mia has a near-fatal overdose by snorting heroin (which she believed was cocaine because it was in a baggie).
- At Butch's apartment, Vincent is ultimately killed by Butch.
- One of the film's producers was Danny DeVito. In DeVito's film Twins, the main characters' names are Vincent and Julius.
- The characters of Pumpkin, Honey Bunny, and Winston Wolfe were written specifically for Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, and Harvey Keitel, respectively.
- As the sole example of "real" pulp fiction in Quentin Tarantino's film Pulp Fiction, the character of Vincent Vega (John Travolta) is seen in several scenes reading the first Modesty Blaise novel while sitting on the toilet. The edition Vincent reads has a mock-up cover that Tarantino had his prop department make, based upon the cover of an early edition of the novel.
- Samuel L. Jackson has a cameo role in Kill Bill as Rufus, an organist in the El Paso Chapel. Jackson's character was also rumored to be Jules, because of that character's desire to "walk the earth".
- The collector's edition DVD (region 1) comes with a printed menu for "Jack Rabbit Slim's," similar to the one read by Mia and Vincent. While "Vanilla Coke" and "$5 Shake" (listed as "Five Dollar Milk Shake") are on the menu, the entree items "Durwood Kirby Burger" (ordered by Mia) and "Douglas Sirk Steak" (ordered by Vincent) are absent.
- Red Apple, the cigarettes Butch buys inside Marsellus's bar, is also advertised in Tokyo's airport in Kill Bill, Volume 1 and in LA's airport in the beginning sequence of "Jackie Brown". They also appear in Four Rooms.
- All of Tarantino's characters smoke the brand Red Apple. This is a fictional brand that Tarantino invented to avoid product placement.
- In the opening scene, when Jules and Vincent are walking to Brett's apartment, they pass an apartment with loud music. The song is The Brothers Johnson's "Strawberry Letter 23". In Jackie Brown, this is the song Ordell (Jackson) plays when he kills Beaumont (Chris Tucker).
- In The Simpsons episode 22 Short Films About Springfield, the carpool dialogue about the little differences between America and Europe is spoofed. Lou is talking about visiting a McDonalds, and compares the Krusty Burger with cheese to the Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Also, Misirlou is heard playing in the background on the jukebox in the Krusty Burger.
- Adult Swim's "The Boondocks" parodied much of the movie in one episode.
- Big Kahuna Burger is Quentin's made up fast food restaurant, it features in the Pulp Fiction apartment scene, From Dusk Till Dawn and in Reservoir Dogs, when Michael Madsen walks in drinking a soda.
- The Animaniacs comic book parodied the movie in its Jan 1996 issue. The cover is a spot-on mockup of the movie poster. (hot links not allowed, copy/paste http://comics.toonzone.net/covers/anim/anim09.jpg to view)
- The 2006 film Hostel includes numerous references to Pulp Fiction, specifically from scenes in "The Gold Watch". These include the film playing on TV in the background at the hostel, the main character Paxton being tied up and ball-gagged, Paxton returning underground to save a fellow victim in an act of redemption, a character screaming "I'm going medieval on her ass!" during a torture scene, and Paxton running over his captors in a car after stopping at a traffic light. Tarantino is listed as executive producer on the film, but also has been quoted as having worked on the script with writer-director Eli Roth.
- When the film was initially released in the United Arab Emirates, local distributers thought they'd received a "mixed-up" copy of the film, so they recut the entire film, placing it in chronological order.
- The cereal that Lance is eating when Vincent comes to his house with Mia is called Fruit Brute and it was discontinued in 1983. Quentin Tarantino tries to get the same cereal box in each movie he does, and has shown up in Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill.
- During the second chapter, while Butch, Vincent, and Jules are at the bar, the same part of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" is continuously played.
- In the videogame Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, when CJ is on the phone with The Truth discussing illegal narcotics, The Truth become spooked and shouts "I don't know you. Prank call, prank call!". This is an homage to the scene in Pulp Fiction when Vincent calls drug dealer Lance to tell him about Mia's overdose, and an upset Lance ends the conversation with, "Are you calling me on a cellular phone? I don't know you. Prank caller, prank caller!"
- Also in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is an option that allows CJ to don a "Gimp Suit," a reference to the oddly clad captive in the store basement in "The Gold Watch."
- In the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, there are weapon cheats divided into three levels. For each level, the first weapon is a baseball bat, a sword, or a small chainsaw. A hammer can also be substituted. This may be a reference to the scene in the pawnshop when Butch considers using a hammer, bat, sword (katana), or chainsaw after deciding to rescue Marsellus from the rapists.
- In the first scene of the movie, when Honey Bunny and Pumpkin jump up to begin the robbery, Honey Bunny shouts "Any of you fucking pricks move, I'm gonna execute every motherfucking last one of you!" Later, when we see Jules in the diner and Honey Bunny and Pumpkin begin the robbery, Honey Bunny shouts "Any of you fucking pricks move, I'm gonna execute every last one of you motherfuckers!" Her words are not the same, despite it depicting the same scene. This was purportedly done by design to illustrate the different viewpoints.
- In the flashback to Butch's childhood, young Butch watches a TV show featuring static cartoon images with superimposed moving human lips. The show is Clutch Cargo, perhaps the best-known of the programs and commercials that used this "Syncro-Vox" technique.
- The film's non-chronological editing sometimes leads small cinemas with poorly marked or disorganized film reels to show the film even more out of order than Tarantino intended. The only way audience members can know a misordered film was shown incorrectly is if they have seen it before.
- When Butch steals Zed's motorcycle there is a closeup of the keys, Zed has a keychain that is simply the letter "Z" in British English the word for the letter "Z" is Zed, Tarantino wrote the film while living in The Netherlands where English is spoken the "British" way, it could be assumed that he gained this knowledge not long before he wrote the scene. Alternately, Butch could have simply assumed that the letter "Z" was merely Zed's initial and concluded from that that the keys were his.
- A deleted scene in Resevoir Dogs reveals that Nice Guy Eddie prepared for Bonnie to care for Mr. Orange and even refers to the bad situation as "The Bonnie Situation"
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