Pulp Fiction, Revisited (Don’t miss the great video!)
Quentin Tarantino, hugely talented filmmaker and director, has made many iconic films, but Pulp Fiction might just be his most influential. This quirky, darkly comic crime film has won numerous awards, revitalized careers of its actors, and wormed its way into our cultural lexicon.
On a recent cold winter evening, I decided to revisit this 90s classic, and got reminded of why I loved it so much. In honor of it, I’ve put together some of my favorite facts from this movie. Read through it, and watch it again!
Remember what was in the briefcase?
That briefcase. What was even in it? Everyone has a theory – Elvis’s gold suit from True Romance, or Marcellus Wallace’s soul. That far-out theory points to the case’s glow, the band-aid on Marcus’s cheek (where, presumably, his soul would escape from), and the combination on the case – 666 (as he’d sold his soul to the devil).
In an interview with Howard Stern, Tarantino said that the briefcase contained “whatever you want it to.”
What’s up with the bandaid?
Accidential? Or the mark of the devil?
The band-aid was an accident. Many think that it was a deliberate costume decision on the part of the directors; really, Ving Rhames, who plays Marcus, cut himself while shaving.
Who Almost Played Mia?
Maybe You Could be Mia
Many actresses were considered for the part of Mia Wallace – it was originally offered to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who turned it down. Michelle Pfeiffer, Daryl Hannah, Isabella Rossellini, Meg Ryan, Joan Cusack were also in the running until Tarantino decided he needed Uma Thurman to play the part.
She wasn’t enthused by the idea, so Tarantino needed to read her the script over the phone to try to convince her. Of course, she said yes, and we got her amazing portrayal of Mia.
What song was supposed to be played during the Gimp scene?
The Knacks: Not a Fan
The song “My Sharona” by the Knacks was chosen for the background music when Marcellus meets with The Gimp. However, the rights to the film had already been sold to a different film, Reality Bites, had chosen it.
Also, one of the band members was a born-again Christian who objected to the use of the song in a sexual scene.
What was one of the many interesting things about Mia and Marcellus’s relationship?
Ships in the night
Even though Mia and Marcellus are husband and wife, they’re never filmed on speaking together. The most we get is their telephone conversations. They are filmed together on-screen, however.
What was something interesting about the cab driver?
Fascination with Murder
Butch’s cab driver, Esmerelda Villalobos, is played by Angela Jones. She played the same character in a short film called Curdled.
In that film she played a professional crime-scene cleaner who becomes obsessed with death and murder. That helps explain her questions to Butch about what it’s like to kill a man.
What’s with Vince’s constant toilet trips?
Heroin addiction can lead to constipation, which explains Vincents frequent, and lengthy bathroom trips. However, his addiction isn’t the only unfortunate thing about those trips. Every time he comes back, something bad has happened: Mia is overdosing, the diner is being held up, or someone gets shot.
How did Mia and Vincent get themselves a dance trophy?
After Mia and Vincent return from the dancing competition, they are seen holding a trophy, making it seem like they won the competition. However, in a later scene, as Butch is walking to his apartment, you can hear an announcement on the radio saying that a trophy was stolen.
How did they film that crazy needle scene?
The shot where Vincent plunges the syringe with adrenalin into the overdosing Mia was actually filmed backward. John Travolta pulled the needle out, and the film was played backward to look more authentic.
In that scene, you can also see two board games in the background – The Game of Life and Operation.
How did John Travolta get prepared for his role as Vincent?
In order to prepare for his role as Vincent Vega, John Travolta spoke to a heroin addict friend to find out what a heroin rush might feel like.
His friend suggested getting trashed on a bottle of tequila and hanging out in a hot pool, which Travolta happily did. His wife helped him by pouring the shots of tequila and hanging out with him (presumably to make sure he didn’t die).
This movie features a lot of profanity
The f-word is said 265 times during this movie.
What’s strange about what Jules quotes?
Didn’t Do Too Well in Sunday School
Jules famously quotes lines from the Bible before executing people. However, most of the lines are bogus (aside from two, from Ezekiel 25:17: And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee.”.)
The part about the shepherd and the righteous man are actually taken from the movie From Dusk Til Dawn, with Harvey Keitel’s character saying it as he backs away from a pack of vampires. Before that, you could hear those lines in the 1976 Sonny Chiba movie, Karate Kiba.
Ever notice the cereal?
Not the Only Brute Around
Tarantino often stuck boxes of his favorite childhood cereal, Fruit Brute, into his movies. The cereal no longer exists, but you can see it in the scene where Vincent is calling Lance with an overdosed Mia in tow. You can also see it in Reservoir Dogs.
Who almost played Lance?
Gourmet Coffee Guy
Speaking of Lance, director Quentin Tarantino wanted to play that part, but also wanted to direct the overdose scene where Lance helps Vincent administer adrenaline to a passed-out Mia.
He ended up playing Jimmy Dimmick, and we’re kind of glad – seeing Tarantino discuss gourmet coffee is one of our favorite parts of the movie.
What inspired the weapons that Butch chose?
A Nod to Other Films
Tarantino loves putting personal touches in his movies. For example, the weapons Butch uses are all a nod to some of Tarantino’s favorite films – the chainsaw is what Leatherman uses in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the samurai sword is in reference to Kurosawa movies.
What was Mr. Wolf doing in the morning?
Fantastic Mr. Wolf
One of the most epic characters in a movie full of epic characters has to be Mr. Wolf. When he gets the phone call, he is in a room, well-dressed, presumably early in the morning. Some fans think he was at an auction, others suggest it was an underground casino.
Whatever he was doing, we’re glad that Tarantino created his character (in fact, he wrote the part with Harvey Keitel in mind.)
Who was named “Coffee Shop” in the end credits, and why?
Just a Coffee Shop
In one of the funnier bits of trivia, at the end of the movie in the credits, the Coffee Shop Manager is credited as just “Coffee shop.” In the movie, when Tim Roth puts the gun to his head and says, “Are you gonna be a hero?” the manager replies, terrified, “No, I’m just a coffee shop-” and gets interrupted as Roth starts yelling again. Hence, his name is just “Coffee Shop.”
How much did the cast get paid?
Pulp Fiction: Meagre Movie Salary
The film was made on a meagre $8 million dollars. In order to figure out how to pay actors, it was decided that it was simplest to just pay everyone the same amount weekly – $20,000.
John Travolta worked for 7 weeks, meaning he got “only” $140,000. The film ended up grossing about $280 million, however, and actors got royalties, so everyone did pretty nicely in the end.
What was the story with Marvin?
Marvin Got Murdered
Marvin (played by Phil LaMarr) was actually meant to be shot twice. The original scene had Vincent Vega accidentally discharging his gun, hitting Marvin in the throat, and shooting him in the head as a mercy kill.
They ended up going with one shot, and Phil wasn’t even there – it was a dummy (which seems glaringly obvious when you revisit the scene where they stuff his body in a trunk.)
Ever notice Tarantino’s product placement?
Tarantino isn’t a fan of traditional product placement, opting instead to create his own brands and inserting them into most of his movies. Some examples include Big Kahuna Burgers (Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs), Red Apple cigarettes (seen every time a character in his films smokes a cigarette), Teriyaki Donut (Jackie Brown, among others) and G.O. Juice.
What’s the deal with all the Marvins in Tarantinos universe?
Pulp Fiction: Many Marvins
People named “Marvin” don’t seem to do so well in Tarantino films. In Pulp Fiction, Marvin accidentally gets shot in the face, while in Reservoir Dogs, the cop that Mr. Blonde tortures is named Marvin. Makes you wonder if Tarantino has an enemy named Marvin…
Ever wonder how Samuel L. Jackson ended up with the hair he did in the film?
Samuel L. Jackson’s character Jules had an epic head of hair. Originally, Tarantino wanted him in an afro wig. Someone also picked up a jheri curl wig in addition to a bunch of ‘fros and the look worked perfectly.
Ever notice something funny about the boxers?
On the card advertising Butch’s fight, it also says Coolidge vs Wilson and Vossler vs Martinez. The first one is referring to US presidents Calvin Coolidge and Woodrow Wilson. The other is referring to two of Quentin Tarantino’s friends from when he worked in a video store, Russell Vossler and Jerry Martinez.
Who actually owned the “Bad Motherf***er” wallet?
Pulp Fiction: Tarantinos Personal Stash
The “Bad Motherf***er” wallet is actually Quentin Tarantinos, as is the red convertible that Vincent crashes. During filming, it was stolen and was presumed gone forever until about twenty years later, when police found a group of teenagers stripping the car.
Upon investigation, they realized that it was Tarantino’s car, and returned it to him. No one knows where it was in the interim.
What did politicians have to say about the movie?
Not the Biggest Fan
Pulp Fiction is well loved by many. However, one politician is decidedly not a fan. Bob Dole, 1996 Republican presidential candidate, has criticized the film, accusing it of promoting a romance of heroin. In general, he dislikes the movie industry, saying it peddles “nightmares of depravity.”
Finally, see the movie, in chronological order!
Like many Tarantino films, Pulp Fiction is out of chronological order. Someone took the time to put the movie together in chronological order. Here’s a 5 minute re-make of the most iconic scenes, in order of how they happened. Check it out!
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