Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, who conceived it with Roger Avary. Starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, Ving Rhames, and Uma Thurman, it tells several stories of crime in Los Angeles, California. The title refers to the pulp magazines and hardboiled crime novels popular during the mid-20th century, known for their graphic violence and punchy dialogue.
Tarantino wrote Pulp Fiction in 1992 and 1993, incorporating scenes that Avary originally wrote for True Romance (1993). Its plot occurs out of chronological order. The film is also self-referential from its opening moments, beginning with a title card that gives two dictionary definitions of "pulp." Considerable screen time is devoted to monologues and casual conversations with eclectic dialogue revealing each character's perspectives on several subjects, and the film features an ironic combination of humor and strong violence. TriStar Pictures reportedly turned down the script as "too demented." Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein was enthralled, however, and the film became the first that Miramax fully financed.
On October 14, 1994, Pulp Fiction went into general release in the United States. As Peter Biskind describes, "It was not platformed, that is, it did not open in a handful of theaters and roll out slowly as word of mouth built, the traditional way of releasing an indie film; it went wide immediately, into 1,100 theaters." In the eyes of some cultural critics, Reservoir Dogs had given Tarantino a reputation for glamorizing violence. Miramax played with the issue in its marketing campaign: "You won't know the facts till you've seen the fiction", went one slogan. Pulp Fiction was the top-grossing film at the US box office its first weekend with a gross of $9,311,882, edging out a Sylvester Stallone vehicle, The Specialist, which was in its second week and playing at more than twice as many theaters. The gross claimed by Miramax was disputed by others. Warner Bros. initially reported an estimated gross of $8.9 million for The Specialist with Bob Weinstein then reporting a gross for Pulp Fiction of $9.1 million, claiming that the film was on another 100 screens that had previously been overlooked. Warners then updated their gross to $9.3 million, claiming they had made a calculation error.Early Monday morning, Miramax reported a gross of $9.3 million with Warners reporting $8.9 million for The Specialist, placing Pulp Fiction first but other industry sources did not believe Miramax's numbers. Variety estimated that Pulp Fiction grossed $8.6 to $9 million for the weekend.
Tarantino has stated that he originally planned "to do a Black Mask movie", referring to the magazine largely responsible for popularizing hardboiled detective fiction. "[I]t kind of went somewhere else". Geoffrey O'Brien sees the result as connected "rather powerfully to a parallel pulp tradition: the tales of terror and the uncanny practiced by such writers as Cornell Woolrich [and] Fredric Brown ... Both dealt heavily in the realm of improbable coincidences and cruel cosmic jokes, a realm that Pulp Fiction makes its own." In particular, O'Brien finds a strong affinity between the intricate plot mechanics and twists of Brown's novels and the recursive, interweaving structure of Pulp Fiction. Philip French describes the film's narrative as a "circular movement or Möbius strip of a kind Resnais and Robbe-Grillet would admire". James Mottram regards crime novelist Elmore Leonard, whose influence Tarantino has acknowledged, as the film's primary literary antecedent. He suggests that Leonard's "rich dialogue" is reflected in Tarantino's "popular-culture-strewn jive"; he also points to the acute, extremely dark sense of humor Leonard applies to the realm of violence as a source of inspiration.
The pivotal moment in which Marsellus crosses the street in front of Butch's car and notices him evokes the scene in which Marion Crane's boss sees her under similar circumstances in Psycho (1960). Marsellus and Butch are soon held captive by Maynard and Zed, "two sadistic honkies straight out of Deliverance" (1972), directed by John Boorman. Zed shares a name with Sean Connery's character in Boorman's follow-up, the science-fiction film Zardoz (1974). When Butch decides to rescue Marsellus, in Glyn White's words, "he finds a trove of items with film-hero resonances". Critics have identified these weapons with a range of possible allusions:
Talking about his generation, one that came of age in the '70s, Tarantino has commented that the "number one thing we all shared wasn't music, that was a Sixties thing. Our culture was television." A random list of the TV programs referenced in Pulp Fiction confirms his observation: Speed Racer, Clutch Cargo, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, The Avengers, The Three Stooges, The Flintstones, I Spy, Green Acres, Kung Fu, Happy Days, and last but not least, Mia's fictional pilot, Fox Force Five.
In the 1980s television series Kage no Gundan (Shadow Warriors), Chiba's character would lecture the villain-of-the-week about how the world must be rid of evil before killing him. A killer delivers a similar biblical rant in Modesty Blaise, the hardback but pulp-style novel Vincent is shown with in two scenes.
In the Brookers' analysis, "Through Vince ... we see the contemporary world as utterly contingent, transformed, disastrously, in the instant you are not looking." Fraiman finds it particularly significant that Vincent is reading Modesty Blaise in two of these instances. She links this fact with the traditional derisive view of women as "the archetypal consumers of pulp":
Willis reads Pulp Fiction in almost precisely the opposite direction, finding "its overarching project as a drive to turn shit into gold. This is one way of describing the project of redeeming and recycling popular culture, especially the popular culture of one's childhood, as is Tarantino's wont as well as his stated aim." Despite that, argues Fraiman, "Pulp Fiction demonstrates ... that even an open pulpophile like Tarantino may continue to feel anxious and emasculated by his preferences."
when i say i like pulp fiction it means i like mia wallace. mia wallace dancing. mia wallace drinking her milkshake. mia wallace coming back to life. mia wallace telling vicent her tomato joke. everything mia wallace does.
"Tarantino's lined up a fine cast to play his assorted snotwads, grimeballs, sleazoids, small-timers, druggies and bulletheads in this 1990s version of a down-and-dirty 1940s pulp fictioner, the kind Dash Hammett and the boys used to crank out," wrote The Hollywood Reporter film critic Duane Byrge in his review, originally published May 23, 1994.
Hello and welcome to Pulp Fiction Coffee House in Kelowna, BC! Espresso drinks, tea, pulp fiction art, books and antiques, all in a groovy retro atmosphere in downtown Kelowna on the corner of Pandosy and Lawrence.
Pulp fiction gets its name from the paper it was printed on. Magazines featuring such stories were typically published using cheap, ragged-edged paper made from wood pulp. These magazines were sometimes called pulps.
The popularity of pulp magazines faded after the 1950s, but their influence is easy to spot in modern media, which is full of pulp fiction elements: gritty crime, bold adventure, far-out sci-fi, gruesome horror, and dashing romance. Today, stories with a lot of these elements are sometimes described as pulpy.
Penny dreadfuls were British illustrated comics or storybooks featuring cheap thrills somewhat similar to those found in pulp fiction. Popular during the mid- and late-1800s, they were inexpensive (hence the name) and featured tales of pirates, murderers, and other violent action.
Pulp fiction magazines were known for their cover art, which often depicted sensational action scenes, usually featuring a scantily clad woman. Discussion of pulp fiction often focuses on its over-the-top elements.
M to P MacGuffin: The briefcase, whose contents are never made clear to the viewer but which is apparently extremely important to Marsellus.
Magic Bullets: One of the major plot points involves the "bad bullets" version of this trope, where a man empties a high-caliber revolver at Jules and Vincent (at almost point-blank range), but completely misses them. After killing him, Jules and Vincent examine the bullet holes in the wall, which the camera cannot see until they step back, suggesting that the bullets should have passed through them. Lampshaded and arguably justified, as Jules points out that it couldn't possibly be anything but divine intervention, and Vincent has no better rebuttal than any other Flat-Earth Atheist. However, the commentary points out that some bullet holes were already in the wall when Vince and Jules went in.
Malt Shop: Jackrabbit Slim's is a retro theme restaurant modeled after a Malt Shop of The '50s. They use Hash House Lingo in the menu. Given that both Vincent and Mia order nonalcoholic drinks, they might not even serve liquor.
Massage of Love: Jules and Vincent talk about how their boss, Marsellus Wallace, threw a guy named Antwan Rockamora off a balcony for giving his wife Mia Wallace a foot massage. Jules believes that Marsellus was a bit overzealous in how he handled the situation, arguing that foot massages don't mean shit, but Vincent, who "has given a million ladies a million foot massages", argues that every one he gave meant something to both the guy and girl involved, that Marsellus knew full well the implications of such a thing, and that "Antwan should have fuckin' better known better."
Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: Vincent spends some time in the bathroom psyching himself up to not give in to the temptation to have sex with Mia Wallace (because she's the wife of his boss), and mentions masturbating to relieve the tension and "get over it" once he gets back home.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The fact that the mysterious contents of the briefcase glow, cause awe in everyone who sees them, and are locked with the combination 666, suggests that there might be something supernatural about it, but it is never confirmed or denied.
The Magic Bullets scene leads to an argument between Jules and Vincent regarding whether or not it was an act of God or pure luck (to be fair, there were bullet holes in the wall directly behind where they were standing, which helps convince Jules). The yellow flashes of light that are placed between cuts during the shooting might link the event to the glowing yellow contents of the briefcase.
Meaningful Background Event: In the first scene, when Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are discussing the merits of robbing liquor stores or restaurants, Vincent can be briefly seen heading for the bathroom, and Jules can be overheard in the background (listen here starting at 3:06).
Flipped at the end of the film, where we see the same scene from Jules and Vincent's point of view, as you can see Pumpkin and Honey Bunny having their discussion in the background. Eventually there's a cutaway shot of Pumpkin shouting "Garcon! Coffee!" to make it obvious.
Meaningful Name: Butch has a discussion regarding the meaning of names with a taxi driver who has some interest in the subject. He claims that for Americans, "our names don't mean shit." Rather a strange thing for a professional boxer named Butch to say.
Memento MacGuffin: The watch, which spent many years up various asses and infected with dysentery in a Vietnamese prison camp."And now, little man, I give the watch... to you."
Messy Pig: Jules gives this as a reason for why, despite not being Jewish, he doesn't eat pork.
Mexican Standoff: At the end of the film, Jules disarms Pumpkin at gunpoint, Honey Bunny trains her gun on Jules, and when Vincent returns from the bathroom, he turns his gun on Honey Bunny and even threatens to shoot Pumpkin. Jules orders him to shut up so he can resolve the situation.
Mirror Monologue: Vincent gives himself a pep talk in front of a bathroom mirror in order to avoid sleeping with Mia.
Mood Whiplash: Captain Koons' speech to young Butch starts off seriously, but then takes an abrupt turn for the absurd halfway through. Yet, somehow, the drama is not completely lost, and Butch's obsession with keeping the watch safe seems completely justified.
Jules and Vincent's rambling conversations concluding with dramatic assassinations.
Moral Disambiguation: The storyline between Butch Coolidge and Marsellus Wallace is initially presented as a conflict between a hardened and unscrupulous prizefighter and a local mobster, with both parties presented as morally flexible. When they are both captured by pawn shop owners Maynard and Zed, the conflict becomes more clear cut in terms of morality, with Zed and Maynard being portrayed as sociopathic sexual predators and sadists, who the comparatively upstanding Butch and Marsellus team up to eliminate.
Mugging the Monster: Two robbers try to hold up a professional hitman. Unusually, the conflict gets resolved more or less peacefully because of benevolence on the hitman's part.
Zed and Maynard kidnapping a crime boss and a pro boxer. It doesn't go well for them.
Multiple Gunshot Death: Both Brett and the fourth member of the group, who tries to avenge him, get gunned down with multiple rounds from Jules and Vince.
Nobody Poops: Averted by Vincent. Three times. Also averted with Jules when he and Vincent deliver the briefcase to Marsellus.
Noodle Incident: Tony Rocky Horror getting thrown off a building by Marsellus Wallace. Rumor is Tony gave Mia a foot massage but Mia writes it off as bullshit and says she doesn't know why Marsellus chucked him either. It's not totally clear whether or not she's telling the truth, however; Vincent still seems slightly dubious.
N-Word Privileges: Averted. The word is peppered throughout the script, hard "R" and soft, said by (and to) white and black characters alike, and no one bats an eye. The most famous is Jimmie (who is married to a black woman), and his query about whether his garage has a sign saying "Dead Nigger Storage". If you're curious, it doesn't.
Odd Couple: What do Butch and Fabienne see in each other? Butch is a crusty American boxer and Fabienne is a childlike and bizarre French girl who doesn't seem to understand much of what he says. He admits that he calls her a "retard," jokes about punching her in the stomach, and spends most of their dialogue yelling at her.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Butch, a faded boxer and "palooka," bets everything, including his life, on winning a boxing match. Not only does he win the bout, he kills his opponent in the process. We see Butch only before and after what must have been one hellacious performance.
Oh, Crap!: The Gimp laughs at Butch trying to break free of his bonds. When Butch does break free, the Gimp's laughter quickly turns to horrified muffled screaming.
We don't see Vincent's face when he comes across Mia in the middle of an O.D. on his "madman" heroin, but you know this is going through his mind. "Oh, fuck me...FUCK ME!"
The look on Vincent's face when he emerges from the bathroom to see Butch pointing a gun at him. Doubly so given that in their earlier meeting, Vincent went out of his way to antagonize Butch.
The moment Butch stops at the light and notices the man crossing in front of him is Marsellus.
In the Imagine Spot in "The Bonnie Situation", this is the look on Jules, Vincent, and Jimmie's faces when Jimmie's wife walks in on them trying to dispose of Marvin's body in the living room.
During the confrontation between Jules, Vincent, Brett, and Roger, Roger looks visibly frightened the entire time. Brett only really starts showing fear after Jules shoots Roger, but judging by his expression before then, he knows he's screwed.
One-Liner, Name... One-Liner: "Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead."
Only a Flesh Wound: By the way Marsellus says what specific time period he's going to get on the ass of the guy that just raped him, you get the impression that the guy will live to face it. Despite the fact that he just shot him in his crotch with a shotgun! However, birdshot or anything smaller than buckshot penetrates quite poorly, so the chance of his injuries being fatal may be small.
Only Known by Their Nickname: The two robbers "Pumpkin" and "Honey Bunny". Honey Bunny's real name is revealed to be Yolanda. Jules calls Pumpkin "Ringo" because of his British accent.
"Butch" seems like an unlikely name for someone, but it's never made clear whether this is his given name or a nickname he's had since early childhood. He goes by nothing else throughout the film.
Onscreen Chapter Titles: The movie is divided into three chapters, each of which is introduced with a title card.
O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Vincent loves his car. After it's keyed, he fantasizes about brutally murdering the perpetrator. After Mia overdoses, however, he crashes his car into Lance's yard to get there a few seconds sooner.
Orbital Shot: The camera circles around Butch when he is in the phone booth calling his agent.
Packaged as Other Medium: The poster for the film, and by extension the cover for its DVD and VHS releases, is designed to look like a worn pulp fiction book (including the 10 price).
Pants-Positive Safety: After ditching their bloodied suits from the Marvin incident, Jules and Vincent are seen carrying their guns in the elastic waistbands of their workout shorts. Justified, as they really have nowhere else to put them.
Pay Evil unto Evil: After Butch frees Marsellus (a crime boss), Marsellus shoots his rapist, Zed, in the groin, and describes his plans to give Zed a long and agonizing death. And he makes sure Zed knows it.
Pedal-to-the-Metal Shot: There's a shot of Esmeralda's bare foot pushing the pedal as she speeds off with Butch.
When Butch steps on the gas to hit Marsellus with his car.
Pilot: Discussed by Jules and Vincent, as they've heard Mia starred in a failed pilot for a show Vincent later learns is called "Fox Force Five."Jules: Well, the way they pick shows is, they make one show, and that show's called a pilot. And they show that one show to the people who pick the shows, and on the strength of that one show, they decide if they want to make more shows. Some get accepted and become TV programs, and some don't, and become nothing. She was in one of the ones that became nothing.
Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Marsellus asks Butch to "step aside" just before blowing his rapist Zed away with a non-fatal shotgun blast to the groin.
The Precious, Precious Car: Discussed when Vincent mentions in passing that his precious Malibu, which he kept in storage for three years while he was in Amsterdam, got keyed after only five days out.
Winston "The Wolf" Wolfe hands out a warning regarding his Acura NSX:Winston Wolfe: I get my car back any differently than I gave it, Monster Joe's gonna be disposin' of two bodies.
Pride: Discussed by Marsell