In the first scenes of Pulp Fiction, released in 1994 and regarded as a classic of world cinema, and which placed its director Quentin Tarantino firmly on the map, we are introduced to a couple of hit men, Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega who arrive at a dingy L.A. apartment sent by their boss, Marsellus Wallace, tasked with tracking down a mysterious stolen briefcase. In a scene-stealing performance and one of the most iconic moments in the film, Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules finally recites a sermon from the Bible, Ezekiel 25:17, uttering the immortal words, “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 I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you”, before opening fire and exacting revenge on the 3 hapless crooks.
The success of Pulp Fiction saw the resurgence of the career of John Travolta, the swivel-hipped star of Grease and Saturday Night Fever fame, and although not forgotten, it may have been widely believed that his best years were well behind him. However, with his appearance in the movie his name had somehow garnered a certain kudos once again. Indeed, Tarantino was now developing a reputation for resurrecting movie careers. Samuel L. Jackson too had procured minor roles in film up until this point and had now also become a household name in his own right.
Pulp Fiction deliberately harks back to the Film Noir era of the 1950s and 1960s with a story that is interwoven with various characters and plot lines, an excellent dialogue and masterful directorial style that grabs you by the lapels as it twists and turns until its tense and gripping finale.
Other cast members were a welcome addition, such as Harvey Keitel making a cameo appearance as Winston Wolf, a notorious clean up expert, who has since enjoyed a run of TV commercials as his Pulp Fiction alter ego for Direct Line car insurance. Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace, the boss’s wife, also helps to create other iconic moments, in particular a dance sequence with John Travolta, clearly intending to be reminiscent of his dancing past.
Bruce Willis makes an appearance also as Butch Coolidge, an aging boxer paid by Marsellus Wallace played by Ving Rhames, to lose his next fight. With Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette and Christopher Walken also in the fray, they together completed an ensemble cast that added further gravitas to the proceedings.
Quentin Tarantino’s star may have waned somewhat in the intervening years, despite his success with the Kill Bill movies, but Pulp Fiction will likely remain the jewel in the crown of his directorial pursuits for many years to come.