Twenty years ago, Quentin Tarantino unleashed his second ever film at a midnight screening at Cannes Film Festival — immediately becoming the talk of the festival and then scooping up the coveted Palme d’Or award. The $8 million film went on to gross over $210 million worldwide, earning Tarantino and his co-writer, Roger Avary, an Oscar in 1995 for their screenplay, while the film itself earned a Best Picture nomination.
It reignited the career of John Travolta, made Uma Thurman a star, and created more iconic images and memorable lines than you could shake a stick at! The film has a non-linear structure, connecting the intersecting story-lines of mobsters, small-time criminals, and a mysterious briefcase. Tarantino famously devoted a large amount of screen time to conversations and monologues that revealed the characters’ senses of humor and perspectives on life. The film’s title refers to the pulp magazines and crime novels popular during the mid-20th century that were known for their graphic violence and punchy dialogue, something Tarantino would be synonymous with as well. The late film critic Roger Ebert described it as “the most influential film of the decade.”
Two decades on (can we really be that old?), it is fair to say that Tarantino forever altered the course of cinema. He proved that independent films could actually make money — a lot of money — and they could also boost flagging reputations of stars that had been practically put out to pasture (Travolta, I’m looking at you), as well as provide great roles for Hollywood idols like Bruce Willis. Other studios hurried to launch their own Sundance-friendly indie divisions to try and take on Miramax, then owned by the towering Weinstein brothers, who subsequently cleaned up the Oscars® and dominated Hollywood for several years. Most importantly, whilst some detractors stetted that Tarantino plundered from every other great film and hadn’t an original idea in his head, the majority realized that his unique passion for film and his ability to create humor among brutal violence, poetic monologues, and slapstick humor was in fact inspiring beyond belief.
Quite simply, there has never been another movie quite like it. Time to dust off the VHS copy again, eh? But while you do, check out the fun facts below that you may not have known about this indie hit!
Vincent Vega’s '64 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu belonged to Tarantino himself and was stolen during production of the movie. It eventually resurfaced in 2013 when a cop noticed two teenagers stripping the car. After arresting them, he discovered the car’s VIN number had been altered and the vehicle was in fact stolen. The owner, who claimed he had spent over $40,000 on the car, was unaware that it was stolen and that its rightful owner was Quentin Tarantino.
Also, one of the movie's unanswered questions has forever been: "Who keyed Vincent Vega's car?" Years after the film's release, Tarantino admitted it was the work of Bruce Willis' character, Butch.
Actor Steve Buscemi makes a cameo at the diner a waiter, Buddy Holly. He asks Mia if she wants her $5 shake, "Martin and Lewis or Amos and Andy?” He was actually asking if she wanted it vanilla- or chocolate-flavored — Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis are white entertainers whereas Amos and Andy are black comedians. Mia went with vanilla …
The movie's most famous scene is arguably the dance one, where Travolta and Thurman do their own version of the twist. Later in the movie, you see Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace walking into the house holding a trophy. We assume that they won the dance competition, but later in the film, a barely audible commercial announces that the trophy has been stolen. So we can deduce that Vince and Mia lost the competition and actually stole the trophy!
Actor Mickey Rourke was given the opportunity to play Butch, but he turned it down to continue his boxing career. Tarantino eventually offered it to Bruce Willis, who previously had wanted to play Vincent.
Director Quentin Tarantino debated whether or not to play the part of Jimmie or Lance. He eventually chose Jimmie because he wanted to be behind the camera during Mia's overdose. The scenes were he plays Jimmie were actually directed by his good friend Robert Rodriguez, (who also directed From Dusk till Dawn). Rodriguez was uncredited for his work.
Jules' famous and Bible passage was made up by Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson ... only the final two lines feature in Ezequiel 25:17. The part about the righteous man and the shepherd are not part of the Biblical passage at all! The only bit that is similar to the actual Ezekiel passage is the end of Jules’ line, “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 quote is one of the most famous lines from the movie, but it was actually taken from an early draft of From Dusk Till Dawn.
The mystery of what's in Marcellus Wallace's briefcase has raged for many years. Some argue it's Elvis' gold suit from True Romance, others the diamonds from Reservoir Dogs. The most popular theory is that it is in fact Marcellus Wallace's soul — which he sold to the devil, which is why he is wearing a plaster on the back of his head, to hide the 666. (In reality the actor Ving Rhames had a small scar that he hated and asked to cover.) Tarantino thought it better to never reveal what was in the case in the hopes that people would speculate and create their own theories. In an interview with Howard Stern in 2003, he simply said of the contents, "It’s whatever the viewer wants it to be."