20 Surprising Facts About Pulp Fiction

Miramax
Miramax

On October 14, 1994, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction was released in theaters in America and a new Hollywood auteur was born. In addition to teaching Americans what a Quarter Pounder with Cheese is called in Europe, the film reignited the career of John Travolta (who received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his work) and showed audiences a different side of Bruce Willis. In honor of the film's anniversary, here are 20 things you might not have known about Pulp Fiction.

1. THE FILM WAS RELEASED IN SOUTH KOREA, JAPAN, AND EVEN SLOVAKIA BEFORE IT ARRIVED IN AMERICA.

Tarantino’s film first played the Cannes Film Festival in May 1994. It was shown at other festivals around the world, from Munich to Locarno, before hitting American shores on September 23, 1994, at the New York Film Festival. The film was released in South Korea, Japan, and Slovakia before it officially opened in the U.S. on October 14, 1994. The feature rolled out across Asia and Europe throughout 1994 and 1995.

2. HONEY BUNNY WAS NAMED AFTER AN ACTUAL RABBIT.

Honey Bunny belonged to Linda Chen, who typed up Tarantino's handwritten script for Pulp Fiction. In lieu of payment, she asked Tarantino to watch her rabbit when she went on location; Tarantino wouldn't do it, and when the rabbit later died, he named Amanda Plummer's character after Chen's pet.

3. YOU CAN WATCH THE FILM CHRONOLOGICALLY ... KIND OF.

The narrative structure of the film plays out of sequence, but it’s easy enough to break it down into seven distinct sections (a prologue, an epilogue, two preludes, and three large segments) that can then be re-ordered into a chronological narrative (Hint: The first prelude, to the “Gold Watch” section, plays first. If that doesn’t help, here’s an infographic).

4. THE FILM CONTAINS 265 “F WORDS.”

Even that hefty number isn’t Tarantino’s highest (1992’s Reservoir Dogs used it 269 times). Still, the film was the big “f word” winner of 1994, as no other film released that year even came close to that amount of profanity.

5. VINCENT VEGA’S 1964 CHEVELLE MALIBU WAS STOLEN AFTER THE SHOOT.

John Travolta’s character in the film had a sweet ride—which, in real life, belonged to Tarantino—and it was such a hot rod that it was stolen soon after the film’s release. It wasn’t found for nearly two decades, when two cops happened on a pair of kids stripping an older car. After running the Vehicle Identification Number, they found it shared the number with a car in Oakland, which turned out to be Tarantino’s car.

6. THE MOVIE COST ONLY $8.5 MILLION TO MAKE.

Five million went to the actors’ salaries. It made that all back in its first week at the U.S. box office (the film pulled in $9.3 million the first weekend of release).

7. THE FILM WAS THE THIRD BIGGEST R-RATED EARNER OF 1994.

The film lost out on the title to True Lies ($146.2 million) and Speed ($121.2 million). The film’s earnings were strong enough to place it in the overall top 10 for the year, though 1994 was dominated by Forrest Gump, which made $329.6 million that year.

8. EVEN THOUGH THE FILM MADE OVER $100 MILLION, IT TOOK A LONG TIME TO GET THERE.

Even though Tarantino’s film ended up being a tremendous hit—especially considering that slim budget—it took some time to get there. The film was in release for 178 days before it finally pulled in 100 million domestic dollars. A little comparison? It took Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 only two days.

9. VINCENT VEGA WAS WRITTEN FOR MICHAEL MADSEN ...

Tarantino specifically wrote a number of roles in the film for chosen actors (including Samuel L. Jackson, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, and Amanda Plummer), but nothing compared to his dedication to having Michael Madsen play Vince. Madsen, who knew of Tarantino’s plans and said he wanted to do the part, dropped out two weeks before the script was finished to star in Wyatt Earp.

10. ... WHICH COULD HAVE MADE HIM MR. BLONDE’S TWIN.

Tarantino has a long tradition of connecting characters in his various films—basically, the filmmaker is working with a number of sprawling family trees, and it’s always a treat to see how characters intersect—which would have made Madsen’s casting of Vince come with a surprising twist: it might have made him Mr. Blonde’s (Madsen’s character from Reservoir Dogs) twin, as it’s long been known that Vince and Blonde are brothers.

11. IT INSPIRED TOP GEAR’S STIG.

The mysterious, anonymous Stig was inspired by the mysterious, anonymous Gimp. The Gimp was even the original name for the Stig, until they couldn’t find a racing driver willing to use that name.

12. BUTCH WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A LOT YOUNGER.

Tarantino wrote the part as a young boxer, with Matt Dillon specifically in mind for the role, but when the actor took too much time considering the part, it was tweaked slightly to accommodate Bruce Willis (who was a little ticked that he wasn’t asked to play Vincent).

13. TARANTINO LOVES VINTAGE BOARD GAMES, AND IT SHOWS.

The filmmaker is an avid board game collector, which is why the film features Operation and The Game of Life. Tarantino convinced Travolta to come on board with an all-day Welcome Back, Kotter, Grease, and Saturday Night Fever board game marathon.

14. VINCENT’S PREFERRED READING MATERIAL IS REAL.

Vince loves reading pulp fiction books during his, ahem, private time, including Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise, a real pulp fiction novel based on O’Donnell’s '60s comic strip. Tarantino has long expressed interest in bringing that tale to the big screen, including giving his official license to the 2003 film (Quentin Tarantino Presents) My Name is Modesty.

15. DESPITE TARANTINO’S LOVE FOR UMA THURMAN, SHE WASN’T HIS FIRST PICK.

Other possible Mias? Isabella Rossellini, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Meg Ryan, Alfre Woodard, Halle Berry, Daryl Hannah, Rosanna Arquette, Joan Cusack, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Tarantino’s original favorite was supposedly Pfeiffer.

16. THE ORIGINAL POSTER CAN FETCH YOU SEVERAL HUNDRED DOLLARS.

The first poster had Thurman smoking from a box of Lucky Strike cigarettes—but Miramax hadn’t licensed usage rights from Lucky Strikes, who threatened to sue. Rather than fight it, Miramax had the posters returned. Those that survived can now command big money.

17. JULES MAY HAVE BEEN WRITTEN FOR SAMUEL L. JACKSON, BUT HE ALMOST LOST THE PART.

Tarantino very much had Jackson in mind for the role of Jules, but when he auditioned Paul Calderon, he was so struck by the performance that he very nearly hired him. Jackson, desperate to get “his” role back, flew to Los Angeles and auditioned for Tarantino again.

18. CAPTAIN KOONS MIGHT HAVE A FAMOUS RELATIVE.

Well, famous in the Tarantino universe, anyway: It’s widely believed that Christopher Walken’s Captain Koons is a descendent of Django Unchained character Crazy Craig Koons, who is only mentioned by name in a Wanted poster.

19. ROBERT RODRIGUEZ DIRECTED PARTS OF THE FILM.

When Tarantino is on screen as Jimmie, someone else had to be behind the camera—and that someone was Robert Rodriguez. The pair later teamed up for a number of other projects, including From Dusk Till Dawn and Grindhouse.

20. TRAVOLTA DIDN’T REALLY INJECT THURMAN IN THAT SCENE.

The infamous scene in which Mia is stabbed with a very necessary adrenaline shot was stressful enough, so Tarantino took off some of the pressure: the needle was inserted, and then Travolta pulled it out. The scene was reversed in post-production so it looks as if Vincent Vega really is plunging that syringe into her. Movie magic!

Additional Sources: Short List; Box Office Mojo (1, 2)

This article originally ran in 2015.

The Ark From Raiders of the Lost Ark Just Showed Up on Antiques Roadshow

John Rhys-Davies and Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
John Rhys-Davies and Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
Lucasfilm, Ltd.

For any memorabilia collector looking to mimic Indiana Jones’ search for the Ark of the Covenant in 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, they’re largely out of luck. The screen-used ark in the movie, which was said to contain the Ten Commandments and was pursued by both Indy and Nazis in the film, is safe and sound in storage at Skywalker Ranch.

But someone has a prototype, and it just showed up on the PBS series Antiques Roadshow.

A segment filmed at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California, saw a man arrive with what he claims is an early version of the ark prop that was brought home by his father, a pyrotechnician who worked at Industrial Light and Magic, the George Lucas company that did the effects for Raiders of the Lost Ark. The prop, which was made primarily of glued-together picture frames, was used to house the family blankets rather than any religious iconography.

Appraiser James Supp believes the prototype could sell for anywhere between $80,000 to $120,000, though he didn’t rule out a sale price of $250,000 at auction.

Indiana Jones collectors have previously spared little expense in chasing memorabilia from the franchise. One of the many fedoras worn by Harrison Ford sold for $425,000 in 2018. A whip used by Ford in the first three films sold for $35,000 in 1999.

Ford, 77, is still involved in a fifth Indiana Jones film set for release in 2021, though Steven Spielberg is no longer directing it. Ford vs. Ferrari director James Mangold is reportedly in discussions to take his place.

[h/t MovieWeb]

Think You’ve Got What It Takes to Be the Next Jeopardy! GOAT? You Can Now Take the Test Whenever You Want

You might want to brush up on colorful terms before taking the Jeopardy! Anytime Test.
You might want to brush up on colorful terms before taking the Jeopardy! Anytime Test.
Jeopardy!, YouTube

Up until now, qualifying to compete on Jeopardy! wasn’t just about acing the entrance exam—it was also about being available to take the test in the first place, since Jeopardy! usually only offers it at specific times once or twice a year. Earlier this month, however, the classic trivia game show released the Jeopardy! Anytime Test, a version you can take whenever it fits your schedule.

The format hasn’t changed at all; you still have 15 seconds to answer each of the 50 questions, and your answers should not be typed in question form. Although you can complete the test at any time, you can’t complete it multiple times in a short period—just like the original test, you’re only allowed to take an Anytime Test once a year. Having said that, if you took the regular test when it was available in January, you are eligible to submit the Anytime Test, too. According to the website, Jeopardy! will use whichever score is higher.

In other words, rather than replacing the regularly scheduled tests, the Jeopardy! creators are giving you one extra chance to qualify per year. This round of the Anytime Test closes in late April 2020, and they’ll presumably release another one sometime soon after that for anyone who didn’t catch the first round.

If you begin the Anytime Test and aren’t able to finish it, your answers won’t be saved, but you will be able to start fresh later with a new set of questions. You should probably try to avoid letting that happen more than once—Jeopardy! warns that participants “are only allowed a limited number of attempts,” yet doesn’t specify what that number is.

For those of you who would like a little practice before you try your hand at the test, you can study nearly 400,000 past Jeopardy! clues in the J! Archive.

For everyone else, register for the Anytime Test here.

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