Filmsite Movie Review 100 Greatest Films
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Pages: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
Plot Synopsis (continued)


Late in the afternoon, in his own near-empty downtown bar/club, bald African-American crime-boss Marsellus Wallace speaks to 26 year-old prizefighting boxer Butch (Bruce Willis) on taking a dive in the 5th round of his next match. Butch accepts an envelope stuffed with wrapped bills, after admitting he is Marsellus' dependent "nigger" and repeating: "In the fifth, my ass goes down."

Marsellus' two hitmen arrive, dressed in gaudy T-shirts, baseball caps, and shorts. Their uncool attire is commented upon by barman English Bob/Paul (Paul Calderon): "Goddamn nigger, what's up with them clothes?" They don't want to talk about what has happened to their usually spiffy outfits. [Vincent wears a UC Santa Cruz banana slug mascot T-shirt - indicative of his slothful, non-athletic, slug-like character.] The bartender knows that Vincent will be taking out Marsellus' wife Mia (Uma Thurman) the next day. When "palooka" Butch orders cigarettes at the bar, he and an obnoxious-sounding Vincent cross paths. They are about to confront each other when the hitman is called over by Marsellus.

In the next scene set in the kitchen of long-haired, drug-dealing Lance's (Eric Stoltz) house, his ring-bearing wife Jody (Rosanna Arquette), wearing a Flintstones T-shirt, speaks about her fetish: "It's as if it turns every part of your body into the tip of a penis" as she recommends to girlfriend Trudi (Bronagh Gallagher) a great book on body-piercing. Jody brags about 18 needle-made piercings all over her body (with the usual lip, ear, nose, and eyebrow rings), including one through her left nipple and clit. The stud in her tongue is a "sex thing, helps fellatio." Vincent is there to score the most expensive brand of heroin ("500 a gram") from Lance, described as "a f--kin' madman," and he buys three grams. After the purchase, Vincent complains about how his 1964 cherry-red Chevy Malibu convertible has been defaced by keying. It has been in storage for three years, and was out for only five days before the paintwork was maliciously scratched ("What's more chicken-s--t than f--kin' with a man's automobile?"). Vincent is politely granted permission to shoot up in Lance's bathroom. Close-ups follow of the cooking of the heroin on a spoon, and shooting up with a syringe and plunger.

Vincent drives up to Marsellus' house, to escort his drug-addicted, dippy black-wigged wife Mia for a "date." The home is under surveillance with a high-tech security network of cameras and intercoms. Mia's note on the door invites him in - it instructs him to make a drink while she is dressing. [Mia's hairstyle resembles that of actress Anna Karina in several Jean-Luc Godard films, including Band of Outsiders (1964, Fr.).] As he waits, has a drink in the living room, and listens to her stereo phonograph playing Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man," Vincent is addressed through an intercom system and watched through a bank of video monitors. She snorts a few lines of cocaine in her dressing room before she says: "Let's go."

They drive to Jack Rabbit Slim's, a 50s theme restaurant, where she tells him: "An Elvis man should love it." She draws a square box and advises him not to be square [taken from the cartoon Three Little Bops (1957)]. As the two walk in, the camera swirls around them - taking their perspective as they view the intense atmosphere, decorated with posters and lookalike characters. It is nostalgically plastered with posters from 50's B-movie exploitation films from producer Roger Corman and AIP (Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), Dragstrip Girl (1957), Motorcycle Gang (1957), Rock All Night (1957), Sorority Girl (1957), Attack of the 50-Foot Woman (1958), Daddy-O (1958), High School Confidential (1958), Something for the Girls (1958), Machine-Gun Kelly (1958), Road Racers (1959), and The Young Racers (1963)) and other kitschy-trashy artifacts. The MC is lookalike variety show host Ed Sullivan (Jerome Patrick Hoban), and performing on stage is a Ricky Nelson-impersonating singer (Gary Shorelle). Waiters are dressed up as stars: Marilyn Monroe (Susan Griffiths), James Dean (Eric Clark), and Mamie Van Doren (Lorelei Leslie), and there is a bell-hop red costumed midget (Michael Gilden) paging Phillip Morris. They seat themselves in a 50's Chrysler car-body table. Vincent describes it as "a wax museum with a pulse." Waiter Buddy Holly (Steve Buscemi) takes Vincent's order for a Douglas Sirk (a famed melodramatic director) steak which comes: "Burnt to a crisp or bloody as hell." Mia orders a Durwood Kirby burger (cooked "bloody") and a $5 dollar shake (with a menu choice of either Martin and Lewis, or Amos and Andy shakes, she chooses the former).

After he rolls a cigarette for her, Mia speaks about her failed experience (her "fifteen minues" of fame) as an actress in a TV pilot show, "Fox Force Five" - about a team of five female secret agents each with a special skill (hers is knives). Vincent samples some of her "Martin and Lewis" $5 dollar shake. Their conversation is slightly restrained and polite, with some "uncomfortable silences" as they get to know each other. However, she thinks that their quiet time is a good sign that she has found "somebody really special - when you can just shut the f--k up for a minute and comfortably share silence." She excuses herself to go to the bathroom, to "powder my nose" - i.e., to snort more cocaine. When she returns and their order is served, he finally gathers the courage (with her prodding) to ask her about Antwone, who was allegedly thrown out of a four-story window by Marsellus after she received a foot massage from him. She denies his account of the story, and accuses his buddies of accusatory gossip: "When you little scamps get together, you're worse than a sewing circle!"

The Ed Sullivan impersonator announces the Jack Rabbit Slim's Twist contest to win a trophy, requiring dancing on a big stage dance floor - it looks like a speedometer (an extension of the racing car motif). When Vincent refuses Mia's request: "I wanna dance," she pulls rank on him: "I do believe Marsellus, my husband, your boss, told you to take me out and do whatever I wanted. Now, I want to dance. I want to win. I want that trophy. So dance good." As the contest's first contestants, they dance (without shoes) to Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell." Their dance moves include horizontal arm movements (and V-signs) across their faces - a recreation of the Batusi (a dance invented for the mid-60s Batman TV series).

Afterwards with the winning trophy in hand, they elatedly return to the Wallace home. She proposes "drinks, music," as he says: "I'm gonna take a piss." To the tune of Urge Overkill's version of Neil Diamond's "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" playing on a reel-to-reel tape player, Mia dances in the living room before flopping onto the couch. While he is in the bathroom, Vincent lectures to himself with a pep talk about being loyal to his boss and not messing around with Mia - by excusing himself in a few minutes. Meanwhile, she discovers his stash of white powdered heroin in a plastic baggie in his coat pocket which she is wearing. Mistaking it for cocaine, she cuts it up into big lines on her glass coffee table, snorts a line, and immediately overdoses. She moans, her nose becomes bloody, she vomits, and passes out. It is the start of the film's infamous heroin overdose sequence. When Vincent finds her with puke and blood on her face and in an open-eyed, near-death coma, he cries out: "Oh, f--k me!"

Vincent hurriedly drags her to his car, and drives her over to Lance's house for help, as he entreats: "Don't f--kin' die on me, Mia!" When Vincent phones Lance, his friend is eating Brute cereal and watching "Brideless Groom" (1947), a b/w Three Stooges episode. Lance refuses to help Vincent with his OD'd "f--ked up pooh-bah." He suggests instead that he take her to a hospital, and then call a lawyer. When Lance hangs up, he claims that Vincent's cellphone call is from a "prank caller" to avoid getting into trouble. Vincent's car skids and crashes into the side of the house in Lance's domestic front yard. Once he arrives - at about 1:30 in the morning - Lance yells at Vincent: "You are not bringing this f--ked up bitch into my house." Vincent convincingly describes the emergency: "If she croaks on me, I am a f--king grease spot," and that they are both going to be in trouble with Marsellus if she dies (without Lance helping).

Neither Lance nor Vincent know how to deliver an adrenalin shot with a syringe (stashed in their refrigerator), so Lance first searches for his "little black medical book" for instructions. When he can't locate his book, he bluntly improvises and states what needs to be done. They have to open her shirt and locate her heart: "We're giving her a shot in the heart so I guess it's gotta be f--kin' exact." Vincent demands a "big fat magic marker" and draws a red target above Mia's heart, after the two argue over who is going to administer the shot. Lance describes the procedure: "It's gotta be hard enough to get through her breastplate into her heart." [Note: This is a reversal of the typical vampire movie, where a blow to the heart results in death.]

She is revived when Vincent (on the count of three), with a large hypodermic syringe, stabs her directly in the chest "in a stabbing motion," and then pushes down hard on the plunger to administer the adrenaline. [Note: In reality, a dose of adrenalin would not restart her heart.] Her head jolts up from the impact - she immediately wakes up with gasps and coughs like she has been pumped with electricity. The syringe sticks there and protrudes from her heart. Lance asks: "If you're all right, then say something" - and she replies simply: "Something." Jody remarks: "That was f--kin' trippy!"

Vincent drives a groggy and dazed Mia back to her home. They both agree on how to handle the situation: "If Marsellus lived his whole life, he doesn't need to know nothing about this incident." She replies: "I can keep a secret if you can," and they shake hands. He then excuses himself: "I'm gonna go home and have a heart attack." But as he is leaving, she volunteers to tell him the "Fox Force Five" joke that she told in the pilot:

Three tomatoes are walkin' down the street. Papa Tomato, Mama Tomato, and Baby Tomato. Baby Tomato starts laggin' behind, and Papa Tomato gets really angry. Goes back and squishes him - and says, 'catch up' (ketchup).

She departs with "See you around." As she walks inside, he blows her a kiss.

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