2. The soundtrack
What other soundtrack could seamlessly pull Kool & the Gang together with The Statler Brothers? Along with the pitch-perfect surf guitar of Dick Dale & His Del-Tones, The Tornadoes, and The Lively Ones, favorites here are “Jungle Boogie” and “Son of a Preacher Man.” But I really love the Urge Overkill cover of Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon.”
3. The casting
So Michael Madsen was supposed to be Vincent Vega. Matt Dillon was supposed to be Butch the boxer. And Laurence Fishburne was originally pegged for Jules Winnfield. And yet everything in the casting fell into place just as it should have. The big film moment for Samuel L. Jackson before this movie was his fast-food robbery in Coming to America, and he stole every scene in Pulp Fiction. Christopher Walken had one monologue about putting a watch where the sun don’t shine and it was great. Ving Rhames was fantastic (“you stay gone, or you be gone”) as the seemingly indomitable Marsellus Wallace who got felled because he didn’t send a lackey to fetch a dozen donuts and coffee.
4. The Wolf
Some may remember Harvey Keitel’s character in Point of No Return and its similarity to the Pulp Fiction character: In that movie, he was The Cleaner, called in to mop up the goofs of assassins and then rub them out. That involved unceremoniously dumping bodies in a hot tub and pouring hydrochloric acid over them. So while the cleanup premise may have been the same, the finesse of the characters was very different. The Wolf is someone you want to come in and clean up any mess in your life, be it a bad pizza delivery or puppy accident on the carpet. When we first meet The Wolf, bright and early in the morning, he’s still GQ’d up at a swank hotel party that could teach the Secret Service a thing or two. The Cleaner would have knocked off Jimmy for being a witness to the crime and to his shadowy identity; The Wolf handsomely compensates Jimmy for donating his wedding-gift bedding to the Marvin cleanup cause.
The Wolf is like the Yoda of Pulp Fiction — all wise and commanding respect. Plus, we’re in awe of his seemingly magical ability to get through San Fernando Valley traffic as quickly as he does. “It’s 30 minutes away. I’ll be there in 10.”