Scenes That I Love: Winston Wolfe Says Goodbye In Pulp Fiction


Today is Harvey Keitel’s 81st birthday.

Harvey Keitel is one of those actors who has given so many great performances that it’s difficult to pick which one is his best.  He’s almost always great, even when the film sometimes isn’t.  That said, I’ll always have a lot of affection for the character of Winston Wolfe, the cleaner that Keitel played in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

Keitel doesn’t show up until the final third of Pulp Fiction but once he does, he pretty much takes over the entire film.  For me, though, my favorite Winston Wolfe moment comes at the end of his story, when he says goodbye to John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson and essentially reveals himself to be kind of an old-fashioned, almost dorky (if impeccably dressed) guy.

Happy birthday, Harvey Keitel!

Scenes That I Love: Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction


Today is Christopher Walken’s 77th birthday so it seems appropriate to share a Walken scene that I love.  Without further ado, here is the classic gold watch speech from the 1994 film, Pulp Fiction:

Ranking The Films of Quentin Tarantino


Since Today is Quentin Tarantino’s 57th birthday, I figured this would be a good time to rank the ten films that he’s directed so far!

Please note that I have not included things like Natural Born Killers, True Romance, Four Rooms, Sin City, or those episodes of CSI and ER on the list below.  These are just the feature films that Tarantino has directed.

So, without further ado, for worst to best, here are the ten film of Quentin Tarantino:

10) The Hateful Eight (2015)

The Hateful Eight is one of those films that people either seem to love or hate.  I personally think that it’s the one Tarantino film in which QT truly stepped over the line and became a parody of himself.  From the punishing run time to the lengthy “chapters” that went nowhere to the overwritten dialogue that read more like someone trying to write like Tarantino than Tarantino himself, The Hateful Eight is my least favorite of his films.  For me, the final straw was when — after already having forced audiences to endure two and half hours of this film — Tarantino stopped the action completely for a totally unnecessary flashback that apparently only existed so Tarantino could work in a Zoe Bell cameo.

9) Death Proof (2007)

Oh, Death Proof.  I really liked Death Proof the first time that I saw it but whenever I’ve tried to rewatch it, it’s been a struggle to get through it.  Yes, Kurt Russell is great as Stuntman Mike and, unlike her previously mentioned cameo in The Hateful Eight, Zoe Bell is a welcome addition to Death Proof‘s ensemble.  But oh my God, why doesn’t the film just start in Tennessee?  Why do we have to suffer through all of that crap in Austin?

8) Kill Bill: Volume One (2003)

Now, it may seem like I’m ranking the first volume of Kill Bill fairly low on the list but you have to understand that, as far as I’m concerned, Tarantino has only made two bad films.  Kill Bill: Volume One is an exciting thriller and it not only features Uma Thurman at her best but it also has some of the best and most energetic fight scenes of all time.  If Kill Bill: Volume One seems ranked low, it’s just because it has some truly tough competition to deal with.

 

7) Jackie Brown (1997)

The first time I saw Jackie Brown, I thought it was a bit too slow and I guess I didn’t really “get” it.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to better appreciate this surprisingly low-key and rather sad film.  Jackie Brown features Tarantino in the type of contemplative mood that he wouldn’t really return to until making Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

6) Pulp Fiction (1994)

One of the most influential films ever made, Pulp Fiction was not only the first of Tarantino’s first film to be nominated for an Oscar but it was also his first film to truly establish that his filmography takes place in its own separate, pop culture-centered universe.  If there’s anything that’s keeping Pulp Fiction from being listed higher, it’s the painfully self-indulgent taxi cab conversation between Bruce Willis and Angela Jones and Quentin Tarantino’s own terrible cameo as Jimmy, the casually racist homeowner.  That said, this is still one of the most — if not the most — essential film for the 90s.  If you want to understand that decade, you have to watch Pulp Fiction.

5) Django Unchained (2012)

Despite the fact that it features one of Leonardo Di Caprio’s worst performances (I know I’m the only one who thinks that), Django Unchained is still Tarantino at his most provocative and angry.  After decades of Hollywood films that attempts to explain away the history and legacy of slavery or that suggested that racism could easily be overcome, Tarantino and Django stepped up to say, “Fuck that.”  While the film received a lot of attention for its violence, I think it revealed that Tarantino is an artist with a conscience.  When Christoph Waltz speaks against the evils of slavery, it’s obvious that he’s speaking for Tarantino as well.  In much the same fashion of 12 Years A Slave (which would come out a year later), Django Unchained doesn’t flinch away from showing the horrors of slavery.

4) Inglourious Basterds (2009)

With Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino showed how art could be used to fix history’s mistakes.  In reality, many of the leaders of Nazi Germany escaped justice by committing suicide.  In Inglourious Basterds, they get blown away by a group of Jewish soldiers.  The film itself features some of Tarantino’s best set pieces and one of his best casts.  Despite the film’s length, this is also one of the few Tarantino films where there’s not a single scene that you can look at and say, “Well, that could have been cut.”  For once, every minute of the run time is needed to tell the film’s story.  Christoph Waltz became the first actor to win an Oscar for appearing in a Tarantino film.

3) Kill Bill: Volume Two (2004)

The Kill Bill saga concludes in grand fashion in Kill Bill: Volume Two.  For all of the fights and the violence, this film is more about accepting the consequences of your actions.  Uma Thurman and David Carradine give great performances but the heart of the film belongs to poor Michael Madsen, sitting in his trailer and waiting for justice to come and get him.  The scene where Thurman digs herself out of her grave is a justifiable classic and the final confrontation between Carradine and Thurman is Tarantino at his best.

2) Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Tarantino’s debut film is still one of the most exciting and, in it’s way, funniest crime films ever made.  Every line is quotable.  Every performance is perfect.  Every song on the soundtrack is perfectly selected.  Who can forget Harvey Keitel’s incoherent scream of pain as he realizes that he’s been betrayed?  Personally, I just hope Mr. Pink escaped with the diamonds.

 

1) Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)

Tarantino’s latest film is also his best, a love letter to the movies and the actors whose legacies live on in his own films.  For all the criticism that the film took for Margot Robbie’s lack of dialogue, her performance as Sharon Tate is the perfect epitome of everyone’s fantasy of what Hollywood was like in the years before the Manson murders made everyone lock their doors.  Leonardo Di Caprio and Brad Pitt are perfectly cast as Rick and Cliff and the film’s finale may be bloody but, at the same time, it corrected history in much the same way that Inglorious Basterds did.  By the end of the film, Rick Dalton knows that he’ll probably never be as big of a star as he could have been but at least he’s made some new friends.  He’s been accepted, in much the same way that a somewhat dorky former Hollywood video store clerk was eventually accepted by a film industry that, at first, wasn’t sure what to make of him.

Happy birthday, Quentin Tarantino!

Double Your Pulp Pleasure With The Covers Of Two Complete Detective Books!


Running from 1939 to 1953, Two Complete Detective Books promised its readers a “$4.00 value for 25 cents!”  Each issue would feature two complete novels and each issue would also have two cover illustrations, the better to entice readers who wanted to read the best pulp fiction without having to pay full price.

There were 76 issues of Two Complete Detective Books.  The covers below were all done by George Gross:

The covers below have not been officially credited to George Gross but they all look like his work to me.  Officially, these covers were done by an “unknown artist” but I’m about 99% sure that they were probably done by Gross as well:

Pulp Fiction #3: Batman At 80


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Whether you call him the Caped Crusader or the Dark Knight, it’s hard to believe Batman has been in the public eye for eighty years! Making his debut in Detective Comics #27 (cover dated May 1939) in a story titled “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” by co-creators Bill Finger and Bob Kane, Batman has gone from mere comic book crimefighter to king of all media! Not bad for a poor little rich kid from Gotham City!

BATMAN BEGINS 

Artist Bob Kane (1915-1998) had been toiling in the nascent comic book field for three years when DC’s superhero character Superman took off like a rocket. Comic houses were scrambling to compete in this new genre of costumed cavorters, and Kane came up with some sketches of a masked vigilante, basing his design on Lee Falk’s Phantom, Douglas Fairbanks’ ZORRO, and the 1930 horror/mystery THE BAT WHISPERS. Kane asked writer Bill Finger…

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Book Review: THE LAST STAND by Mickey Spillane (Hard Case Crime 2018)


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2018 is the centennial anniversary of Mickey Spillane’s birth! Spillane got his start in comic books, then caused a sensation with his 1947 novel I, THE JURY, introducing the world to that hardest of hardboiled PI’s, Mike Hammer. Hard Case Crime, an imprint every pulp fiction fan should know about, celebrates Spillane’s birth by releasing THE LAST STAND, The Mick’s last completed novel, with a bonus unpublished novella from the early 1950’s.

Spillane with friend/literary executor Max Allan Collins

Mickey’s literary executor and friend Max Allan Collins writes the introduction. Collins is no stranger to the hardboiled genre himself, having been Chester Gould’s replacement on the long-running comic strip Dick Tracy from 1977-92, author of the graphic novel ROAD TO PERDITION, and the Quarry series of books (made into a Showtime series in 2016). Since Spillane’s death in 2006, Collins has been editing and completing the writer’s (“I’m not an…

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4 Shots From 4 Films That Won The Palme d’Or: Wild At Heart, Barton Fink, The Piano, Pulp Fiction


4 Shots from 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots from 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

All four of these films have one thing in common: they all won the Palme d’Or at Cannes!

4 Shots From 4 Films

Wild At Heart (1990, dir by David Lynch)

Barton Fink (1991, dir by the Coen Brothers)

The Piano (1993, dir by Jane Campion)

Pulp Fiction (1994, dir by Quentin Tarantino)

Pulp Fiction #2: The Man of Steel Turns 80!


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On April 18, 1938, National Publications presented Action Comics #1, showcasing typical comic book fare of the era like master magician Zatara, sports hero Pep Morgan, and adventurer Tex Thompson. And then there was the red-and-blue suited guy on the cover…

Yes, it’s Superman, strange visitor from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men… who can change the course of mighty rivers… bend steel in his bare hands… and so on and so forth! Eighty years ago tomorrow, Superman made his debut and changed the course of mighty comic book publishers forever. An immediate hit with youthful readers, Superman headlined his own comic a year later, spawned a slew of superhero imitators, became a super-merchandising machine, and conquered all media like no other before him!

Wayne Boring’s Superman

And to think he came from humble beginnings. No, not the planet Krypton, but from the fertile…

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Pulp Fiction #1: Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer


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“The roar of the .45 shook the room. Charlotte struggled back a step. Her eyes were a symphony of incredulity, an unbelieving witness to truth. Slowly, she looked down at the ugly swelling in her belly where the bullet went in.

“How c-could you”, she gasped.

I only had a moment before talking to a corpse. I got it in.

“It was easy”, I said. “

– from I, THE JURY by Mickey Spillane, first published in 1947 by EP Dutton

Mickey Spillane’s PI Mike Hammer made his debut in I, THE JURY, and set the shocked literary world on its collective ear with its sex-and-violence laden story. Critics savaged Spillane, but the book buying public ate it up, turning I, THE JURY into a best seller and launching Hammer as a pop culture icon. Hammer’s roots were deeply set in the bloody pulps and another 20th century phenomenon… the four-color comics!

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Musical Sequence of the Day: “You Never Can Tell” from Pulp Fiction


With the passing of Chuck Berry, today’s musical sequence of the day is a bit of a no-brainer.  This scene, from 1994’s Pulp Fiction, is already one of my favorite dance scenes and, today, it takes on a special poignance.

It’s funny.  Whenever there’s a montage of classic dance scenes, we always get at least a few seconds of John Travolta and Uma Thurman dancing at Jack Rabbits Slim.  In fact, I’ve seen this dance featured in so many montages that it’s easy to forget which song they were originally dancing to.  I’ve seen this scene scored with everything from Sinatra to punk to Britney Spears to EDM.  And, every time, it’s worked beautifully.

But really, “You Never Can Tell” is the perfect song for this scene.  Pulp Fiction is so many thing that I think people sometimes forget that, at heart, it’s truly a celebration of Americana.  Seeing John Travolta and Uma Thurman dancing to Chuck Berry serves to remind us of this fact.