MOTW: The Five Most Memorable Lines from "Pulp Fiction"

Photo Credit: Miramax Films
August 21st, 2013

MOTW: The Five Most Memorable Lines from "Pulp Fiction"

The movie that catapulted famed director Quentin Tarantino to stardom and made the MF-bomb a household word turns twenty next year. It's officially an oldie, yet there are still things that just can't be forgotten about the movie. For instance, the following five lines from "Pulp Fiction" had such an impact they became a regular part of American speech—if only for a little while.

"English, motherf***er, do you speak it?"

"Pulp Fiction" wouldn't have been the same without one very important actor. John Travolta brought a tongue-in-cheek feel to his role, and Uma Thurman lent hers an ounce of grace, but the movie would have bordered on forgettable if it weren't for the outstandingly brash performance of Samuel L. Jackson.

Reading Jules' lines from the movie immediately bring Jackson's voice to mind. Out of any man ever to grace the big screen, he really made an art of cursing. Unfortunately, what should have been a memorable quirk from a lone character became somewhat of a career staple.

"You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in Paris?"
"A Royale with cheese."

In the most devious display of product placement known to man, McDonald's got their hands on this film, and for years afterward, the poor kids working drive-throughs all across the nation wound up paying for it. Stoners everywhere flocked to McDonald's to recite their favorite lines and boost the monster corporation's profits in the process; well played Ronald.

"Bring out the Gimp!"

If it weren't for the Gimp, audiences might very well forget about this part of the "Pulp Fiction" story. The incident is so raw, so violent, and so creepy compared to the rest of the film that even hardcore fans seem eager to experience it and move on. Unfortunately, the Gimp is also such an off-the-wall character that he cannot be forgotten.

This movie marked the first time many moviegoers had seen true bondage equipment. Leather chaps, ball gags, and old, unsuspecting white men turning the tables on the biggest baddie in the movie was just too big of a twist for a lot of people to take in. That's why this line sticks. Any fan who hears someone throw out this phrase immediately returns to that uncomfortable place where no doubts were left that things were going to get nasty.

"Five long years, he wore this watch up his ***."

Bondage aside, was there anything really more disturbing in "Pulp Fiction" than Christopher Walken's testament to his old army buddy? Forced bondage is one thing, but hiding a friend's watch in your innards after you'd already seen him die from dysentery for doing the exact same thing? It's chilling.

One marvelous thing about this scene was that it really demonstrated Quentin Tarantino's knack for making people squirm. He's a good director because he can keep things from getting cheesy in moments when they otherwise would be. For all intents and purposes, "Pulp Fiction" could have been a joke in itself. The reason why Tarantino is a master moviemaker is that he not only hires serious actors but also adeptly controls the audience's emotions.

"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."

Surprisingly, this monologue snippet spoken by Samuel L. Jackson doesn't happen at the end of the movie. It makes such a big impression that people often assume it occurs during the climax of the film. In truth, it happens right at the beginning, and Tarantino relies heavily on it to set the vibe for the rest of the story.

Right after Jules says his piece, he and Vince murder someone for supposedly offending their boss. The act makes strong statements. Not only are the main characters working under the direction of Marcellus Wallace, but Marcellus Wallace is a very powerful and very bad man. Every other story the movie meanders through holds this as an accepted truth, which is what makes the scene with the Gimp so uncomfortable and so unforgettable. Turning the audiences' world on its head is much more efficiently shocking than every other bit of R-rated material in "Pulp Fiction."