How Lawrence Bender Changed the Independent Film Genre With Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction introduced a new twist into the crime adventure film genre.

The movie showed that gangsters can be clever and witty speakers with interesting quirks and complex personalities.

The 1994 film built on the momentum sparked by Lawrence Bender’s and Quentin Tarantino’s earlier indie success with Reservoir Dogs.

In Pulp Fiction, pretty much every character is involved in some villainous conduct as the vignettes of several seemingly unrelated stories build their individual dramatic tensions into one grand highly-interconnected tale.

Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer begin the film with their “clever” scheme to rob a diner.

After the introduction credits finish, John Travolta and Samuel Jackson discuss European culture while driving on an errand for their boss Marsellus Wallace, played by Ving Rhames.

In another short story within the film’s plot, Bruce Willis and Maria de Medeiros scheme to escape the wrath of Marsellus Wallace sparked by boxer Willis’ betrayal by winning a fight in which he was paid to take a dive by Rhames.

As the story progresses, Travolta entertains Ving Rhames’, played by Uma Thurmon, to a night on the town at a 1960‘s themed diner while Rhames is out of town.

In an intriguing storyline twist, Travolta winds up being executed by Willis after Willis discovers Travolta attempting to stake out Willis’ apartment.

In the final act of the film, Travolta and Jackson need to dispose of a body that Travolta fatally shot by accident and the pair are directed to the home of “the Wolf,” Marsellus Wallace’s cleanup man played by Harvey Keitel.

After Keitel’s assistance, Travolta and Jackson decide to have breakfast at a diner, where the story comes full circle to the opening scene with Plummer and Roth robbing the same diner.

The movie did receive some criticism for its portrayal of Hollywood’s underground culture. In particular, Travolta’s and Thurman’s substance use within the film had been criticized as glamorizing addiction. However, the actors’ portrayed vices in fact add dimensionality to the characters, which in other films are portrayed with much more flat treatments.

Pulp Fiction introduced a boon to the independent film industry, resulting in several large and small budget copycat productions.

Lawrence Bender

Born in October, 1957 Lawrence Bender is most well known for his work as an American film producer. Bender has received three best picture Academy Award nominations and has received numerous other awards throughout his motion picture career.

The Bronx, NY native is known to make cameo appearances in several of the films he produces. In Pulp Fiction, Lawrence Bender is credited as the diner patron referred to in the film’s credits as “long haired yuppie scum.”

https://www.ioes.ucla.edu/person/lawrence-bender/

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