The Story (continued)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
THE BONNIE SITUATION [Story 3]
[This continues the Post-Credits Prologue - the Prelude to "Vincent Vega & Marsellus Wallace's Wife"]
Hitmen Vincent Vega and Jules are in the Hollywood apartment, performing their early-morning assignment to retrieve Marsellus' briefcase from a group of college kids. Jules is at the point of reciting the memorized Bible passage to Brett, who is about to be assassinated (seen a second time, with slight variations):
Well, there's this passage I got memorized. Sort of fits this occasion. Ezekiel 25:17. '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 attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee!'
During the brutal execution as Marvin (Phil LaMarr) cowers in the corner, a fourth man (Alexis Arquette, credited as Man # 4) is huddled in the bathroom, clutching a large silver .357 Magnum. He bursts out of hiding as the two hit men are calming down Marvin - [Discontinuity: bullet holes appear in the wall behind them even before the shooting occurs!] The fourth individual charges while shouting: "Die, you motherf--kers!" and wildly fires six shots point-blank at them. The two hit men are astonished that they are unharmed - not a single bullet hits either of them, but only embeds in the wall behind them. They return fire and murder the shooter, (Body Count #7) who has wielded a formidable "hand cannon" at them.
Afterwards, Vincent speaks to their informant Marvin: "Why the f--k didn't you tell us somebody was in the bathroom?" Jules mutters to himself: "We should be f--kin' dead, man." He regards their salvation as a miraculous sign from God and wants Vincent to acknowledge the fact: "That s--t wasn't luck...This was divine intervention." Vincent offers his definition: "That means that God came down from Heaven and stopped the bullets." As Jules drives off with Marvin (in the backseat), taken as a hostage, the two hitmen continue their "theological discussion" in the car.
Jules feels that his eyes are now "wide f--kin' open" after their miraculous escape from being shot. He interprets it as a sign that he should retire from his deadly profession - working for Marsellus: "It means that's it for me. From here on in, you can consider my ass retired." Vincent asks Marvin: "What do you make of all this?" He replies: "Man, I don't even have an opinion." Vincent turns around, with his gun in his right hand, as he sardonically asks again: "Well, you gotta have an opinion. I mean, do you think that God came down from Heaven and stopped --- "
Suddenly, Vincent's mispointed gun fires accidentally. It is a sick, gruesomely funny, and blood-splattering back-seat death for Marvin. (Body Count #8) The inside of the back window is sprayed with blood. After Jules exclaims: "What the f--k's happenin'?", Vega offers a lame explanation: "Oh, man, I shot Marvin in the face." Jules asks: "Why the f--k'd you do that?" Vega can only admit: "I didn't mean to do it. It was an accident," and then he blames it on Jules' driving, claiming he went over a bump. He keeps saying: "I didn't mean to shoot the son-of-a-bitch. The gun went off. I don't know why." Jules is worried they will be discovered by the police: "Look at this f--kin' mess, man! We're on a city street in broad daylight here...We gotta get this car off the road. You know, cops seem to notice s--t like you're drivin' a car drenched in f--kin' blood."
Now 8:00 am, they flee to the Toluca Lake home of Jules' friend Jimmie (director Quentin Tarantino) - [Note: This is an oblique reference to the New Wave film by director Francois Truffaut, Jules et Jim (1962).] There, the two bloody the towels in the bathroom while washing their blood-soaked hands. In the kitchen, Jules compliments Jimmie on his coffee: "This some serious gourmet s--t. Me and Vincent would have been satisfied with some freeze-dried Taster's Choice." After they arrive and park the car in Jimmie's garage, he is dismayed by the bloody car and the corpse. Whiny Jimmie is anxious about the situation, not the quality of the coffee: "It's the dead nigger in my garage." He petulantly adds:
"When you came pullin' in here, did you notice the sign on the front of my house that said, 'Dead Nigger Storage'?"
He is worried that his wife Bonnie is about to return home from her hospital nurse work (graveyard shift) in an hour and a half, and they need to clean up the bloody evidence before she arrives - otherwise, she might threaten a divorce. Jules phones for help from Marsellus, explaining that there is no way Bonnie can return home from work and find "a bunch of gangsters in the kitchen doin' a bunch of gangster s--t." [The dilemma is briefly dramatized.]
Jules is relieved ("That's all you had to say") when the crime boss promises to call upon the Wolf, a problem-solver. The efficient and quick professional killer, a suave, dapper, dinner-jacketed Winston Wolf (Harvey Keitel), is summoned to assist from an 8:30 am cocktail party being held in a hotel suite, where fancy-dressed players are gambling. [Note: The role is similar to Keitel's role in director John Badham's The Assassin (1993), aka Point of No Return, in which he is a cleaner who disposes of bodies and evidence.] After jotting down brief notes, The Wolf asserts: "It's 30 minutes away. I'll be there in ten." According to a caption, he arrives at the scene "nine minutes thirty-seven seconds later" - with tires on his silver Acura screeching to a halt. He curtly says there are only 40 minutes left to deal with the situation. After savoring a cup of Jimmie's coffee, with "lotsa cream, lotsa sugar," the Wolf takes charge. He orders Jules and Vincent about what must be done, in great detail, showing off his expertise:
- "Take the body, stick it in the trunk."
- "Take those cleaning products and clean the inside of the car -- I'm talkin' fast, fast, fast."
- "You need to go in the back seat, scoop up all those little pieces of brain and skull. Get it out of there. Wipe down the upholstery."
He also asks for items from Jimmie's linen closet (blankets, comforters, quilts, bedspreads) to camouflage the interior of the car. (He later reimburses Jimmie with a wad of cash for the cost of the replacement of the bedroom set.] When he orders the hitmen to get to work, Vincent asks for a 'please' - and is reprimanded by the Wolf for being disrespectful: "I'm not here to say 'please'. I'm here to tell you what to do." He explains that his curtness is because "time is a factor" - "So pretty please, with sugar on top, clean the f--kin' car." As Jules and Vincent argue inside the car about their "repugnant" duties, Jules insists that they switch roles: "We're f--kin' switchin'. I'm washin' the windows, and you're pickin' up this nigger's skull." Phase Two of the job requires that the hitmen clean themselves up, dispose of their own "bloody rags" in a large plastic trash bag, soap up under a stream of water from a garden hose, and change into dorky casual-wear (shorts and T-shirts) provided by Jimmie - Jules wears a "I'm With Stupid" T-shirt, while Vincent wears a UC Santa Cruz "Banana Slugs" T-shirt.
The Wolf and Jules drive off in the "tainted" Chevrolet to Monster Joe's Truck and Tow, a used auto junkyard in North Hollywood, owned by Joe and his earthy red-haired daughter Raquel (Julia Sweeney), while Vincent follows in the Wolf's Acura. Apparently, Wolf is having an affair with Raquel, and after dropping off the car, he invites her out to breakfast. After they speed off, Jules and Vincent are forced to take a cab ride to their homes, Inglewood and Redondo Beach respectively, but first decide to go and have breakfast.
EPILOGUE [Interlocking with the Prologue]
In the film's epilogue, hitman Jules is eating breakfast (only coffee and a muffin) in a booth in LA's Hawthorne Grill with his partner Vincent (gorging himself on pancakes and pork sausages). Jules refuses an offer of pork, and they enter into a discussion about the pros and cons of eating pork. Jules believes pigs are dirty animals: "Pigs sleep and root in s--t. That's a filthy animal." Then Jules returns to the discussion about the Miracle that he has experienced, describing: "I felt the touch of God. God got involved." He insists that because of this spiritual revelation, he is seriously going to forsake the "Life" and quit being a gangster. First, he plans to deliver the case to Marsellus, then "I'm just gonna walk the Earth...You know, like Caine in Kung Fu." [Note: The half-Chinese, half-Caucasian Shaolin monk, Kwai Chang Caine, was played by David Carradine in the early 1970s ABC-TV show.] He will "walk from place to place, meet people, get in adventures...'til God puts me where He wants me to be...If it takes forever, then I'll walk forever." He refuses to let Vincent call him a "bum" like the homeless begging for spare change on the streets. Vincent excuses himself "to take a s--t," but first asks when Jules made his decision. Jules says he had "a moment of clarity" during his breakfast when he contemplated quitting.
Suddenly, Jules witnesses the two robbers from the film's pre-credits sequence - ordering the patrons from their booths, getting the Mexicans out of the kitchen, threatening and intimidating the manager, and stealing from the patrons by having them deposit their valuables in a plastic trash bag held by Ringo. [Note: This was the name of one of Tarantino's favorite 'spaghetti western' characters.] When Jules is personally confronted by Ringo, he calmly deposits his wallet in the bag, but won't easily part with the briefcase. After a count to three, he relinquishes the case, snaps it open, and reveals to the thieves the mysterious, glowing orange contents. When they express amazement ("It's beautiful"), Jules takes advantage of the situation, grabs Ringo's gun, and holds his own .45 pistol under Ringo's chin. While her partner is held hostage, Honey Bunny/Yolanda becomes hysterical.
To have crazed neurotic Honey Bunny relax her trigger-finger, Jules asks her: "What's Fonzie like?" When she rightly answers with "Cool," he replies appropriately: "Correctamundo. And that's what we're gonna be." Because Jules is in a "transitional period" and starting a new life, he doesn't want things to end in bloodshed, and promises that he wants to help them. Vincent appears with gun drawn and aimed at Honey Bunny, but is instructed to "hang back." Jules has Ringo retrieve his wallet (inscribed "Bad Motherf--ker") from the plastic bag, and uncharacteristically hands over almost $1,500 dollars as a reward to them (for not taking the briefcase), and then explains: "I'm giving you that money so I don't have to kill your ass." He reprises and reinterprets his Biblical speech to thieving Ringo - this time changing its meaning to rationalize his mercy rather than rebribution:
You read the Bible, Ringo?...Well, there's this passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. '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 attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon you.'
I been saying that s--t for years, and if you heard it, that meant your ass. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was some cold-blooded s--t to say to a mother f--ker before I popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some s--t this mornin' made me think twice. See, now I'm thinkin' maybe it means you're the evil man and I'm the righteous man, and Mr. 9-millimeter here, he's the shepherd protectin' my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd, and it's the world that's evil and selfish. Now, I'd like that. But that s--t ain't the truth. The truth is, you're the weak and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd. (He uncocks his gun and lowers it) Go.
Ultimately, to redeem himself, he lets the two robbers flee with $1,500 from his wallet (but not with the briefcase, which isn't his), and the patrons' valuables. After hesitating for a moment, the two thieves walk out the front door with the trash bag. The film concludes with the two hit men also calmly leaving, to the tune of The Lively Ones' "Surf Rider":
Vincent: I think we should be leaving now.
Jules: Yeah. That's probably a good idea.
Also Worth Considering:
Pulp Fiction (1994)