Few films capture the grime and the glamour of Los Angeles like Pulp Fiction. Released in 1994, this hyper-violent, comedic, and friendly tender offering is one of the most iconic films of the 1990s and is widely regarded as Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece.
Starring the likes of Uma Thurman, John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction is the sum of a set of interweaving narratives. Firstly, we have hitmen Winnfield and Vincent Vega, who are trying to track down a suitcase stolen from their employer, Marsellus Wallace, an infamous L.A. mob boss. Then there’s Butch Coolidge, an ageing boxer paid to lose his upcoming fight. There’s also Honey Bunny and Pumpkin, a pair of romantically-involved small-town thieves who decide they need a change of scene.
Over the course of Pulp Fiction, the lives of these seemingly unrelated characters begin to intermingle, leading to one of the most intoxicating and unnerving depictions of L.A. in modern cinematic history.
The geography of L.A. was essential to Pulp Fiction, and Tarantino shows us every corner of the city, from seedy motels and cramped apartments to the lofty mansions of Beverly Hills. Unfortunately, several of the film’s most iconic settings don’t actually exist in real life, Jackwater Slims being the most obvious example. Here, we’ve put together a list of Pulp Fiction locations that can either be visited or at least peered at from afar. So, let’s get trotting.
Visit the filming locations of Pulp Fiction:
Location: 13763 Hawthorne Boulevard, L.A
Sat on the corner of Hawthorn Boulevard and 137th Place, Hawthorne Grill serves as the location for the scene in which Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) discuss the challenges of the criminal life, debate sacking it all in altogether and then make an impromptu decision to rob the very cafe they’re in. When location manager Bob Craft scouted the grill, it was boarded up and entirely abandoned. Inside, however, everything was precisely as it would have been when it was functioning, with napkins and place settings still on the tables.
The diner opened in 1956, at which time it was known as Holly’s. With its overhanging concrete facade, it’s the perfect example of John Lautner’s Googie architecture style. Angular, striking and strangely space-age, it was designed to capture the attention of drivers by standing out among the drab monotony of other storefronts. In Pulp Fiction, the location immediately tells us that we’re in a murky backstreet of L.A.
Location: 3519 La Clede Avenue, L.A
If you’re looking for the house of Vincent Vega’s placated heroin dealer Lance, you’re best off taking a trip to Atwater Village. Recalling the moment he spotted the house, Crafty told Los Angeles Magazine: “I remember very clearly that the guy who owned the house was sitting on the front porch reading the Sunday New York Times,” says Craft. “So I stopped and I talked to him for a bit and he said, ‘Yeah, come on in.’” The home was a 1912 craftsman bungalow.
The location crew were looking for the kind of place where a drug dealer could meld into the background, and the bungalow was the perfect find. Because the floor plan was so well suited to Tarantino’s rolling dialogue, the crew ended up using every inch of the house, including the front porch, where Vincent crashes his car while Mia Wallace overdoses in the passenger seat.
The Wallace’s House
Location: 1541 Summitridge Drive, Beverly Hills
The real-life (and equally opulent) residence of Marsellus and Mia Wallace is located on the lofty Summitridge Drive in Beverly Hills. Providing panoramic views of the west side of Los Angeles, the house was chosen because it seemed to reflect the character’s taste for the finer things in life. It also adds to the diversity of architectural styles present in Pulp Fiction, emphasising Tarantino’s depiction of L.A. as an unreal city where grand mansions sit next to humble craftsman’s cottages.
The house was built in the 1960s and features a gated private drive, ocean views from almost all rooms, limestone floorings, and a 50ft infinity pool and spa all surrounded by limestone decking and verdant landscaping. When Tarantino’s crew arrived they were delighted to discover it also featured an array of artwork that they were allowed to include in the footage.
River Glen Hotel
Location: 2934 Riverside Drive, L.A.
The River Glen Hotel is located just off the corner of Riverside Drive and Glendale Boulevard. It serves as the setting for Butch and his girlfriend Fabienne’s overnight stay after he escapes the boxing arena and they await their flight to L.A. the following day. Craft chose the motel for the presence of the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge in the background. “When you leave that motel and you turn on Riverside you see the bridge in the background. It’s just visually striking. When you see that, it says L.A.”
Originally named the Victory Memorial Bridge, which began construction in 1927 and opened in 1929, the structure looms behind the River Glen Hotel as Butch and Fabienne pull out of the motel’s driveway on Zed’s motorbike. Apparently, the motel itself was in such a state of disrepair when the crew arrived that it had to be cleaned up prior to filming. “We actually had to go in there and clear away hypodermic needles and condoms because it was a really rough location,” says Craft.
Butch’s apartment (Interior)
Location: 11813 Runnymede Street, North Hollywood
One of the hardest locations for the crew to pin down, we first see the Butch’s North Hollywood apartment after Fabienne fails to bring the former’s great-great grandfather’s gold watch to the motel. Forced to return to the building to collect it, Butch creeps through the interior, well aware that Marsellus’s henchmen are probably waiting for him.
The apartment on 11813 Runnymede St was perfect for Tarantino’s script because the bathroom was located directly in front of the kitchen, allowing for one of the most crucial scenes in the whole film. In the script, the director wrote: “Butch looks up to the bathroom door, which is parallel to the kitchen. There is someone behind it. That someone is Vincent Vega, who has been in the bathroom reading his hardback copy of pulp novel, Modesty Blaise, since the time Butch entered the apartment. Armed with a submachine gun Vincent carelessly left on the kitchen counter, Butch shoots Vincent as a pair of Pop Tarts suddenly eject from the toaster.”