Three of the most iconic scenes in Quentin Tarantino’s seminal masterpiece Pulp Fiction take place in diners. The most memorable, of course, is Jack Rabbit Slims, the 50s-style diner where Vince and Mia dance the twist. Described by Vince as “a wax museum with a pulse,” Jack Rabbit Slims is a delightfully campy distillation of mid-century American memorabilia. The waiter staff dress up like famous icons from the era, including Marilyn Monroe, Buddy Holly, and James Dean, the booths are fashioned out of classic cars, and everyone drinks overpriced milkshakes and vanilla cokes. It is a blown-up version of quintessential American diner, and it is, alas, totally fake. The largest chunk of the film’s budget-$150,00-went to crafting the set, most of which was filmed at a vast Culver City warehouse.
However, movie pilgrims and Tarantino worshipers can visit the other famous diner that bookends the film, the Hawthorne Grill, located on 37th and Hawthorne in Los Angeles. In the opening scene, Pumpkin and Honey Bunny discuss the genius of choosing to rob a restaurant instead of a bank or liquor store, comfortable in the knowledge that they will catch patrons and employees alike “with their pants down.” In the end, it is Pumpkin and Honey Bunny who end up with their pants down when Vince and Jules happen to be eating at the diner at the exact same time. Jules quotes the bible and allows the couple to leave, albeit penniless, before he and Vince exit the diner to the tune of “Surf Rider” by the Lively Ones. The Hawthorne Grill was selected for its Googie Architecture, a style of futurist design that grew up out of California in the 1940s. Highly influenced by the Space Age and the growth of car culture, Googie architecture features slanted or curving roofs, geometric shapes, and the ultra modern use of steel, iron, and neon. Because Googie architecture is most strongly reflected in diners, coffeehouses, gas stations, and motels, it is frequently featured in classic road films and LA neo-noirs.