Anne Thompson
June 03, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Cannes Film Festival began with the French railing that the Americans didn’t send enough important films or stars; it ended with an American movie snatching the Palme d’Or: Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, the first U.S. film to capture the prize since Barton Fink in ’91. For star John Travolta, who plays a philosophical killer in the black comedy, it was an even bigger triumph. “Quentin fought for me when hotter people were interested in the part,” says the actor. Others left the Riviera weary but wiser. Especially festival president Clint Eastwood. “I’ve never seen 23 films in one week,” he admits. “It makes me want to cut 20 minutes out of all my movies.”

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