Gene Wilder


Dean correctly identifies actor Gene Wilder (1933-2016) as playing the title role in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, which is one of his best known films. Other notable performances are for the films he did with Mel Brooks, and those with Richard Pryor.

Like Gene Hackman, Gene Wilder became an author later in life, producing three novels, a book of short stories, and two memoirs. Wilder and Hackman both appeared in Bonnie and Clyde (1967), and Young Frankenstein (1974).

Gene Hackman

LORELAI: It’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
CASHIER: Oh, that’s nice. Isn’t that the one with Gene Hackman?

Gene Hackman (born Eugene Hackman in 1930) is a retired actor. His career in Hollywood spanned five decades, and he won Best Actor for The French Connection (1971), and Best Supporting Actor for Unforgiven (1992). Hackman became a writer in 1999, and has written five novels.

He tended to do tough guy roles in action and crime films, so that the idea of him playing the whimsically flamboyant Willy Wonka is slightly ludicrous.

Lorelai and Rory’s Movie Night Junk Food Blowout

pizza with everything (from the delivery service)

mystery dessert (brought over by Sookie – maybe cake?)

microwave popcorn

spray cheese (to put on the popcorn, I think)

potato chips

corn chips

Cheetos puffed corn snacks


jelly beans

Nestle’s Willy Wonka Fun-Dip Lix-a-Stix

Red Vines red licorice sticks

prepackaged cookie dough (with a spoon to eat it)

peanut butter (maybe to use as a dip with chocolates?)


Hershey’s chocolate kisses

Hershey’s Cadbury Caramello bars


Nancy Walker

Rory warns Lorelai she isn’t allowed to do any Nancy Walker impressions when she meets Rory’s new boyfriend.

Nancy Walker (1922-1992) was an American actress and comedian. Rory is most likely thinking of Walker’s role in the award-winning 1970s sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In the show, Walker played Ida Morgenstern, the overbearing mother of Mary’s best friend Rhoda Morgenstern; she reprised the role in the spin-off show Rhoda.

Rory’s comment suggests that Lorelai had previously done impressions of Nancy Walker as a joke, pretending to be the sort of interfering mother that she tried so hard not to be.

James Dean

Rory warns her mother she doesn’t want her to make any jokes about James Dean when she meets Rory’s boyfriend Dean.

James Dean (1931-1955) was an American actor, an icon of teenage disillusonment and 1950s cool, best known for his 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause. His early death in a car accident meant that his youth and beauty remained intact forever, and he is regarded as one the great stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

James Dean may have been one of the influences on the choice of Dean’s name in Gilmore Girls, especially since James Dean was from the Midwest and loved cars and motorcycles, just like Dean Forester. Along with Dean Moriarty from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, the name suggests coolness and rebellion – nothing at all like Dean Forester really, but more what Lorelai feared Dean could be, as her comments about tattoos and motorcycles in the Pilot demonstrated.


Rory warns her mother not to refer to Chicago as “Chi-Town” when she meets her new boyfriend Dean, who is from Chicago.

The term Chi-Town originated as trucker’s slang to refer to Chicago via citizens’ band radio; it obviously takes the first three letters of Chicago and adds Town to it. The slang term spread more widely than CB radio usage after it featured in the 1975 novelty song Convoy by C.W. McCall, from the album Black Bear Road. The song went to #1 in the national charts, as well as #1 in the country charts, and inspired the 1978 film Convoy.


LORELAI: I’m going to be so cool in there you will mistake me for Shaft.

John Shaft is a fictional African-American private detective based in New York City. He first appeared in the 1970 detective novel Shaft by Ernest Tidyman, adapted into a film of the same name in 1971 which was directed by Gordon Parks with Richard Roundtree in the title role; Ernest Tidyman was one of the screenwriters. The movie was successful and well-received by both white and black audience members, in large part because of John Shaft’s elegant flair, and the excellent score by Isaac Hayes, which won an Academy Award.

John Shaft detective novels continued being published through the 1970s, and Shaft went on to become a television series from 1973-74, with Richard Roundtree continuing in the role of John Shaft. Two sequels to Shaft were produced in the 1970s.

Shaft came out in June 2000 – not a remake or reboot, but another sequel. In this film, Samuel L. Jackson plays John Shaft II, the nephew of the original John Shaft. It did well at the box office and received generally positive reviews.

Lorelai and Rory could easily have seen the new Shaft the preceding summer, but knowing Lorelai’s love of 1970s cinema, she is probably (mostly) referring to the original film here. The 2000 Shaft soundtrack is R&B and hip-hop – I don’t know if this helps explain Lorelai’s supposed “love of rap” or not.

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

This is the movie that Lorelai, Rory and Dean watch together. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory is a 1971 musical fantasy film directed by Mel Stuart. It is an adaptation of the 1964 children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by British writer Roald Dahl. The story is about a young boy named Charlie Bucket, who wins a golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory with four other children from around the world.

The film received positive reviews, and although not successful on release, went on to become very popular through repeated television broadcasts and home entertainment sales/rentals.

The movie’s theme of a child from a humble background winning that rare chance to change their life and prove they really are special is an idea that Lorelai and Rory seem to love, not so strangely.

9/12 Weeks

RORY: We weren’t making out. It was just one kiss.
LORELAI: Yeah, well by the time that gets to Miss Patty’s it’s a scene from 9 1/2 Weeks.

9 1/2 Weeks is a 1986 erotic drama film directed by Adrian Lyne, based on the 1978 memoir of the same name by Austrian-American author Ingeborg Day. It stars Kim Basinger and Mickey O’Rourke as an art gallery assistant and a Wall Street broker who have a brief, intense sadomasochistic affair.

The movie was a box office bomb in the US, but hugely successful overseas in its unedited version, especially in France, Italy, and Latin America. Video and DVD brought it a large fanbase and a cult following.

The two main characters in the film first meet in a grocery store, reminiscent of Rory and Dean’s first kiss in the Stars Hollow market.

Amazing Woman

LUKE: You’re an amazing woman.
LORELAI: Thank you for noticing.

The scene in the grocery store between Luke and Lorelai is the first time we have seen them really connect, and talk together seriously as friends. For the first time, the idea of them becoming a couple seems more of a reality, and something we can imagine.