And please note the spelling, because the Quentin Tarantino movie from 2009 is called “INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS.” That movie is great, but it ain’t this one.
THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS, please note spelling and emphasis, is the original piece that started it all. It was directed by Enzo G. Castellari (HIGH CRIME, GREAT WHITE, 1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS), one of the better-known and busier auteurs in Italy whose work has since been sporadically rediscovered in America, along parallel journeys, by B-movie maniacs such as the esteemed Mr. Tarantino. The first Castellari movie I think I saw was a spaghetti Western called KEOMA, which sent me on a path through the maestro’s work that ultimately ended me at a double feature of BATTLE SQUADRON and STREET LAW that turned out to have been introduced by no less than Sr. Castellari and Mr. Tarantino themselves! QT was bringing the maestro along with him on the preliminary press tour for INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. This appearance is online, amazingly…
In that clip they’re discussing 1969’s BATTLE SQUADRON, a.k.a. EAGLES OVER LONDON, an Italian-made movie about the German aerial assault on the United Kingdom. Say what? Yup. Besides “spaghetti Westerns”, did you know that the Italians made “spaghetti World War Two movies”? It’s a little-known bit of trivia that is charming and weird and just a little culturally and historically mind-blowing, considering where Italy stood at the time — you know, on the other side. Enzo Castellari made several of these films, known to some as “macaroni combat” films. In my barely-educated opinion, THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS is one of the best of its kind. It’s set up to be a movie just like THE DIRTY DOZEN, an all-star team of mean men on a mission, albeit one which features virtually no recognizable faces (on this side of the world at least.) The Bastard team is
1. Bo Svenson (BREAKING POINT), who’s something like a super-sized Steve McQueen;
2. Peter Hooten (ORCA), as the butch guy in an ascot who’s supposed to have the anti-authority John Cassavetes role;
3. An Italian 1970s Black-Sabbath-looking guy who has a downright shocking hairdo reveal;
4. A whiny little dude who’s the most likely to be fertilizer before the end credits roll;
5. A German turncoat [spoiler!] who rocks the 1970s Jew-fro look so hard that he puts both Will Ferell and Seth Rogen together to shame;
and best of all,
6. Fred Williamson (VIGILANTE), otherwise known as “The Hammer.”
Fred Williamson rules this movie. He really plays his character in this movie like Bugs Bunny – mischievous, anarchic, and hilarious. He dominates so much that the movie was released in several markets under the inimitable title G.I. BRO. The Hammer is the main reason, alongside the gunfights and the explosions and the lake full of naked blond German spies, that you will have a total blast watching THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS.
To be honest, seeing this one before the Tarantino movie hurt my experience of the Tarantino movie. Tarantino tends to favor the long-ass conversation and there ain’t too much of that here. Not that what QT did do isn’t terrific, but after seeing the original, you kind of yearn to see a more literal approximation of a Castellari film — more action, less talk, more titties. Then again, that’s what we have the original for. I recommend it.
Severin Films has a three-disc edition that includes a ton of extras and a CD of the rousing Francesco De Masi score. Get it if you can; see the movie regardless. As far as midnight movie experiences go — because let’s face it, you ain’t likely to be watching this during the day — this is absolutely one of the better ones imaginable.
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