Tuesday, July 29, 2008
#30: Inglorious Bastards
Directed by Enzo G. Castellari
Written by Sandro Continenza, Sergio Grieco, Franco Marotta, Romano Migliorini, Laura Toscano
Released February 8, 1978 (Italy)
While Inglorious Bastards, an Italian World War II action/adventure movie, may have finally reached a DVD release because it celebrates its 30 year anniversary this year, it is just as likely that interest in this cult film has been raised in recent years on the news that Quentin Tarantino has been working on a remake as his next project.
From what I've read of the script that leaked a few weeks ago, Tarantino's film is pretty much as far from a remake as one can get, sharing pretty much two things with the original: the title, and the spirit of bloody mayhem. Both films, however, are as much about the reality of World War II as Spider Man is about spiders.
Inglorious Bastards, in large part a rip-off/homage to films like The Dirty Dozen, is part of that certain breed of war movie that really died off by the time American got involved in the Vietnam war. Heist-like action movies in the vein of Kelly's Heroes and The Great Escape eventually gave way to more serious, gritty films like The Deer Hunter and Platoon. The closest we've come to that old style of adventure war movie in recent years is probably something like Three Kings, but even that film eventually takes on an air of seriousness as the soldiers face a moral dilemma in trying to steal gold from Sadaam Hussein.
Bastards is a Spaghetti-Western (is there a more apt name? Rigatoni-War Movie?) reminder of those old "fun" war movies. Here, a group of American soldiers about to be tried for their crimes, are boarded onto a personnel truck and shipped off to their court martial. On their way to trial, their convoy is attacked by an enemy fighter plane, killing their captors and freeing them to flee to Sweeden.
Lead by Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson, the small group of men nearly fights their way out until a miscommunication results in their attack on a group of covert American soldiers who are on their way to disarming a German bomb. Feeling obligated to make amends for this fatal error, the convicts step in for the squadron and a slow-motion cinematic bloodbath ensues. Grenades explode, bodies are hurled in every direction, and Fred Williamson literally risks life and limb by not using a stuntman.
I mentioned in my review of Suspiria that there was a trend in the 70s to end a movie right after an explosion, and Bastards is no exception. A friend and I used to joke about how when we were kids and we wrote stories, they always ended thusly: "And then a bomb hit and everyone blew up." Save for a few survivors, this is pretty much the deal here.
In the end, Bastards is fairly fun and enjoyable. Nothing great, but maybe worth catching via Netflix or cable if you're into this sort of thing. It's easy to see where there is definite room for improvement in Tarantino's update, especially regarding characterization and dialogue.
For more on Inglorious Bastards:
- Movie information at IMDB and Wikipedia
- Check out how many alternate titles this movie had at the grindhouse database
- Buy the newly released DVD boxed set at Amazon.com
The original trailer, which like most 1970s trailers is way too long and gives away far more than you'll want to know: