Every balanced cinematic diet can use a little junk food…

Enzo G. Castellari’s The Inglorious Bastards, aka Counterfeit Commandos, aka Deadly Mission, aka Hell’s Heroes, aka G.I Bro (!!), isn’t likely to show up on any respected critic’s top 10 list, but it also offers more amusement per dollar budgeted than any children’s cartoon, high-concept comedy or sanitized superhero movie you’d care to name this summer.

Citizen Kane? Hardly. 100% pure imported low-budget trashy Italian fun? Absolutely. Bastards will never have any Burger King tie-ins, but take the New Beverly Cinema; pack it with an into-it audience; kick it off with some hilarious classic trailers (Kill Them All and Come Back Alone, Great White, Take a Hard Ride) add a raffle with free t-shirts and DVDs; finish it off with a Q&A by Mr. Castellari, Fred Williamson and Bo Svenson; and you’ve got the kind of evening’s entertainment that makes me glad I live in LA.

The plot (five US soldiers facing court martial in World War II escape and try to make their way to safety in Switzerland) is really just an excuse to string together some action set pieces and good natured humor.  Imagine lots of gunfire, lots of slow motion explosions and lots of cheesy fun.

Best moment: the crowd breaks into cheers when Fred Williamson jumps off a bridge onto the top of a moving train; no stuntmen, no edits.

Goofiest moment: Stumbling across a group of women bathing in a river, the soldiers pass themselves off as Germans to join in the fun. When African-American Fred Williamson shows up, the girls realize the men are Americans, pull machineguns out of nowhere and start firing away. That’s right: topless, slow motion machine-gunning; you know, the kind of thing that would’ve gotten me through junior high. The crowd went crazy.

More than the admittedly low-rent movie itself, the best part was the enthusiastic audience and the Q&A afterwards with a genuinely moved Castellari, Williamson and Svenson. Someone suggested the crowd sing Happy Birthday to the 80-year-old director and we broke into it easily and spontaneously. Enzo had been thrilled that all these “young people” had turned out for his 30-year-old movie, but to have Hollywood singing Happy Birthday to him was an unexpected treat.

Every balanced cinematic diet can use a little junk food. Last night I had a box of Twinkies. They were delicious.

As for Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards, clearly he isn’t doing a remake of this film. He’s been inspired by the spirit, he’s running with the basic idea and he’s using the title, but I’m betting that’s where similarities will end. It sounds crazy, but I learned after Kill Bill not to question what Tarantino does. He’s always delivered, no matter how skeptical I’ve been. 

11 Responses to “New Beverly Nights: Glorious ‘Bastards’”

  1. 99 down, 1 more to go!

  2. actually this was 98. But still…

  3. Great job conveying both the trashiness of the film and the excitement of the crowd, Craig. I wonder how it plays sitting in your living room. I’ll be to sure find out soon enough.

  4. Sounds like a good time but from what you describe, I can easily see Ryan’s point-of-view too. I’m guessing the atmosphere and the setting made this movie far more fun than it probably deserved to be. Good times!

  5. Wish i coulda been there.

  6. Being there was definitely the point. I didn’t buy a copy of the DVD on the way out the door or anything.

    It was a throwback to a gentler time when I was more easily amused and it was fun to see it large with an excited crowd. There is an audience for this kind of thing on DVD, but I’m probably not it.

  7. My favorite moment was the topless fräulein with the machine gun. I wish Peter Hooten had been even 1/10th as hot as he seemed to think he was.

    Appreciative nostalgic audience would’ve made a big difference in my appraisal, no doubt.

    [EDIT: damn! I swear I wrote this comment before reading the middle of your review. yay! jiggly topless machine gun kickback! see, Craig, we don’t differ that much in our opinions after all! I should youtube that bit, so everybody can enjoy it.]

  8. here ya go:
    Inglorious Bastards
    custom clip
    rat-a-tat-tat meets tit-for tat

    catch it while you can.
    not sure how long this will stay up.

  9. Yeah see, that’s 10,000 times funnier with a theater full of people in the mood for cheese…which maybe tells you about the dangers of spending too much time in a theater full of peole in the mood for cheese.

  10. Dang.
    This is what I get for going out of town.

  11. Wow. Wish I could’ve been there. And it sounds like this one’s a must for our next bad movie marathon day.

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