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.
Filed under: Miscellaneous