Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Inglorious Bastards (1978)

Incredibly Far From Glory

- The Inglorious Bastards (1978) - or "That Bloody Armored Train" or "Counterfeit Commandos" or "Deadly Mission" or "G.I. Bro" or "Hell's Heroes" or more, depending on what version of the film you are watching - saw a rise in attention by the release of Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (2009). Unlike the similarity between the two films' titles may suggest, outside of the fact that the central characters of both films are a group of misfit soldiers in a French World War II setting, there is little to compare this 1978 Italian-made The Inglorious Bastards from the 2009 Quentin Tarantino-made Inglourious Basterds.

This B-movie spaghetti war film takes us to a mostly NAZI-occupied France in World War II where a handful of American soldiers are on their way, via a truck convoy, to the nearest military prison (or noose) for a variety of crimes. In a glorious stroke of luck, five of these inglorious bastards survive a German air attack on the convoy (even though the German army had no air force to speak of by the time any American soldiers would have landed in France) and head for neutral Switzerland, only to end up participating in a French Resistance raid.

The Inglorious Bastards is a pretty bad movie, though it does stand out as better than most B-movie spaghetti war films. It is a Dirty Dozen (1967)-style shoot'em'up action film that ends up not very spectacular at all (although there are some scenes on top of a moving train that is reminiscent of 1983's Octopussy) and tries to be poignant now and then, humorous failing with every attempt. Certainly not historically accurate, The Inglorious Bastards features a few elements that stand out as definitely not of the World War II era: side burns, long hair, and handlebar mustaches specifically did not often make it into the ranks of the United States Army in the 1940s.

The cinematography and production values put the film a few steps ahead of much of the spaghetti war film genre but everything is still very cheap, looking and feeling like the film was made in 1968 as opposed to its actual 1978 release. But that is not all: the acting is also awful. Fred Williamson is easily the strongest member of the cast because of his extremely affable tough guy persona but the rest of the cast members seem to either overact, looking like clowns, or are about as animated as a shipwreck - Peter Hooten is especially bad, managing to both overplay and over-underplay his role from scene to scene.

But The Inglorious Bastards does include a fairly high body count, a lot of unintentional B-movie humor, a monsoon of machinegun fire, and a river full of naked fräuleins. If all of that is enough to do it for you, then I suggest you have at The Inglorious Bastards.

CBC Rating: 4/10

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