In last week's Face-Off column
, versatile actors Josh Brolin and Jeremy Renner traded blows. While I wound up finding them to be evenly matched, more of you seemed to think Renner deserved the win.
This weekend, George Clooney gathers an all-star group of WWII soldiers to venture behind enemy lines and liberate valuable art from the Nazis in THE MONUMENTS MEN
. Let's look at another pair of terrific WWII "guys on a mission" movies, Quentin Tarantino's INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS and the manly 1967 classic THE DIRTY DOZEN.
Lt. Aldo "The Apache" Raine (Brad Pitt) and his squad have a unique mission: go behind enemy lines and strike fear into the Nazi regime by slaughtering and scalping as many German soldiers as possible. Meanwhile in occupied Paris, young Jewish theater owner Shosanna agrees to hold the premiere of Goebbels' latest Nazi propaganda film, while secretly scheming to take revenge on the Germans. Unbeknownst to Shosanna, Raine and his team are also planning to attack the theater that very same night with an assignment to assassinate the attending upper echelon of the Third Reich, including Hitler himself. Besides a series of misfortunes, the primary obstacle in their success is the event's head of security, the cunning Col. Hans "The Jew Hunter" Landa (Christoph Waltz), the man responsible for the death of Shosanna's entire family.
As D-Day approaches, cynical Major Reisman (Lee Marvin) gets “volunteered” by his superiors to take a squad behind enemy lines, with the goal of attacking a gathering of high-ranked German officers while they’re enjoying a little R&R. It’s a suicide mission made that much more suicidal by the troops he’s given to command: a selection of psychopathic prisoners sentenced for rape, murder, robbery and various other nasty things. With the possibility of reprieve as their only motivation, Reisman has to whip the grimy cretins into shape within a reasonably timely manner, or the opportunity to disrupt the Nazi hierarchy will be lost.
Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Til Schweiger, Daniel Bruhl, Melanie Laurent
Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas, John Cassavetes, Donald Sutherland, Jim Brown, Ernest Borgnine, Richard Jaeckel, George Kennedy, Robert Ryan, Clint Walker
Quentin Tarantino, who also directed RESERVOIR DOGS, PULP FICTION, JACKIE BROWN, KILL BILL vol. 1 and 2, DEATH PROOF and DJANGO UNCHAINED
Robert Aldrich, who also directed WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?, HUSH... HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE, THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX, THE LONGEST YARD, TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING, THE FRISCO KID, and KISS ME DEADLY (which features a glowing suitcase MacGuffin that inspired PULP FICTION's mystery briefcase)
1. Lt. Aldo Raine: "When you join my command, you take on debit. A debit you owe me personally. Each and every man under my command owes me one hundred Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps. And all y'all will git me one hundred Nazi scalps, taken from the heads of one hundred dead Nazis. Or you will die tryin'."
2. Lt. Aldo Raine [to captured German officer]: "You probably heard we ain't in the prisoner-takin' business, we in the killin' Nazi business. And cousin, business is a-BOOMIN'."
3. [Aldo is carving a swastika into a German soldier's forehead]
Sgt. Donny Donowitz: "You know, Lieutenant, you're getting pretty good at that."
Lt. Aldo Raine: "You know how you get to Carnegie Hall, don't ya? Practice."
4. Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz: "Say 'auf wiedersehen' to your Nazi balls!"
5. Col. Hans Landa: "Oooh, that's a bingo! Is that the way you say it? 'That's a bingo?'"
Lt. Aldo Raine: "You just say 'bingo.'"
6. Lt. Aldo Raine [carving a swastika in Landa's forehead]: "You know somethin', Utivich? I think this just might be my masterpiece."
1. [Reisman instructs Donald Sutherland's convict how to impersonate a general]
Reisman: "You've seen a general inspecting troops before haven't you? Just walk slow, act dumb and look stupid!"
2. Capt. Kinder [evaluating the troops]: "Along with these other results, it gives *you* just about the most twisted, anti-social bunch of psychopathic deformities I have ever run into! And the worst, the most dangerous of the bunch, is Maggott. You've got one religious maniac, one malignant dwarf, two near-idiots... and the rest I don't even wanna think about!"
Reisman: "Well, I can't think of a better way to fight a war."
3. [Reisman and his second-in-command watch the convicts training]
Reisman: "What do you think, Sergeant?"
Sgt. Bowren: "I think you'll do just fine, sir. "
Reisman: "Don't give me that! I said what do you think?"
Sgt. Bowren: "I think the first chance one of those lovers gets, he's going to shoot the Major right in the head... sir."
4.[Reisman getting chewed out by his superior]
Maj. Gen. Worden: "This war was NOT started for your private gratification, and you can be damned sure it's not being run for your personal convenience, either! "
5. Reisman: "Kill any officer in sight."
Franko (John Cassavetes): "Ours or theirs?"
Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing
Oscar winner for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Christoph Waltz)
Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture (Drama), Best Director, Best Screenplay (Motion Picture)
Golden Globe winner for Best Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz)
Oscar nominations for Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (John Cassavetes)
Oscar winner for Best Sound Effects
Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor (John Cassavetes)
Tarantino wanted Leonardo DiCaprio to play Col. Hans Landa
Jean Reno was offered the role of Perrier LaPedite
Adam Sandler was originally approached to play Donnie "The Bear Jew" Donowitz
Natassja Kinski was pursued for the role of Bridget von Hammersmark
Simon Pegg was cast as Lt. Archie Hickox but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts
David Krumholtz was initially going to play Pvt. Hirschberg (the role went to Samm Levine)
Maggie Cheung and Cloris Leachman (who appeared in Aldrich's KISS ME DEADLY) filmed scenes that were deleted from the final cut
Actors including Eddie Murphy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen were all supposedly in talks for roles at various points during the script's evolution (though Tarantino has dismissed some as "internet rumors")
John Wayne was first offered the role of Major Reisman
Jack Palance rejected the role of Maggott, which went instead to Telly Savalas
Before DJANGO UNCHAINED, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS was Tarantino's biggest film at the domestic box office, making $120 million. It made an additional $200 million from foreign territories.
THE DIRTY DOZEN made $45 million at the domestic box office in 1967 (on a reported cost of just over $5 million). Adjusted for inflation, that's today's equivalent of more than $310 million! International box office figures are not available, but it's probably a safe assumption that its worldwide total (inflation-adjusted) would push past that of BASTERDS.
THE DIRTY DOZEN remains one of greatest testosterone-fueled war movies, an undeniable classic filled with memorable performances from all-time macho guys like Marvin, Bronson, Savalas and Cassavetes. It is arguably the quintessential “guys on a mission” movie, and carried powerful influence on any ensemble action movie that followed -- one could even safely speculate that INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS wouldn't exist without it.
But Tarantino's increasingly adept penchant for quotable dialogue, unforgettable characters, verbal showdowns, shocking situations and elegantly intertwining narratives all give BASTERDS the edge. The film transcends the "guys on a mission" subgenre as Tarantino puts his distinctive storytelling stamp (and some historical revisionism) on what is ultimately much less of a commercial action movie, and more of a passionate love letter to cinema itself.