FF55 - Inglorious Basterds

Intro by John Roderick

When we started Friendly Fire we naively assumed our audience would dutifully watch the movies along with us every week. We only started adding intros once we realized that a majority of our listeners weren't watching the films before they listened to the show and might have needed a little synopsis before we just dove right in. The intros gradually expanded to include some additional context to films that may have been unfamiliar. Then we added some color commentary and some thematic backstory, maybe a little sassafras, a little banjo picking, little rhetorical fallacy, and eventually they morphed into a pitch reel for an animated comedy series we are making for History Channel After Dark called Dank Skipper and is two woke Gilligans.

Inglorious Bastards doesn't need any dramatic backstory or rhetorical fallacy. It has all that and more contained within. In fact, to try to set the stage for this movie would be like sweeping the sidewalk in advance of a major sewage explosion. Tarantino Alternate Universe World War II doesn't bear any resemblance to actual World War II. In fact, he had no reason to set this movie in World War II at all, except that's where Hitler lives and Hitler has become a kind of fictional character for most people, embodying evil and he's got that funny mustache and it is easier to put all the things you hate inside Hitler than it is to leave them out on the table and look at them.

Tarantino could have used his prodigious imagination like he did in the old days when Mr. Pink didn't tip and the Gimp lived in a footlocker and he could have made a movie about a really bad contemporary guy who does unspeakable things and gets revenge-killed by his victims and maybe that would have been actually interesting and made us reflect on our morals and think hard about human nature, but that would have been challenging, so rather than write a whole interesting script he chose to kill cartoon Nazis and a Hitler mannequin in order to provide Schadenfreude for uninteresting people.

Well, enough about me. In case you haven't seen the movie I am going to walk you through the plot so you don't get lost. It is a long movie, but a short path. Our movie opens with Hans Landa, played by the great Christoph Waltz, drinking a glass of milk and talking to a French farmer about life, the universe and everything. This is where we meet our heroine Shosanna. It is a very tense scene and it makes you think that maybe you have lucked out and are at the beginning of a masterpiece. Then Brad Pitt arrives. He is an officer and he puts together a unit of soldiers to go fight the war with unconventional tactics. This unit is special because all the soldiers are Jewish, except for Brad Pitt. It is never addressed why they could not find a Jewish officer to lead this unit. Maybe there were no qualified Jews? Of all the officers in the American Army in alternate universe 1940s I'm sure no one was more qualified to lead a group of Jewish revenge commandos than fake North Carolina Brad Pitt.

Anyway, they call themselves the Inglourious Basterds because there is an Italian war movie from 1978 by that same name which was a shabby remake of The Dirty Dozen and Tarantino obviously saw that movie 20 times where he was working at the video store, so he had his heroes call themselves that because he thought it sounded cool and this is his shabby remake of The Dirty Dozen. It is not a remake of the Italian movie Inglorious Bastards, he just stole the title, but he misspelled it because he really can just do whatever the hell he wants and get away with it. Well, anyway, those Jewish commandos, including the one googly-eyed kid from the American Office who used to date my ex-girlfriend, they scalp Nazis, that's their thing, which is another cool move that Tarantino always wanted to put into a movie, and then did.

After lots of killing Nazis and other plot and stuff we come to a climactic scene where show Shosanna Dreyfus, the strong female lead from the beginning, kills a bunch of Nazis and the Inglourious Basterds are also there killing Nazis and the war, I guess, is one in 1944 when they kill Hitler, meaning that the war ends with the Western allies on the beaches of Normandy and the Soviets on the verge of taking back Ukraine and Belarus, meaning the war ends with both allied armies about equidistant from Berlin on opposite sides of the European continent.

Now, this is a fascinating idea. Well, no way would the Soviet Army stop at Warsaw just because Hitler was dead and the Germans waved the white flag, and if the Russians kept marching to Berlin, even if the Germans surrendered, well what did the Americans and British do? Surely they raced to Berlin, too! Do those armies clash? Does World War III start here? I mean, Tarantino afforded himself plenty of time to tell the story, the movie is 2.5 hours long and, although it is mostly cheeky violence and callow dialogue it feels 5 hours long. Still, we are left with more questions than answers. We are going to give you something you can't take off on today's Friendly Fire as we discuss the 2009 Quentin Tarantino revisionist history film Inglourious Basterds.

Millennial Girlfriend dating B.J. Novak (FF55)

John has a long history with B.J. Novak because B.J. Novak was dating Millennial Girlfriend when she and John met. They met at a party in San Francisco (see RL308 and RL290) and she texted B.J. Novak to ask him a question, partly as a humblebrag to show John who her boyfriend was. When she and John started to date, they went through a period in the early days of their relationship when B.J. Novak was still texting her. When he appeared on the screen in Inglorious Basterds , John was like ”B.J. Novak, eh?” and at the end of the movie when he was the one commander to survive, John definitely had a lot of emotional feelings, way more than Hitler getting shot in the face. Why did B.J. Novak survive? Why did he get to be in this last scene? Why didn’t he die earlier? John was distracted by B.J. Novaks performance in this movie because he kept thinking that B.J. Novak was texting his girlfriend from backstage.

B.J. Novak’s father (William Novak) wrote the Big Book of Jewish Humor. John has been packing up the books in his house recently and his mom said at one point ”You sure have a lot of books about the jews!” - ”I do, mom, I have a little bit of a library about the jews!”

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