Saturday, May 29, 2010

Inglorious Bastards

Eagles Over London
The Italian director Enzo G Castellari, a specialist in the war genre dubbed "macaroni combat" by the Japanese, owes his cult status to Quentin Tarantino, a devoted fan ever since his days behind the counter in an LA video store. Tarantino's Oscar-winning Inglourious Basterds was inspired by Castellari's Quel maledetto treno blindato (1978, aka The Inglorious Bastards) and this DVD of the Italian's most celebrated picture, Eagles Over London (aka La battaglia d'Inghilterra), is accompanied by a half-hour conversation between the pair, filmed during a special screening in LA two years ago.

The plot turns on disguised German soldiers infiltrating the British evacuation at Dunkirk in May 1940 and proceeding to plan the destruction of radar stations around London. A celebrated Buñuel actor, Francisco Rabal, plays the Nazi leader, the stiff Czech actor Frederick Stafford is the British soldier who twigs the German plot and Van Johnson plays a senior RAF officer. The action is nonstop, the special effects are all pre-CGI and the movie is wild, touchingly pro-British and sometimes unintentionally comic. Tarantino overdoes it when claiming Castellari's Dunkirk sequence "makes Atonement look like a piece of shit".


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