Tarantino Reveals the Films That Inspired Inglourious Basterds

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Having undoubtedly seen thousands of movies in his time, Quentin Tarantino is no stranger to the art of the homage — in fact, certain detractors would say that he’s made a career out of it. To give credit where credit is due, Tarantino has proudly (or maybe brazenly) raised a well-exercised middle finger to his naysayers and divulged a handful of the cinematic influences at work in Inglourious Basterds. We suggest that you add these films to your queue.

Initial inspiration: Tarantino spent long hours watching old WWII movies such as Hangmen Also Die! and O.S.S. before he felt confident enough to embark on his own project. “They were fun and thrilling and exciting and, most amazingly, they had a lot of comedy in them, which really made an impact on me,” he explains. “I mean, for every movie with a sadistic Nazi, there’s one with a Nazi who’s more of a buffoon or a figure of ridicule.”

Opening scene: The first appearance of SS Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) at the LaPadite farm mirrors that of the first appearance of Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) in The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly. Both feature a kitchen table, a spaghetti western vibe, a sense of impending doom, and a nickname. Compare: TGTBTU vs. Inglourious Basterds

Character study I: Tarantino set up a list of movies about “people fighting behind enemy lines” for Melanie Laurent to watch in preparation for her role as Shoshanna Dreyfus. “The first movie I always had in mind was Operation Amsterdam with Peter Finch and Eva Bartok, even though Shosannah became a very different sort of character in our film,” he explains.

Character study II: As the lieutenant who receives his orders from Mike Myers, Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender) is the linchpin to the western-style bar shoot-out halfway through. For this, Tarantino had him watch George Sanders movies from the ’40s in order to channel the actor’s “highly articulated speech and woody manner.” Compare: The Saint vs. Inglourious Basterds

Character study III: The double-agent with a lot of foot (as well as face) time, Bridget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) was inspired in part by the career of singer-turned-actress Ilona Massey (also known as the poor man’s Marlene Dietrich). In the ‘40s spy flick International Lady, Massey wears almost the same outfit that Kruger does in the movie.

Bar Scene: Tarantino was stumped on how to exactly shoot the shoot-out and was left unsatisfied with his first attempts. For ideas, he turned to the “seductive, opulent style” of Josef von Sternberg. “It was the kind of luxurious camera move that I imagined Von Sternberg would’ve done, except now I was behind the camera,” he explains. “I figured, if I’m gonna shoot actresses in an exquisite ’40s style, who better to look to for inspiration?” Compare: von Sternberg vs. Tarantino.