August 20, 2009, - 1:30 pm

Movie of the Year: “Inglourious Basterds”

By Debbie Schlussel

I wish my brave, tough Holocaust survivor grandfather, Isaac, was alive to see “Inglourious Basterds.”


He would love it even more than I did.  So would my dad.  And they would be cheering and laughing along with me.

Because the movie debuts at Midnight screenings tonight, I am posting this review early, and you’ll note that I was entirely wrong in my expectations for this movie when I first wrote about it, back in February.  The movie is riveting.  It’s fun and serious at the same time.  And it’s thrilling.

It’s not usual that I praise a Quentin Tarantino film or a flick starring Brad Pitt.  I’m not a big fan of either.  But “Inglourious Basterds” is either the exception to the rule or a new beginning (probably the former, at least in the case of Pitt, who is very good here).  After two-and-a-half hours of this fantastic movie, I didn’t want it to end.  I wanted more.  So well done, so interesting, exciting, and suspenseful, it flew by.  Like “The Departed (read my review),” it’s a well-wrapped treasure, with new delights at each uncovered layer.  And a few puzzles, some of which aren’t answered but are designed to make you think.

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this movie.

It’s that well done.  My only regrets are 1) that it’s not a true story; and 2) that no-one in Hollywood has the guts to do an “Inglorious Basterds” with Americans fighting our current enemy:  Muslim invaders who’ve also replaced their friends, the Nazis, as the thugs upon Europe.  If only Abu Steven Spielberg had had the guts to do “Munich” (read my review) like this.

“Basterds” is the story of an American commanding officer, Lt. Aldo Raine (Pitt), from the south and his brigade of Jewish American soldiers sent to France to kill Nazis . . . and, yes, scalp them.  (Several of the actors who play them are Jewish in real life.)  But it’s also the story of Shoshanna Dreyfus, a French Jewish blonde who plots revenge on the Nazis who murdered her family of dairy farmers as they hid.  French actress, Melanie Laurent, who plays her is the real star of this movie, as is the frighteningly creepy Austrian actor, Christoph Waltz, as Nazi Col. Hans Landa.  (Diane Kruger is not bad as a German movie star and double agent.)

Those two stories intertwine to an exciting and fitting conclusion that is almost as satisfying as the famous “Raiders of the Lost Ark” scene, in which Nazis melt after countenancing the spirit of G-d emerging from the Ark of the Covenant.  And it’s very similar.

Yes, this movie is somewhat bloody and graphic (a couple of Nazi scalpings are shown as is a scene of “The Bear Jew” (Eli Roth) wailing on a Nazi’s head with a baseball bat–though that’s only briefly shown).  But the violence is for a reason:  it’s good against evil.  And it’s thoroughly satisfying.  I wish they showed even more.  I don’t apologize for cheering on the killing of Nazis.  They were inhuman.  And the treatment they got in this movie is the same way we should treat all of our enemies, but simply don’t have the guts to do so. It’s fun to see the SS and Gestapo members get well-merited permanent reminders of their days wearing the swastika.

Yes, parts of the movie are implausible and the Hitler actor, Martin Wuttke, doesn’t look as much like Hitler as in more dramatic films.  But this is a Quentin Tarantino film.  It’s gotta be somewhat comedic and funny (though the presence of Mike Myers as a British officer was a little much for me), and this had plenty of those moments (watch for Col. Landa’s pipe).

But it also had many moments of nail-biting suspense.  Will the Americans be found out by the Nazis?  Does Col. Landa recognize the Jew who escaped him years earlier?

It’s all done masterfully and has you rapt at attention.  Every scene was so well done, so interesting and exciting.

And even though the story isn’t true, some of it is based on truth, and I recommend you see the fabulous documentary,  “The Ritchie Boys (will try to post a review of that on this site, soon),” to learn more about real-life Jewish-American immigrants from Europe who returned as undercover U.S. Army sabotage and intelligence specialists. ( One of them, Guy Stern, is a friend of my family, and one of the producers is my lifelong friend, David Karp.)

I don’t want to say much more about “Inglourious Basterds,” because to do so would give away the movie.  But if you are an American who is proud of your country, or a WWII buff, or a Jew or other hater of Nazis who wants to see revenge wrapped in a very well-told story, this is your movie.

It was like reading a great novel on the beach in summer.  The clothes, the sets, the lines, the characters–every attention to detail is so well captured in this attempt at encapsulating German film at the time and many World War II movies that have been done since.

Go see this movie (but don’t take your kids–it’s rated “R” for a reason).  And tell every one else to see it, too.

For me, “Inglourious Basterds” is the movie of the year.  I doubt anything I see between now and New Years Day will top it.

Vengeance is under-rated.  As this movie shows in spades, it’s a thrill.


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52 Responses

Debbie, I loved it just from the clip you posted the other day and I am not much of a movie fan at all.
I wonder where Tarantino got the name “Landa” for the Colonel That’s a Jewish name. Sephardic via Poland or maybe a derivation of Landau.
I hope it comes to Israel or I will have to spring for the Customs duty and get the DVD. My husband’s family escaped Germany. After the War, his young uncle enlisted in the US Army and was sent back to Germany. He was killed in a barracks “accident” by a single gunshot. My mother-in-law has never gotten over it. She and this brother had escaped on a Kindertransport, survive dpart of the Blitz only for this to happen. I cant’ believe the “accident” theory. I’m sure Gunter (great Jewish name, huh?) spoke with a German accent, endearing him to some of the good ol’ boys in his unit.

Meira on August 20, 2009 at 1:48 pm


I’d like to see a flick where we take on the Muslim terrorists (redundant, huh?). They should make a movie where they have Force Recon Marines, Navy Seals and Delta Force operatives form a squad to take on the Rag-Heads!! A suggestion for this squad’s motto (A Megadeth CD) “Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good!”

Jarhead on August 20, 2009 at 2:12 pm

And jarhead, let’s throw in some CIA operatives while we’re at it.

But Deb, I must say when you really love a movie…YOU MEAN IT!

Bob Porrazzo on August 20, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Look forward to the movie but I hate to say The Departed was terrible. I may have liked it if I knew beforehand it was a comedy but for trying to be a drama? Fell flat on its face.

Hurricane on August 20, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Hurricane, if you can tell me what Inglourious Basterds has to do with The Departed, maybe I won’t think you are one incredibly stupid individual.

    Mark on August 20, 2009 at 2:59 pm

      uh, Hurricane was simply referring to Debbie’s praise of The Departed in the article above. geez

      rountry on August 20, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Geez for me to watch brangelina it’s got to get high praise. I like some violence to my enemies, so I’ll give it a chance.

Friend of mine hated Watchmen and echoed Debbies bad review of it. Glad I didn’t waste time and money on it.

Joe on August 20, 2009 at 2:39 pm

I like Quentin Tarantino films…. they’re always interesting exercises in gore and violence even if some of them misfire. This one is definitely his best to date – and it has a compelling moral message. I’d like to have seen it transplanted to the present with our boy fighting Islamist savages. Hollywood however, is too politically correct to make such a film.

NormanF on August 20, 2009 at 3:05 pm

I dislike Quentin Tarantino films. Being a movie making person, I get extremely intimidated by “good” movies. Especially ones by Tarantino.

Yup, I am the kind of “backwards” person that gets thoroughly excited and satisfied seeing movies that is promoted and said to be the “movie of the year” but backfire tragically. It inspires me to go fourth and someday make much, much better things in the future. Knowing that there will always be crap out there in the film industry. Not to mention, by “respectable” directors.

I hope we’re not going to praise Quentin as a god-like genius from now on… fingers crossed.

But I trust your judgment on this, Debbie. I always enjoy reading your reviews!

Phil D. on August 20, 2009 at 3:21 pm

I was dreading that it was going to be like Jerry Lewis’ horrible “Which Way To The Front”, but it looks like this one is a winner – real “Dirty Dozen” or “Where Eagles Dare” type of action with a bit of nudge-wink humor. Looking forward to it – and taking my boys (they’re teenagers, don’t worry) to see it tomorrow afternoon!

mysteron09 on August 20, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Damn Mark, who’s the incredibly stupid one here?

Larry on August 20, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Looks ruthless, I’m there. I know that the Muslim terrorist is a cliche only in real life, but they’ll get their Hollywood treatment sooner or later, hopefully in the Tarantino style.

Bosch Fawstin on August 20, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Debbie, I’m curious to know what your reaction was to Paul Verhoeven’s movie Black Book. Did you see it?

JC: It was okay. Not bad. DS

jiminy cricket on August 20, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Sorry about the avatar. I don’t know how it got there. How do I get rid of it?

    jiminy cricket on August 20, 2009 at 4:49 pm

the main problem with Tarantino films is he likes the long drawn out monologues to hear his words spoken. Then shows it to you from every angle possible so a 2 minute speech is 20 minutes of repetitive lines. As in “Death Proof”, after 15 minutes I was ready to kill the actress’s repeating the exact same thing over and over, Kurt Russell couldn’t kill them soon enough. Stop talking and start doing should be his motto.

other wise the action and violence is always over the top.

ender on August 20, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Killing Nazi’s-always a fun time 😉

mindy abraham on August 20, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Where did my comment go? I thought it was mildly interesting.

A1: No idea. None of your comments were removed. I always enjoy them. Pls. try reposting it. DS

A1 on August 20, 2009 at 11:58 pm

I look forward to seeing this.

Despite the splatter, Tarantino has a knack for compelling – and funny dialogue, something that is as rare as rocking horse poop in movies these days.

tempus fugit on August 21, 2009 at 12:33 am

Beware of Backlash!!! The only reservation I have is that the antisemites will come creeping out of the woodwork and say “See, the Jews were just as bloodthirsty as the Nazis were….” and “Look at how brutal the Jews could be if given half a chance – scalping?” and “Of course, Jewish vengeance and brutality are well known – citing the Palestinians and how they wreaked vengeance of the Baltic and Polish people”…” and “I’m sick and tired of the Jews always presenting themselves as victims…”

Lowell Blackman on August 21, 2009 at 6:30 am

    I completely agree. I saw the movie tonight and although I enjoyed it, I was completely overwhelmed by the fuel it was providing for the ignorant who believe what they see in fiction, and in this film, they are given images of jews that support some of the worst stereotypes (i.e., blood libel type) of Jews. the woman burning saying something like “this is vengeance jewish style” or something similar was horrifying. It’s bad enough that we have to deal with the reality of deaths in Gaza being used as “proof” of generalized beliefs about the horrors of the Jews and Israel. The film is dangerous. I also think this week’s Torah reading about justice (Shoftim parshah) makes such ideas of vengeance beneath us.

    B: Are you kidding me? You’re lecturing me about what the Torah says, but you post a comment on my site on the Jewish Sabbath? Please–the women who talked about “vengeance Jewish style” was killing Hitler, Himmler, and Goebbels. That you have a problem with that is distressing and the reinforces the real stereotype people have about Jews–that they are weak. This movie tells that truth–that we are tough and will kill our enemies when we have the means. The Torah clearly says, if someone comes to kill you, kill him first. If only the Nazis were killed this way and stopped so 11 million people weren’t murdered in cold blood. WAKE. UP. DS

    Binah on August 22, 2009 at 5:22 am

Debbie, Thanks for the review. Your recommendations are always good. I look forward to seeing this one. I finally saw your highly recommended movie “The Boy in Striped Pajamas.” What a fantastic movie!! The only problem is that I cannot find it in Blu-Ray.

PDMac60 on August 21, 2009 at 10:24 am

Sorry but Tarantino and Pitt will never see one cent of my money.

Joeseph on August 21, 2009 at 11:50 am

I am a proud American, a WW2 buff and a great supporter of Israel. I will never watch this piece of trash movie. Tarantino and Pitt will not see one cent of my money either. If he wanted to make a statment there are much more contemporary issues that he could of addressed with his “bully pulpit” intead of this easy one. Boring and far from movie of the year. Sorry Debbie, love your blog!!!!!

mdreb on August 21, 2009 at 1:18 pm


I just might check this one out, being a WWII buff and all. But, a good movie story that would be based on true accounts would be one about the British Army’s Jewish Brigade, that sent out vengence squads to hunt down Nazis that had gone underground during the Allies post war occupation.

Jeff on August 21, 2009 at 1:39 pm


Didn’t you condemn “Watchmen” (also R-rated) for its gratuitous violence. Isn’t scalping gratuitous violence?

F: The violence–including the two scalpings they show–in this movie is nothing compared to the violence in “Watchmen.” But as you well know, I said the violence in “Watchmen” was gratuitous, overtly gruesome for shock value’s sake, and it wasn’t necessarily the good people versus the bad in the violence balance. Nice try, but no cigar. DS

Fleiter on August 21, 2009 at 1:57 pm

I’m off to catch it during matinee time tomorrow. I wasn’t aware of the complete plot (didn’t know the Americans were Jewish) so that definitely adds a bit of spice to the film (considering the Holocaust).

But what a brilliant idea you have – to make a movie about Americans who seek revenge against the ilk of bin Laden and the rest of his cronies.

I had actually dreamt once that bin Laden never got caught and it was ten years after 9/11 when some creepy guy appeared on a ragged looking horse in broad daylight and charged up the steps of the Capitol building in front of onlookers and lawmakers. He pulled out a sack and threw it on the white steps, and bin Laden’s bloody head rolled out. The horseman in my dream reminded me of something creepy from a horror movie, but imagine that being a scene in such a movie you’ve proposed here.

Steve Harkonnen on August 21, 2009 at 2:06 pm

I can’t stand Brad Pitt. Probably wouldn’t be so bad if the moron would just keep his mouth shut and act. But, I am looking forward to seeing this movie. I love any pro american movie idea, and with the far left in Hollywood, there aren’t many out there these days.

Someone in Hollywood should grow a pair and do a movie about beating the crap out of the radical muslims…Pretty sad when the closest thing we have to that is “Team America”…See what I mean?

Tony P. on August 21, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Why Brad Pitt? Why not Billy Bob Thorton with a REAL southern accent?

To Joseph, you are such a tightwad.

Edward on August 22, 2009 at 12:58 pm

The movie is unfortunately fantasy.

However American Jewish soldiers killing nazi filth in WW2, is true.

In fact three Jews received the Congressional Medal of Honor for their deeds in WW2.

– Ben L. Salomon

So jan, you inbred sack of shitler, what did your father do in WW2? Run to surrender unconditionally to the US, UK, to avoid surrendering to their fellow socialists, the commies?

I hope you enjoy eating your heart out knowing that the Israelis are NOT the unarmed Jews of WW2 nazi filth infested europe.

E: Thanks for this response to Jan’s utter bullcrap, anti-Semitic comment, which has been deleted. Many, many Jews not only served in WWII but were heroes, including my friend Benno Levi. Whoever says otherwise is a liar. DS

Edward on August 22, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Well, I wasn’t too interested in it but if it has Debbie’s seal of approval I will see it. Can’t really remember a Brad Pitt movie I was enthralled with – wait, Debbie said that too 😉

Bill B. on August 23, 2009 at 12:53 am

Gee Brad…you are a moron that is kept alive because we have people willing to die for your sorry no account government loving a@@. Get a life…preferably somewhere else…

Dusty on August 23, 2009 at 9:56 am

I am of Jewesh decent and I am not proud of this film. We have to be better than others who resort to terrorist activity. Though this movie is somewhat entertaining, I believe it certainly sends the wrong message about avenging the wrongs committed against the Jewish people. However, I didn’t expect much more from a typical violent Tarantino piece of work. I carry a weapon for my employment and think realistically about the responsibility; and violent fantasy flicks certainly influence the minds of our young people.

J: So, you are saying that American soldiers who fought back against Nazis (whose allies attacked us first–remember Pearl Harbor?) are “terrorists”? PUH-LEEZE. It’s quite apparent you did NOT see the movie. DS

James on August 24, 2009 at 12:39 am

Will I saw it today and have to give 2 thumbs up. As with Kill Bill I found myself laughing (as did much of the audience) and the violence but I would say it is a wonderful rendition of WW2 history – as it should have been.

Bill B. on August 24, 2009 at 2:22 am

Debbie Schlussel wrote:

“The Torah clearly says, if someone comes to kill you, kill him first. If only the Nazis were killed this way and stopped so 11 million people weren’t murdered in cold blood”

I agree that Jews, like any other good people, have the right to defend themselves with deadly force and any means possible. But why didn’t the Jews do so against the Nazis and the Nazi collaborators in Germany, Austria, Poland, etc.?

H: That’s a false assertion. Jews were not allowed to own guns or weapons. But the Jews that could defend themselves did. I wrote a lot about the MANY Jewish resistance and partisan groups who did fight back and killed Nazis. Read this entry and the books noted therein (despite the URL, the entry is actually mostly not about the movie “Defiance”)”

Hesperado on August 24, 2009 at 3:45 am

Oh, so Inglorious Basterds was rated R for a reason, but Watchmen wasn’t?

Bex on August 24, 2009 at 7:37 am

I liked this movie a lot more than I thought I would. The audience I was part of laughed at all the right moments and cheered at the end.

My favorite line: “You don’t have to be Stonewall Jackson to know that you can’t fight a battle in a cellar!”

snapcrackle&pop on August 24, 2009 at 9:20 am

James, “IG” is rated “R” – not for children or adults who can’t differentiate fantasy from reality.

Edward on August 24, 2009 at 11:33 am

James, “IB” is rated “R” – not for children or adults who can’t differentiate fantasy from reality.

DS- I noticed my typo “IG” -> “IB” – Please delete my previous comment to James.

Edward on August 24, 2009 at 11:37 am

Debbie Schlussel,

Thanks for the link and the added information. I knew vaguely about a Jewish resistance, but didn’t realize the extent of it. I suppose one reason why it failed ultimately to save the Jews from the Holocaust was the way the Nazis were able to impose so much control (including the gun laws) long before rounding them up, thus effectively pre-empting them from organizing para-militarily to a sufficient degree when the signs were in the air of a change against them. Also, would it be fair to say that Jewish societies in Germany and elsewhere in Europe prior to the Nazi movement (say pre-1920s) did not have a para-military consciousness or template or paradigm as do, for example, Islamic societies inherently as part of their culture?

Hesperado on August 24, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Saw the movie yesterday and agree with DS review. The movie was very entertaining and educational. The movie was fictional but the murder of 11 Jews by Hitler’s Nazi followers is an undeniable truth.

Hesperado makes a very important point, “I suppose one reason why it failed ultimately to save the Jews from the Holocaust was the way the Nazis were able to impose so much control (including the gun laws) long before rounding them up, thus effectively pre-empting them from organizing…


Bonzer Wolf on August 28, 2009 at 11:34 am

Two minds that think as one! I read the review after seeing the movie–and you expressed my sentiments, exactly. I cheered, along with the audience, when the movie theater went up in flames and the “Bear Jew” mowed down Hitler, Goebels and the rest, while the inferno enveloped them.

Stephen Rittenberg on August 28, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Condemning Watchmen for violent content and at the time praising Inglorious Basterds is somewhat questionable. The movie Watchmen has aesthetesized violence for entertainment’s sake, as does IG, whereas the original Watchmen comic had violence as a storytelling tool. Of course, the movie still carries the same message in the story, but the violence is depicted with a more entertainish touch. IG, on the other hand is gourgeous and witty, but has very little to tell.

Of course, I’m not insinuating there is anything profoundly bad in entertaining violence. Whatever works. I find Debbies hilariously ideological way of reviewing movies most entertaining.

Jay on December 16, 2009 at 9:44 am

Its interesting that you love a movie thats so violent when you derided the Watchman for THE EXACT SAME THING. But then again, im forgeting you only liked this movie beacause it supports your ridiculous and narrow minded views, not beacause it was a good movie.

Also a quick question, do you think this movie is appropriate for children?

ihavenomouthyetimustscream on December 31, 2009 at 12:06 pm

I have been reluctant to watch the movie, especially once I heard about the scalping. My grandson, who is 21, said it is a well made movie but he had the feeling Tarentino was mocking the audience, as if to tell them, hey you’re as bad as the Nazis. But if you recommend I will give it a try.

Vicki on February 23, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Wow, this movie really flew over your head, didn’t it? The besterds are called that for a reason, they’re just as inhuman as the soldiers they kill.

terminus on May 21, 2010 at 10:17 am

I’m pretty sure Debbie is a nazi.

Charles Xavier on June 3, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    What an intelligent & witty comment on the subject matter.

    “When you have no basis for argument, abuse the plantiff.”…Cicero

    That’s all you got, “Professor Dreck?” Hopefully, Hugo Stiglitz pay you a visit soon. Only a regressive would post such an idiotic comment on a movie review. A regressive or a Ru Paul voter.

    Con Chef (NB) on December 7, 2011 at 11:23 pm

How very sad of you, Deborah, to indulge in such base hatred. I really want to like you, though I’m finding it to be quite the task.

Greg on December 8, 2011 at 6:01 am

filthy jew getting thrills over a movie showing some faggot jew actors killing unarmed nazis, too bad its not real right you jew fuck. nazism will come again and all you jews will get what you deserve

SIEGHEIL on August 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm

I had the PRIVILEGE of attending the UK premier of Inglorious Basterds! Having seen the trailers i had high hopes but had doubts due to a string of self indulgent films (c’mon lets be honest, self indulgence is his tarantinos middle name)

I was surprised to find though that he had pulled the cat out of the bag with this one. The film is rich with interesting dialogue, Perfect timed comedy with a dash of brutal assassination.

The crowning glory of this film though lies with Christoph Waltz whom no fault or error can be found. He manages to create a real tension in the audience whilst remaining quite “theatrical” (couldn’t think of a better word). He definitely deserved his prize at Cannes

Susu on January 4, 2015 at 10:12 am

Mrs. Schlussel, there are neo nazis on this website. Why are they bothering you?! I hate seeing Neo Nazis. They’re harassing you. At least they’re not hijacking your site.

Robyn on November 17, 2016 at 3:45 pm

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