So far over this press tour, we’ve learned about his 20 favorite recent films (including Woody Allen’s “Anything Else”!) and 20 favorite movie posters, but Quentin Tarantino still saved plenty of his top fetishes for the film itself, finding unexpected ways to insert Samuel L. Jackson’s baritone narration and linger on Diane Kruger’s feet.
There’s another notable nod in “Inglourious Basterds” that’s been less discussed: the one to Rod Taylor and his 1968 war film “Dark of the Sun,” rechristened “The Mercenaries” in the U.S.
Directed by legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff, “Dark of the Sun” is one of those burly “men-on-a-mission” movies that teamed “The Birds” star Taylor with Jim Brown to protect the residents of a Congolese town and collect the region’s valuable supply of diamonds. Tongues were already wagging about what impact the film would have on Tarantino’s WWII epic when it played at the QT Fest in Austin in… 2001. (Four years later, Tarantino would show 1959’s “Four Desperate Men” starring Aldo Ray, whose name has been reworked into the name of Brad Pitt’s character.)
The answer’s turned out to be somewhat little in terms of content — though Eli Roth told HitFix that “Basterds”‘ machine gun finale was inspired by the one in “Dark of the Sun,” which is far more action-packed, with a climactic fight sequence that needs to be seen to be believed (it was critically dinged at the time for violence and, hey, stretching history). “Inglourious Basterds” does steal two things wholesale, “Sun”‘s theme for its soundtrack and Taylor to play Winston Churchill during a scene where the British discuss a plan to help the Americans. Michael Fassbender reports that working with Taylor was one of the highlights of his experience, saying, “[Taylor]’s such a beautiful man, just so sweet and generous and it was just a real privilege and honor to be in a scene with him.” It’s probably safe to say the honor was all Quentin’s.