When audiences filter into their local theatres later this month to see Inglourious Basterds, the seventh film from art/trash flick architect Quentin Tarantino, most of them will be completely unaware of the movie’s not-quite-Hollywood origins.
Tarantino based his epic Brad Pitt starring Second World War fantasy on a gritty, ultra violent 1978 Italian exploitation film called The Inglorious Bastards, directed by legendary eurotrash helmer Enzo Castellari and starring both ex-football hero Fred (The Hammer) Williamson and ex-pat Swedish actor Bo Svenson.
The original film — re-issued recently on blu-ray from Severin Entertainment — remains a cult classic of its kind and Svenson (who, along with Castellari, makes a cameo in Tarantino’s redux) told Metro about why he thinks it still endures in counter culture circles.
“It’s just a great, fun, eccentric action movie,” says the now 68-year-old actor.
“Enzo was actually a wonderful director and unfortunately, very underrated. But Quentin told me he’s been a fan of his work all his life and apparently he’s not alone.”
Svenson is perhaps best known as Joe Don Baker’s successor essaying the role of vigilante sheriff Buford Pusser in the two sequels to the hit 1973 thriller Walking Tall (itself remade in 2004). But as far as his career choices are concerned, he does admit to some regrets.
“I screwed up,” says Svenson, who also starred in Tarantino’s Kill Bill films as a preacher.
“I was starring in real films like The Great Waldo Pepper with Robert Redford before Walking Tall and then, suddenly, I was a B-movie action hero. I went to Italy because the price they were offering was right but then, no one in Hollywood took me seriously anymore. Still, I am thankful for the niche I carved out for myself.”
As far as Tarantino’s loose remake is concerned, Svenson sees it as just another piece of the director’s offbeat, absurdist cinematic puzzle.
“What Quentin is doing with this film is exploring the magical ‘what if,’” he says. “Some might quibble that Hitler was never in Paris just to watch a movie, but how do we know he wasn’t? You have to trust Quentin and just sit back, take his hand and let him take you on this wild, crazy, beautiful ride.”
Red carpet arrival
• There will be a red carpet arrival of director Quentin Tarantino and actor Eli Roth at Canadian premiere of Inglourious Basterds on Wednesday when the film screens at the Scotia Bank Theatre.
• Inglourious Basterds opens in theatres across Canada on Aug. 21.