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Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Rod Taylor plays Winston Churchill in this Quentin Tarantino film set in an alternate-universe World War II.

Rod's role is a cameo, but it's a cool tribute for him to be included in this film. Tarantino, who wrote and directed the film, is a renowned Rod Taylor enthusiast. Rod filmed his part in Berlin in the autumn of 2008. Brad Pitt headlines the ensemble cast.

Upon the movie's premiere in Melbourne, Australia, Rod received a wonderful mention in an article titled  from the Aug. 3 edition of the The Australian newspaper:

The film includes an unlikely cameo by Australian screen legend Rod Taylor as Winston Churchill. "He's a real hero of mine so it was really great to work with him," [Director Quentin] Tarantino said. "He hasn't been working that much in the last six years, so what was really cool is he's still Rod Taylor and still the great guy he is.

"We'd finish our day shooting in Germany and I'd go into his dressing room with a couple of VBs [Victoria Bitters] and we'd drink them and have a good time."

Here's a synopsis of the gritty film:

Inglourious Basterds begins in German-occupied France, where Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Oscar winner Christoph Waltz). Shosanna narrowly escapes and flees to Paris, where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema. [Taking over from a character named Madame Mimieux.]

Elsewhere in Europe, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) organizes a group of Jewish soldiers to engage in targeted acts of retribution. Known to their enemy as "The Basterds," Raine's squad joins German actress and undercover agent Bridget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) and on a mission to take down the leaders of The Third Reich. Fates converge at the cinema, where Shosanna is poised to carry out a revenge plan of her own.

Tarantino has long been a fan of one of Rod's past "man on a mission" films -- Dark of the Sun. The Oscar-winning director has screened that film during his annual film festival in Austin, Texas.

ROD'S SCENE

Rod-as-Churchill appears almost midway through the film. The scene also includes General Ed Fenech (played by Mike Myers) and Lt. Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender), a British soldier and former film critic.

Hicox enters a room and salutes the general. The stage directions in the script say:

In the back of the room, sitting behind a piano, smoking his ever-present cigar, is the unmistakable bulk of Winston Churchill. Hicox's eyes go to the formidable bulldog behind the piano, who's scrutinizing him behind his cigar. However the man behind the cigar makes no gesture, and the General makes no acknowledgment of the 300-pound gorilla in the room. Which Lt. Hicox knows enough to mean, if Churchill isn't introduced, he ain't there.

Hicox has been called upon because he has run undercover commando operations in Germany and German-occupied territories. He's also a film expert, and the upcoming mission requires knowledge of the German film industry under the Third Reich. Hicox says Goebbels considers the films he's making to be the beginning of a new era in German cinema.

Then there's sudden bellowing from the back of the room ... Churchill demands to know how Goebbels is doing. "Compared to say, Louis B. Mayer... how's he doing?"

Hicox explains how Goebbels is doing. Then, with a puff of cigar smoke, Churchill says, "Brief him."

The general then describes "Operation Kino," including the role of "The Basterds," led by Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and a German actress working for England.

The stage directions include the following, but the film does not:  In the back of the room, the bulldog barks, "Extraordinary woman." The scene closes with the "three British bulldogs" laughing. You can see the laughing in the behind-the-scenes portions of Rod's interview on the DVD (and on YouTube, here).

Upon seeing the movie Rod had lamented, "What ever happened to all of Winnie's dialogue? (Show biz!!)"

 

 

Click for larger view of above

LINKS

IMDb: // Wikipedia

Official film site
with trailers and film clips

The Quentin Tarantino Archives

Facebook

Roger Ebert review

Palm Beach Post article/interview about Rod

Entertainment Weekly: Stars Tarantino helped shine again

First Look: The film's historical characters, including Rod-as-Churchill

 

VIEWER'S GUIDE

"Inglourious Basterds" was released in three different formats on Dec. 15, 2009:

A one-disc DVD package includes extended and alternate scenes, the "Nation’s Pride" film-within-a-film, and the domestic and international trailers.

However, Rod Taylor fans will want to get the two-disc DVD or the two-disc Blu-ray package. Both include all of the above plus a conversation with actor Rod Taylor and a featurette called "Rod Taylor on Victoria Bitters – the Australian Beer." They are wonderful!

You can view them here:

Video clip of Rod's interviews

The clip shows behind-the-scenes and unused footage.

Upon seeing the movie Rod had lamented, "What ever happened to all of Winnie's dialogue? (Show biz!!)"

At least we can see a little more here, and listen to the joy in Rod's voice at his experience making the film.

Rod Taylor interviews on YouTube: Part 1 // Part 2

         
   

www.rodtaylorsite.com