There is a really fascinating through line in all of his movies that as yet, almost no critics have openly explored. It's been a theme on which I have long contemplated writing an entire book; I already have the title. I don't want to divulge either element, because in all likelihood if I do, some other guy who isn't shackled by a $14/hour retail job in a $1000/month city will just usurp it and run with it, and kill the market for my version when it finally gets done in Godard knows how many years.
However, as a small gift on his birthday, I'm presenting a sidebar sliver from what will be my INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS chapter. I don't expect the big man to read this, or even agree with any of it, since that would be imposing a singular reading on a work that contains multitudes. But for those of you like me, who see such interesting threads in the tapestry you begin to worry if Paul Bettany is going to materialize in the room, I think you will enjoy this. I published an earlier version during the glory days of MySpace, so I apologize if there's 23 or so of you who already saw this piece.
A frustrating aftereffect from watching INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is that, since with any Tarantino production, the viewer develops a substantial interest to see films subreferenced within it, sadly, many of them also prove to be among the hardest ones of the near dozens of homages within. And two in particular for me are the most fascinating, because of what they unconsciously lend to reading the film.
HI DIDDLE DIDDLE is a light madcap musical comedy of romance, chicanery, and schemes within schemes, that features one of the few successful sound performances by silent great Pola Negri. Besides's Pola's mention in the "celebrity" game in the basement pub, the film is directly, if briefly referenced, through a phonograph playing the standout number from the film, "The Man with the Big Sombrero," originally performed by June Havoc, rerecorded in French by Samantha Shelton. A promo clip, directed by music video veteran Meiert Avis, even digitally inserts Shelton into the exact scene from the film, where she mimics Havoc's choreography to a T, as you will see in the clips below. I was always dismayed that this neat little item was not included as a bonus element on the soundtrack album or on the home video releases of BASTERDS.
Once you have processed this imagery and information, it's easy to find parallel when in BASTERDS, Col. Landa, who has betrayed the Germans for his own comfort, is himself double-crossed by Raine and marked for good with the swastika. Though there is no "dance of the dead" in this scene, if indeed Tarantino saw ALLONSANFAN, then perhaps by hearing this "raging tarantella" over this sequence, we are to imagine the dead souls of the Jews he killed, the Americans claimed in combat, and the Germans he has turned his back on, all stomping in anticipation of the ultimate traitor getting his comeuppance. Knowing his appreciation for Russ Meyer, as this scene played, I was truly expecting to hear the words of Z-Man Barzell stabbing Martin Bormann in the climax of BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS..."You beg for mercy, while the cries of six million innocents still ring in your ears? They are waiting for you!"
Again, all of this is mere speculation and opinionation. Even if it any of what I suggested were true, Tarantino would likely never admit to any of this, as he has widely held that to reveal what "his truth" is would ruin the creative interpretations that the viewer creates for themselves, which is ultimately his real interest; whatever you got from the movie, you should be allowed to keep that reading if it helped you enjoy it. But subterranean concepts like these demonstrate his skill at not only reassembling diverse influences into a new exciting work, in the same manner that the best hip-hop artists took existing samples to create new musical statements, but also creating interest in the viewer to investigate and experience those very works of influence. And in a climate where most people's idea of classics originate from the '80's, something that makes anyone want to check out anything in Black and White or in a foreign language is a most welcome item.