. . . or ONCE UPON A TIME IN NAZI OCCUPIED FRANCE. This WWII daring-mission/revenge pic (imagine if Sergio Leone made THE DIRTY DOZEN/’67) has already been so over-masticated there’s little profit in piling on. (Hey, Quentin, we get the film references, already.) With it’s OTT violence, fact-flaunting history & winking anachronisms, it’s Tarantino’s most entertaining pic since JACKIE BROWN/’97. But has QT ‘jumped the shark?’ He barely individualizes his ‘traife 8'* and hardly bothers to parse their missions. He now relies on his signature over-extended, off-the-point dialogue for tension & suspense; turning the screws until something pops . . . or implodes. Commercially, the film was profitable, but how weary, stale & flat he’s become. The tavern sequence is a particular bust; and do the Brits deserve such insulting treatment? Perhaps QT only knows his characters from watching other films, so they never seem very alive. Compare this to Billy Wilder, who caustically displays more depth, wit, implied savagery and knowledge of Europe, Nazis & soldiering when he takes a moment to show Otto Preminger putting on his boots to take a superior’s phone call in STALAG 17/’53 than you’ll find in this entire film. *'traife,' hebrew for unclean.
READ ALL ABOUT IT: For a real WWII spy story that tops most fiction, try Ben Macintrye's just published amazing tru-life tale OPERATION MINCEMEAT. Hollywood made a censored version of the story, THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS/'56, but it's never been out on DVD.