Quentin Tarantino was considering abandoning the film while the casting search for someone to play Colonel Hans Landa took place, fearing he'd written a role that was unplayable. After Christoph Waltz auditioned however, both Tarantino and Producer Lawrence Bender agreed they had found the perfect actor for the role.
Roughly only thirty percent of the film is spoken in English, the language which dominates the film is either French or German, with a little Italian. This is highly unusual for a Hollywood production.
In a roundtable discussion with Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarantino, Tarantino said that Til Schweiger, being born and raised in Germany, had always refused to put on a Nazi uniform for a film role. The only reason he agreed to for this film, was because he got to kill Nazis.
At the end of each take, actors would face the camera and say "Hello Sally", referring to Sally Menke, the film's editor. This practice has occurred since Quentin Tarantino's previous movies (such as Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), Death Proof (2007)). Inglourious Basterds was the last film by Tarantino to be edited by Menke, whose work was honored in 2010 with her final Academy Award nomination for Best Editing, prior to her death later that year.
Michael Fassbender's performance as Lieutenant Archie Hilcox is layered with irony, due to his real-life. Fassbender was born in Germany to German and Irish parents, and raised in Ireland. Now residing in London with fluency in German as his first language, and English as his second, and a mastery of English accents and dialects. Here he plays an Englishman who goes undercover as a German, and who can speak German fluently, but has difficulty hiding his accent.
Quentin Tarantino intended for this to be as much a war film as a spaghetti western, and considered titling the movie "Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France". He gave that title instead to the first chapter of the film.
Ironically, because Diane Kruger's best known performances were in English speaking films, Quentin Tarantino thought she was an American, and doubted whether she could master the German dialogue and accent. Upon audition, she quickly proved to him that she was a native speaking German.
To prepare for her role, Mélanie Laurent worked as a film projectionist for a few weeks at New Beverly Cinema, projecting mostly cartoons and trailers before shows. The real test set by Quentin Tarantino was for her to screen Reservoir Dogs (1992).
When asked about the misspelled title, Writer and Director Quentin Tarantino gave the following answer: "Here's the thing. I'm never going to explain that. You do an artistic flourish like that, and to explain it would just take the piss out of it, and invalidate the whole stroke in the first place."
DIRECTOR_CAMEO(Quentin Tarantino): In the German propaganda film-within-a-film, "Nation's Pride", directed by Eli Roth, Tarantino voices an American soldier, who says, "I implore you, we must destroy that tower!" A Tarantino dummy also appeared as the first scalped German in the film.
The role of Shosanna Dreyfus' father, Jakob (briefly seen hiding beneath the floorboards in Perrier LaPadite's farmhouse), was played by Patrick Elias, whose father, Buddy Elias, was a first cousin of Anne Frank.
The mock-up posters for the propaganda film "Stolz der Nation" are historically accurate, including a German censor approval stamp, and they are rendered in the style of the film posters of that era, according to the book "Film Posters of the Third Reich".
When asked how he got into the violent, baseball bat-wielding mindset of "The Bear Jew", Eli Roth partially attributed his performance to the historically accurate costumes: "Being in wool underwear will make you want to kill anything." He also stated (in a separate interview) that his girlfriend had secretly added some Hannah Montana (2006) music onto his iPod; when he listened to it, it inexplicably made him able to tap into the violent nature of The Bear Jew.
When Francesca (Julie Dreyfus) mentions former UFA actress Lilian Harvey, Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth) throws a tantrum and screams never to mention that name in his presence. Lilian Harvey had to flee Nazi Germany in 1939 after helping Jewish choreographer Jens Keith to escape to Switzerland.
Eli Roth directed the film-within-the-film, "Nation's Pride". Quentin Tarantino asked Roth to direct the short, and Roth requested his brother Gabriel Roth join him to direct behind a second camera, to which Tarantino agreed. In two days, the brothers got one hundred thirty camera set-ups, and Tarantino was so pleased, he gave Roth a third day that he was originally planning to shoot with Daniel Brühl. Roth got fifty more set-ups the third day, much to Tarantino's delight. The total running time of the short is five minutes and thirty seconds, and was always intended to feel like pieces of a longer film, not a coherent short.
B.J. Novak had to take leave from appearing on The Office (2005) in order to play Private First Class Utivich. His absence on the show was explained by his character going to "Thailand with friends from high school".
When Major Hellstrom reasons out that his card says King Kong (1933), he is giving Quentin Tarantino's analysis of the movie as an allegory of the American slave trade. He explained this analysis in an interview on National Public Radio with Terry Gross.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Quentin Tarantino): (threesome): Tarantino typically has a trio of identical background characters moving together in unison. In this film, it is three German school girls in identical uniforms passing Colonel Hans Landa as he goes down the staircase in the theater.
On German advertisement materials, all swastikas were removed or covered up, as it was unclear to the distributor if the swastikas violated German law (which prohibits the exhibition of Nazi symbols except for purposes such as historical accuracy).
The final cut of the film ran three hours and ten minutes. Before its first public showing, Quentin Tarantino and Sally Menke cut it down to its final length of two hours and thirty-three minutes, in two days.
The dialogue is in English for approximately forty-two percent of the running time, in German for twenty-eight percent, in French for twenty-two percent, and in Italian for one percent. There is a fifty-four-minute stretch, in which less than nine minutes of dialogue are in English, including twenty-five straight minutes in which no English is spoken.
Sergeant Donny Donowitz (The Bear Jew) (Eli Roth) talks about "Teddy Ballgame" in Chapter Two. This is one of the many nicknames for Ted Williams, who was a war hero, who interrupted his baseball career twice to serve in World War II and the Korean War.
When Major Hellstrom (August Diehl) is questioning Hicox's (Michael Fassbender's) accent, he refers to Corporal Wilhelm Wicki (Gedeon Burkhard) as "Lieutenant Munich" and Sergeant Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger) as "Lieutenant Frankfurt", based on their dialects. Burkhard (Wicki) and Schweiger (Stiglitz) are from Munich and the Frankfurt area, respectively, in real-life.
Quentin Tarantino met with Brad Pitt at Chateau Miraval in France, where he lived with Angelina Jolie. They talked about Brad playing the role of Aldo Raine over the course of a night and five bottles of the estate's own Pink Floyd rosé when he accepted the role.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Quentin Tarantino): (deliberate errors): As with all of his films, there are blatant mistakes and errors inserted on purpose. One example of this can be found in the English subtitles of characters speaking in a foreign language. Occasionally, the foreign word is inserted into the subtitle. For example, when Colonel Landa (Christoph Waltz) is speaking to the French farmer, he says "Oui" which is French for "Yes". Instead of the word "Yes" appearing in the subtitle, the word "Oui" appears, despite the fact that the rest of the French dialogue is translated to English.
The peculiar glove guns Donny (Eli Roth) and Omar (Omar Doom) use to breach Hitler's box, are known as Sedgley OSS .38s. They were originally designed as a last-resort weapon for U.S. Navy construction crews in the South Pacific.
At his audition in Berlin, Michael Fassbender inquired about playing Colonel Hans Landa. Quentin Tarantino replied, "Look, man, any guy that gets cast as Heathcliff is not fucking German enough to play my Landa, all right?"
Eli Roth put on thirty-five pounds of muscle to play Donnie Donowitz (The Bear Jew). Roth also learned to cut hair for the role from Producer Pilar Savone's father Umberto at his salon in Beverly Hills, California.
In the film, a group of German soldiers are playing a game where one has to guess what famous name is written on one's forehead. The note on the soldier played by Ken Duken reads Mata Hari, a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who became known for being a double agent for Germany during World War I. This mirrors the role played by Diane Kruger: a famous actress turned double agent for the Allies during World War II.
Quentin Tarantino called Rod Taylor personally to offer him the role of Sir Winston Churchill. When Taylor learned the movie was going to be shot in Germany, he pointed out that Albert Finney lived in England, and had played Churchill to great acclaim in The Gathering Storm (2002). Tarantino replied, "If Rod Taylor turns me down, I'll call Albert Finney." Taylor accepted the part.
At the movie premiere, Joseph Goebbels introduces Frederick Zoller to Emil Jannings (Hilmar Eichhorn), whom Goebbels calls "the world's greatest actor". Emil Jannings was a German-born star of silent movies. During the 1920s, he starred in several silent classics of German cinema directed by F.W. Murnau, including The Last Laugh (1922) and Faust (1926). In 1927, Jannings moved to Hollywood to star in American movies. In 1928, he became the first winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor (and the first person to ever receive an Academy Award) for his work in The Way of All Flesh (1927) and The Last Command (1928). But his Hollywood career ended when talkies came in, as Jannings' thick German accent made him difficult to understand. Jannings returned to Germany, where he co-starred with Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel (1930). During the Third Reich era, Jannings starred in numerous films intended to promote Nazism, including Der Herrscher (1937), Ohm Krüger (1941), and Die Entlassung (1942). Minister of Propoaganda Joseph Goebbels named Jannings as "Artist of the State". (In this movie, Goebbels has Jannings show Zoller the ring given for this award, which Goebbels calls "the highest artistic honor that I give".) After the war, Jannings' film career was ended, due to his association with the Nazis. He retired to a farm in Austria, where he died in 1950.
There was a real unit known as "Masters' Bastards" in World War II. Apart from the obvious rhyming, they earned the name due in part to their fearsome reputation against the Japanese, much like the fictional "Basterds" in Europe.
The character of Kliest is only present as a telephone voice, spoken by Christian Brückner. Similarly, the character of the OSS Commander is only heard as a voice on the radio, played by Harvey Keitel. Christian Brückner provided the German dubbing voice for Keitel in Pulp Fiction (1994).
The title, "Inglourious Basterds", was inspired by "The Inglorious Bastards", the English title of Enzo G. Castellari's The Inglorious Bastards (1978), which is also about a group of American G.I.s wreaking havoc behind enemy lines, although the stories are wholly different in all other respects. (English Title: "The Inglorious Bastards". The Italian title literally translates as "That Cursed Armored Train".) Castellari returned the favor by calling his new movie Caribbean Basterds (2010).
Despite being described as the one who "speaks the least Italian", of the three Basterds to enter the movie theater impersonating Italian filmmakers, it is Private First Class Omar Ulmer (Omar Doom) who has the most believable Italian accent.
The large Nazi eagle displayed in the theater lobby is based on a bronze eagle that was in the Reichs Chancellery in Berlin, by Kurt Schmid-Ehmen. The original Berlin eagle is now in the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.
One of the movie posters shows a bloody German helmet dangling from an equally bloody baseball bat. Typically, one would see the logo "Hillerich and Bradsby Louisville, Kentucky" branded on a bat. However, the city reads "Knoxville, TN", which is Quentin Tarantino's hometown.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Quentin Tarantino): (copyright under title): As with almost all of Tarantino's directed and produced films, the Roman numerated copyright appears during the opening credits, directly under the title of the film. Displaying the copyright info in the opening credits is an homage to films produced in the 1960s and 1970s.
Cloris Leachman originally appeared in the film as Mrs. Himmelstein, an elderly Jewish woman living in Boston. Although filmed, the scenes featuring Mrs. Himmelstein drinking tea with Donny Donowitz (and signing his trademark baseball bat afterward) were cut from the final film. Quentin Tarantino says that he might use the footage in the prequel instead.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Quentin Tarantino): (bare foot fetish): Shoshanna is barefoot during the end of the opening scene when she escapes from Colonel Hans Landa, and during the final scenes in the projection room.
In Legends of the Fall (1994), Brad Pitt played a man who scalped two German soldiers, and got involved with bootlegging. In this film, he played the leader of a group that scalps German soldiers, and mentions a past involvement in bootlegging.
Rumor had it that Harvey Weinstein was trying to force Quentin Tarantino to cut forty minutes of the movie (which ran two hours and twenty-eight minutes) after getting feedback from the Cannes Film Festival. However, Harvey denied this rumor, stating that Tarantino was reorganizing some scenes since he didn't have enough time to completely finish editing the film before sending it to Cannes, since he was given only six weeks to edit, whereas other directors are given normally six months to a year. In fact, the theatrical cut runs five minutes longer than the cut that was premiered at Cannes.
Michael Madsen was originally announced to star as a character named Babe Buchinsky. This character was named for Charles Buchinsky, better known by his screen name Charles Bronson, who starred in The Dirty Dozen (1967), an inspiration for this movie.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Quentin Tarantino): (Mexican standoff): Twice during the scene in LaLouisiane. Once between Archie Hicox, Dieter Hellstrom, and Hugo Stiglitz, and just a few minutes later between Aldo Raine and Sergeant Wilhelm. Raine and Wilhelm also discuss the requirements for a "Mexican standoff".
During his recruiting monologue near the beginning of the movie, Lieutenant Aldo Raine states that he's a descendant of "the mountain man Jim Bridger", who really did have Native American wives. Consequently, his nickname is "Aldo the Apache". In reality, none of Bridger's three Indian wives were Apache (they were, in order, Flathead, Ute, and Shoshone).
The paperback book Shoshanna is reading in the café before Zoller comes in, is apparently a French edition of Leslie Charteris' "The Saint in New York" (first published in 1934). This novel is remarkable in the Saint canon for being extremely grim and violent: the debonair crime-fighter shows a cold and ruthless side as he executes numerous gangland killers in revenge for a murder, something like the mission which Lieutenant Raine explains at the start of the film.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Quentin Tarantino): (name): Sergeant Donnie Donowitz, is part of the "Quentin Tarantino Universe", sharing the last name of the film producer character, Lee Donowitz, in the Tarantino-written True Romance (1993), where Lee Donowitz produced a war film "Comin' Home in a Body Bag". According to an interview Tarantino conducted with Ron Bennington, Donny is Lee's father.
Quentin Tarantino met Mélanie Laurent in three rounds and played all of the characters on the first. On the second one, he shared the lines with her, and the third one, it was dinner face-to-face. During the dinner, he told Laurent, "Do you know something? There's just something I don't like. It's that you're famous in your country, and I'm really wanting to discover somebody." Laurent replied "No, no, no. ... I'm not so famous", and after four days he called and finalized her for the role of Shosanna.
Ennio Morricone was attached to score the film, before pulling out, due to a scheduling conflict with Baarìa (2009). Several of Morricone's songs from other films were sampled in the film instead. He also felt that he would be unable to work efficiently within the amount of time given.
None of the weapons used by the Basterds are American, befitting their status as a clandestine group of military assassins in occupied enemy territory. B.J. Novak discussed in an interview how he and the rest of the cast received training in handling German weapons from a company in Berlin that specialized in technical presentation of German military hardware. The backstory was that the Basterds seized the guns and other armaments from every Nazi they killed and would be able to handle them flawlessly.
Names on the cards from the game played in the bar include: Winnetou, Genghis Khan, Mata Hari, Beethoven, Pola Negri, Edgar Wallace, G.W. Pabst, King Kong, Marco Polo, Brigitte Horney, and Brigitte Helm.
Mike Myers (as General Ed Fenech), a fan of Quentin Tarantino, had inquired about being in the film since Myers' parents had been in the British Armed Forces. In terms of the character's dialect, Myers felt that it was a version of Received Pronunciation meeting the officer class, but mostly an attitude of "I'm fed up with this war and if this dude can end it, great, because my country is in ruins."
The French village of Nadine depicted in the film doesn't really exist. However, on the map shown to Lieutenant Hicox, its location largely corresponds to the real-life town of Nanteuil-le-Haudouin. Also, the word "Haudouin" is still visible on the map, suggesting that it was accidentally left there, while the first part of the town name has been removed and replaced by "Nadine".
Universal Pictures adjusted the film's German publicity website to the German penal law, as the display of Nazi iconography is restricted in Germany. The title has the swastika removed and the steel helmet has a bullet hole instead of the Nazi symbol. The German site's download section was revised to exclude wallpaper downloads that openly feature the swastika. Though the advertisement posters and wallpapers may not show Nazi iconography, this does not apply to "works of art" according to German law, so the film itself is not censored in Germany.
WILHELM SCREAM: The scream appears during two deaths in the film. The first half-second of the sound clip appears about ninety minutes into the movie, and the remainder of the scream appears about twenty minutes later. In the film-within-the-film, "Nation's Pride", the Wilhelm scream can be heard when a soldier is shot and falls from an upper window.
In late 2009, Sir Michael Caine praised Christoph Waltz's performance as Hans Landa, saying it was "the best performance of a villain I've seen in years." Caine even correctly predicted that Waltz would win Best Supporting Actor at the 2010 Academy Awards.
The literary character Sherlock Holmes is referred to at least twice in the film. The first reference is Landa's smoking pipe, which is a Calabash Meerschaum, the exact same one that Holmes used. The other is Landa's line, "A damn good detective. Finding people is my specialty."
Lieutenant Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender) wears the insignia of the British Combined Operations Command, which included forces from all the British services as well as other allied forces as well as the famous Commandos.
At the end of the movie, Lieutenant Raine shoots Landa's driver, Hermann, in the stomach, as evidenced by the angle of his pistol when he fires. When he falls, he orders Utivich to scalp him. Since it can take several minutes, up to a few hours, as evidenced in past Quentin Tarantino movies, to die from a gunshot wound to the stomach, it's entirely possible that Hermann was still alive while being scalped.
In the basement bar scene, one of the enlisted men refers to Karl May and says his character is Winnetou. This is a reference to the western themed adventure books by Karl May (1842-1912). Winnetou was a Native American hero in several of the books. May was one of Adolf Hitler's favorite authors. However, the gesture of touching the heart, and greeting with three fingers, that the man makes, is an anachronism, as it was a signature gesture of Winnetou in the movies from the sixties.
The film in which Fredrick Zoller appeared as himself is hardly a novel concept. Karl von Müller, a Navy Captain aboard the S.M.S. Emden in World War I, starred as himself in a 1932 feature film about his wartime exploits.
At the premiere, Colonel Landa is wearing a golden medal around his neck which covers his tie. This is the Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross, in gold with swords, to recognize non-combat contributions to the Third Reich war effort. Only nine awards were made during the war, and it was actually instituted in October 1944, so it was impossible for Landa to be a recipient. Although, since this movie is a fictional story, set against the backdrop of World War II, the point is rendered moot, considering Tarantino's storytelling capabilities.
In the scene where Hicox is talking to Stiglitz, who is sharpening his knife on a belt, the theme from Dark of the Sun (1968) is playing. Rod Taylor, who portrayed Sir Winston Churchill in this film, played the lead in Dark of the Sun (1968).
In 2005, Quentin Tarantino was quoted as saying that he had written the script, a World War II story, but that he needed to convert it to a shooting script. He said that writing the script and preparing a shooting script were two different things.
In the scene where Lieutenant Aldo Raine is being interrogated by Colonel Hans Landa. Brad Pitt mentions that prior to the war, while home in Tennessee, he had partaken in bootlegging. In Legends Of The Fall (1994), Pitt's character of Tristan Ludlow made a profit as a small time bootlegger.
Archie Hicox's (Michael Fassbender's) uniform: He wears the Commando Green Beret, the Combined Operations badge on his left arm, "No.4 COMMANDO" flashes on his shoulders, and an Intelligence Corps cap badge on his beret. This means he was an Intelligence Corps Officer who passed the Commando Course at Achnacarry and was serving at the time as part of No.4 COMMANDO (A Commando means both a commando trained individual and a battalion sized formation of commando troops). His medals are the Military Cross (an award for bravery in the face of the enemy) and the Africa Star. This means he was in Africa from 1942 to 1943, during which time his conduct earned him the Military Cross.
Although the movie is fictional, it was partially inspired by "Operation Greenup", a real-life mission by the Office of Strategic Services. In February, 1945, three O.S.S. Agents, Frederick Mayer (a German-born American spy), Hans Wijnberg (a Dutch-born Agent, who, like Mayer, was Jewish), and Franz Weber (a former Austrian Wehrmacht Officer), were parachuted into Austria. For several months, Mayer gathered intelligence on the Germans' "Alpine Fortress", by posing as a Nazi Officer and as a French electrician. While staying with Weber's family in Innsbruck, Wijnberg and Weber radioed the intelligence back to O.S.S. operatives in Bari, Italy. When Mayer's cover was blown by a black marketer, he was captured and tortured by the Gestapo, but refused to give up the other two agents. However, General Franz Hofer, commander of the Nazi forces in western Austria, realized the war was lost, and was looking for a way to surrender his forces to the Allies, instead of to the Red Army. He had Mayer brought to his house, and offered to send a message for him to the O.S.S. offices in Bern, Switzerland, through a German Agent. Mayer helped negotiate the surrender of Germany's Austria forces, which took place in Innsbruck on May 3, 1945. Afterwards, Mayer and Wijnberg returned to America. In 2012, they were reunited via a webcam interview for the History Channel documentary, "The Real Inglourious Basterds". Wijnberg died the day after the webcam interview. Weber died in April 2016.
The opening scene in the farmer's cottage has been parodied into a "Grammar Nazi" sketch, where Colonel Hans Landa corrects M. LaPadite's grammatical mistakes to his increasing frustration, while searching for Shosanna Dreyfus.
Bridget von Hammersmark, the German film star and double agent, was partially based on Marlene Dietrich. Although she never served as an overseas agent, Dietrich did work with the Office of Strategic Services in World War II. In 1944, Dietrich made recordings for the O.S.S.'s Morale Operations Branch, as part of the Musak project, a series of musical propaganda broadcasts designed to demoralize enemy soldiers. Dietrich recorded several songs in German, including "Lili Marlene", and made German-language recordings reporting Allied victories and German defeats. For her efforts, Dietrich received the thanks of O.S.S. commander William J. Donovan, and the American Medal of Freedom. Also, during the war, Dietrich's sister and her husband were still in Germany, where they ran a cinema in Belsen that was frequented by German officers. Dietrich and her sister were reunited after the war.
General Ed Fenech's (Mike Myers') uniform: He wears the "No. 2" dress of the British Army, an Officer's Sam Browne belt, the red collar Georgettes of a General. However, the view of his buttons is not clear enough to discern his regiment or corps. His medal ribbons include: either an OBE, CBE or KBE (you cannot tell from the ribbon), Transport Medal 1903 (South Africa or China), 1914 Star (with mention in dispatches), The British War Medal (World War I), the Victory Medal (World War I, with mention in dispatches), The General Service Medal (cannot tell which campaign) and then four more medals that I am unable to trace.
A very fine, but very accurate historic detail in the script, lost to most, occurs whenever German Army (Heer) or Nazi Party Schutzstaffel (S.S.) characters speaks to or of S.S. personnel. The S.S. were not members of the Heer or German Military (Wehrmacht), and used different rank titles, but often wore Wehrmacht rank insignia on their uniforms. Hicox, Wicki, and Stiglitz (when meeting in the basement tavern) and Landa and Hellstrom wore Schutzstaffel (S.S.) uniforms. The Heer and S.S. characters use the actual S.S. rank titles such as Standartenführer, Sturmbannführer, Hauptsturmführer, and Obersturmführer. However, French, German civilian (von Hammersmark) and American and Brit (except when acting as Germans) characters refer to the S.S. characters by the Heer rank equivalents of Colonel/Oberst, Major, Captain/Hauptmann, Senior Lieutenant/Oberleutnant. Regardless of the title spoken, the subtitles always use Heer ranks in English.
In 2008, Til Schweiger (Sergeant Hugo Stiglitz) appeared alongside Johannes Heester (better known as the favorite actor of Adolph Hitler) in the film 1 1/2 Knights: In Search of the Ravishing Princess Herzelinde (2008).
In the scene where Shosanna films her part in "Nation's Pride", Marcel films her at an angle upwards towards the top of a stairway. The same filming style was used in the saxophone solo for the music video for "One Step Beyond" by Madness.
Colonel Hans Landa's speach to Lapadite, which relates Jewish people to rats, is influenced by a real German film, The Eternal Jew (1940), made by the S.S. propaganda team in Poland during World War II. The film was made with the intention of lower the image of Jews troughout Europe, and depicts rats and other animals spreading diseases, that would contaminate the Arian people, if the Jewish Question wouldn't be resolved by their extermination. This horrific concept and aesthetics is a central theme in present days, and was duly criticized by Tarantino in this picture.
If you listen carefully to the background music in some scenes, Quentin Tarantino used the theme song from Dark of the Sun (1968), starring Rod Taylor as a mercenary based in the Congo. Rod Taylor played Sir Winston Churchill in this movie.
Samm Levine: One of the Basterds also played the painter in the background of Adolf Hitler's introductory scene. (Levine admitted this, by posting a picture of himself as the character on his Twitter account at 4:03 p.m. on August 21, 2009.)
In the scene where Bridget von Hammersmark was choked to death after being discovered as a spy, Diane Kruger was almost accidentally really choked. Quentin Tarantino was unimpressed with choking scenes in other movies, in that actors are rarely in any considerable danger while shooting them, and convinced Kruger to be strangled for real, in order to get the scene just right. Fearing that Christoph Waltz would choke her too much or too little, Tarantino decided to literally take matters into his own hands and did the scene himself. In an interview, Tarantino said, "What I said to her was, I'm gonna just strangle you, alright? Full on, I'm gonna cut off your air, for just a little bit of time. We're gonna see the reaction in your face and I'm gonna yell cut." Kruger decided this was reasonable, and let Tarantino sit on top of her and choke her to the point of unconsciousness. Fortunately for Kruger, the shot was accomplished in one take.
Eli Roth and Omar Doom were nearly incinerated filming the fire sequence in the theater. During tests, the flame temperatures reached seven hundred fifty degrees Fahrenheit (four hundred degrees Celsius), and during the take, the set burned out of control, and the temperature of the ceiling above them reached two thousand degrees Fahrenheit (1,093 degrees Celsius). Quentin Tarantino was seated on a crane operating the camera in a fireproof suit, and none of them wanted to back down and ruin the shot. Fire Marshals said that another fifteen seconds of filming, and the steel structure would have collapsed, incinerating the actors. Roth and Doom were treated for minor burns.
In the original ending, Shosanna's movie for the Nazis was supposed to be in French. Mélanie Laurent was the one who suggested to Quentin Tarantino it should be done in English to make the finale more powerful.
The scar on Aldo Raine's neck is never explained. The script hints that Raine survived a lynching, a common punishment in the 1920s and 1930s, but otherwise, it explicitly states that the scar will never be explained.
Quentin Tarantino had all of the actors playing the Basterds go through a day of "scalping training" in preparation for the movie, and told them that the three best practice scalpers would be rewarded with close-ups of them doing just that in the film. One of these moments comes in the last scene, when Private First Class Utivich scalps Landa's driver after Aldo shoots him.
In earlier drafts of the screenplay, Shosanna was a much more active member of the French resistance, sniping at soldiers from rooftops, and even compiling a death list of high ranking Nazi officials to cross off. But when Quentin Tarantino did his "Kill Bill" movies, he worked those plot details into that story, and decided it was redundant, so instead, he decided to make Shosanna a more realistic character, and have her keep a low profile.
The shooting script includes a scene where Raine and his men intimidate the veterinarian into treating Bridget Von Hammersmark's bullet wound by shooting two of the dogs inside their cages. This scene was apparently filmed but cut from the final print, as during the scene with Hammersmark on the table if you look behind her you can see two cages with holes in the wire mesh, blood stains, and dead dogs within.
In the original script, Samm Levine's role was much larger, with Private First Class Hirschberg being one of the primary members of the Basterds. However, in the film, Hirschberg only speaks one line, and he disappears before the closing scenes, with his fate being left unresolved. In interviews, Samm Levine confirmed that Hirschberg survived to the story's end, and written-but-not-filmed closing scenes had him, and other unspecified Basterds, meeting up with Lieutenant Raine and Private First Class Utivich after they settled things with Colonel Landa.
The scene with Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) placing the high-heeled shoe on Bridget von Hammersmark's (Diane Kruger's) foot is a twisted reference to "Cinderella". In the story, the Prince identifies Cinderella by making her try on the glass slipper she lost at the ball. Here, Landa identifies von Hammersmark as the double agent, by making her try on the heel she lost in the bar fight.
The standoff between Aldo and Sergeant Wilhelm during the LaLouisiane scene is similar to a scene in Quentin Tarantino's other movie Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), in which The Bride just finds out she is pregnant and is attacked by a hitwoman. The two have a standoff, in which she makes a deal with the hitwoman to let her go, as she is pregnant. Sergeant Wilhelm makes a deal with Aldo to let him go as he had become a father that night. The difference in the two scenarios, is that The Bride honors the deal, and the hitwoman escapes, while Aldo honors the deal, but Bridget von Hammersmark shoots and kills Sergeant Wilhelm.
Quentin Tarantino continues his tradition of ripping on waiters in this film, by killing the French barmaid in the LaLouisiane tavern shoot-out. (Only two waiters are on-screen in the film, the barmaid being the only one featured exclusively.)
Despite the similarity between the small role of Harvey Keitel in this film, and his role in Pulp Fiction (1994), Eli Roth confirmed that his character is not Winston "The Wolf" Wolf in this film. He jokingly added that Samuel L. Jackson does not narrate under the guise of Jules Winfield.
Similarity between this movie and the movie-within-the-movie: Both have foreign language dialogues displayed as translated subtitles. In case of the movie-within-the-movie (Nation's Pride), this is seen when Private Fredrick Zoller's character speaks in English (subtitles displayed in German on the Cinema's screen) just before Shosanna Dreyfus overrides the movie with her message.
During the restaurant scene when Emmanuelle Mimieux (Shosanna Dreyfus) hears the name "Colonel Hans Landa", the man who killed her family in front of her four years prior, and realizes that he is, in fact, standing behind her, the pounding sound effect playing over the scene is an excerpt from Charles Bernstein's score from The Entity (1982).
If you were to research the "Iroquois Theatre Fire," then you would find many similarities to the film in terms of where the fire starts in the theatre, and what it really is that seals the audience's fate. Though, of course, the film adds its own little kicks in there.