Stuntman Mike: Well, Pam… Which way you going, left or right?
Stuntman Mike: Oh, that’s too bad…
Stuntman Mike: Because it was a 50-50 shot on whether you’d be going left or right. You see we’re both going left. You could have just as easily been going left, too. And if that was the case … It would have been a while before you started getting scared. But since you’re going the other way, I’m afraid you’re gonna have to start getting scared … immediately!
To quote the great Jules Winnfield, that’s a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker. Death Proof is a minor Tarantino film — it was presented as part of the Grindhouse double bill with Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror — but it’s all the stronger for having low-key aspirations. Stuntman Mike is a great villain, and this is the line where he turns on the evil. There’s nothing less funny than explaining a joke, but somehow explaining why someone should be scared can make things a hell of a lot scarier.
Jungle Julia: [to Arlene] What about “kinda cute, kinda hot, kinda sexy, hysterically funny, but not funny-looking guy who you could fuck” did you not understand?
Should Quentin Tarantino make a rom-com? This line from Death Proof presupposes … maybe he should?
Col. Hans Landa: The feature that makes me such an effective hunter of the Jews is, as opposed to most German soldiers, I can think like a Jew, where they can only think like a German … more precisely, German soldier. Now, if one were to determine what attribute the German people share with a beast, it would be the cunning and the predatory instinct of a hawk. But if one were to determine what attributes the Jews share with a beast, it would be that of the rat. The Führer and Goebbels’ propaganda have said pretty much the same thing, but where our conclusions differ is I don’t consider the comparison an insult.
Christoph Waltz’s performance as the dastardly, brilliant Nazi Jew Hunter, Colonel Hans Landa, introduced a brand-new quality to the Tarantino-verse. The man had written many a brilliant thinker and oodles of type-on badass mofos, but none of them had the breezy, aristocratic air that Waltz so devilishly embodied. Pulp Fiction is the canonized choice for Tarantino’s best film, but Inglorious Basterd’s reputation seems to grow with every passing year. The movie is filled with utterly exquisite scenes like this one, in which Landa slowly unravels the mind of the French farmer hiding Shosanna and his family beneath his floorboards. Tarantino’s always had the gift of (writing) gab, but in Inglourious Basterds, he took his skills as a dramatist to the next level.
Lt. Aldo Raine: But I got a word of warning for all you would-be warriors. When you join my command, you take on debit. A debit you owe me personally. Each and every man under my command owes me 100 Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps. And all y’all will git me 100 Nazi scalps, taken from the heads of 100 dead Nazis. Or you will die tryin’.
Inglourious Basterds kicked off the latter-day phase of Tarantino’s directorial career. After three Los Angeles-set crime stories, Tarantino had followed his love for schlock genre fare down the rabbit hole and emerged with a two-part, kung-fu epic. So what was next? The answer, in retrospect, seems obvious. Tarantino loves film and film history, so diving into the films and historical events of yesteryear makes for a perfect match. His next three movies: Basterds, Django Unchained, and The Hateful Eight concern WWII, slavery, and the Civil War, respectively — albeit, each does so in violent, foul-mouthed fashion. Tarantino has never been one to tread lightly, and the phrase “100 Nazi scalps” captures his intentions here perfectly.
Lt. Aldo Raine: Yeah, in a basement. You know, fightin’ in a basement offers a lot of difficulties. Number one being, you’re fightin’ in a basement!
Just a perfectly executed piece of sass. Brad Pitt has always been at his best when operating in full character actor mode — see 12 Monkeys and Burn After Reading — and Lt. Aldo Raine gives him the chance to deploy his considerable comedic skill set towards a leading man-type part. His later delivery of the line “Grazi” might be the single funniest joke in any Tarantino film.
Lt. Aldo Raine: Actually, Werner, we’re all tickled to hear you say that. Quite frankly, watchin’ Donny beat Nazis to death is the closest we ever get to goin’ to the movies. Donny! We got a German here who wants to die for his country! Oblige him!
Tarantino is not here for any of your “The Greatest Generation” pap. The WWII of Inglourious Basterds is the same as any other war: A bunch of blood-thirsty men (and women) on both sides trying to kill as many enemies as they can — all while having a damn-fine time of it. Tarantino loves going to the movies, so for Aldo Raine to levy that comparison, you know he must be enjoying it. Dying for your country doesn’t mean a damn thing, here. It’s just sport.
Lt. Archie Hicox: [In English] Well, if this is it, old boy, I hope you don’t mind if I go out speaking the King’s.
Major Dieter Hellstrom: [In English] By all means, Captain.
Lt. Archie Hicox: [picks up his glass of scotch] There’s a special rung in hell reserved for people who waste good scotch. Seeing as how I may be rapping on the door momentarily … [drinks his scotch] I must say, damn good stuff, Sir.
If you walked out of Inglourious Basterds wondering who the hell that hot British guy was, then Congratulations: You were one of the millions of people who had just discovered Michael Fassbender. But aside from Fassbender’s performance as Lt. Archie Hicox — which is stellar — this line marks the near-culmination of a pretty much perfect scene.
As Hicox and co. wait for the contact in a cramped basement bar and try to evade notice by an unexpected group of German soldiers, Tarantino takes his knack for chatter and weaponizes it into a ticking time bomb of dread. Once the jig is up, Hicox doesn’t flinch. He’s all stiff upper lip. And these closing lines give him the fitting send-off that he deserves.
Col. Hans Landa: Oooh, that’s a bingo! Is that the way you say it? “That’s a bingo?”
Christoph Waltz won an Oscar for his performance as Hans Landa (and a second Oscar for Django Unchained), and the way he delivers lines like this is the reason why. His giddy delight at being able to employ this turn of phrase — in the midst of betraying the Nazi party and negotiating a swift end to the war — is both chilling and quite funny.
Col. Hans Landa: You’ll be shot for this!
Lt. Aldo Raine: Nah, I don’t think so. More like chewed out. I’ve been chewed out before.
This line is delivered with the utter confidence of someone who has been chewed out many times before — and who has never once given it a second thought.