Over the course of his illustrious career, Quentin Tarantino has made several critically gems, and one of them is definitely his 2009 hit Inglourious Basterds. Starring some of the biggest stars in the industry like Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz and Diane Kruger, the film constructs an alternate version of the events of the Second World War, which is compelling, tense and strangely enjoyable.
Tarantino had been working on the material since the ’90s and really believed in the premise that he had constructed. The film follows various groups of people dealing with the horrors of the Nazi regime who end up contributing to the spectacular termination of the fascist leaders. As is evident from some of his other works, like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Tarantino is quite adept at making historical revisions look gloriously cinematic.
In an interview, Tarantino explained: “On this movie, there’s one real big roadblock, and that’s history itself. And I expected to honour that roadblock. But then, at some point, deep, deep, deep into writing it, it hit me. I thought, Wait a minute: my characters don’t know they’re part of history. They’re in the immediate, they’re in the here, they’re in the now, this is happening.”
Adding, “Any minute, they’re dead. And you know what? What happens in this movie didn’t happen in real life because my characters didn’t exist. But if they had, this could have happened in real life. And from that point on, it simply had to be plausible, and I had to be able to pull it off… My characters change the course of history.”
To counter the terror inspired by Nazi crimes, a group of Jewish American soldiers operate in Inglourious Basterds,and they are led by Lieutenant Aldo Raine (played by Pitt). Among the famous Jewish soldiers who make Nazis pee in their pants, the most formidable presence is that of the legendary ‘Bear Jew’ who is known to beat Nazis to death with nothing but a baseball bat.
Tarantino initially wanted to cast none other than Adam Sandler to play Sergeant Donny ‘The Bear Jew’ Donowitz, believing that the star of Punch-Drunk Love had what it took despite his terrible comedic performances. However, Sandler turned the part down because he was too busy making Judd Apatow’s 2009 black comedy Funny People, where he played the role of a disillusioned film star.
The role of ‘The Bear Jew’ eventually went to horror film director Eli Roth, making Sandler miss out on the rare chance of restoring his reputation as an actor. He wouldn’t get another chance like that until the Safdie brothers’ 2019 masterpiece Uncut Gems, which earned him widespread critical acclaim as well as the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead.
Watch a hilariously edited version of Adam Sandler as ‘The Bear Jew’ in Inglourious Basterds below.