[The first in a series of posts: Row Three programming if we owned a Rep Cinema]
The Lady Vanishes – 7pm
Night Train to Munich – 9pm
Inglourious Basterds – 11:30pm
Beginning in a fictional Eastern European country with Hitchcock’s mystery romp, The Lady Vanishes, hopping trains into the Gestapo-strewn Czechoslovakia and Germany of Carol Reed’s Night Train to Munich and coming into station in Nazi-occupied France courtesy of Quentin Tarantino and his Inglourious Basterds, this triple bill is one perfectly paced adventure after another with characters and events bleeding into one another by three of the greats of cinema history. Each is a standalone pleasure but combined the films strengthen one other with their playing up of genre and wit. The British way of life (particularly the Brit abroad and the Brit at war) is played out in the three films operating in relatively the same historical time and place (Night Train in Munich was actually filmed during WWII,Inglourious Basterds, obviously playing more off the histrionics of it), and while The Lady Vanishes has some political commentary nestled in it (anti-appeasement sentiment in the final shoot-out) it’s chiefly a pulp spy story played for thrills. Inglourious Basterds and Night Train, while explicitly situated in and around WWII, are similarly more interested in the veneer of history, making their commentaries on the sly while relishing in the pleasures of pure cinema. Night Train begins with a montage of Hitler banging his fist upon a map of Europe, an image that Tarantino later plays for laughs. The anxiety of a British spy posing as a Nazi officer within a confined space of the enemy is also shared between the two films and both take their time to ratchet up the suspense. To begin the bill with Hitchcock and end it with Tarantino seems appropriate, for whatever originality Tarantino does possess he is not afraid to pay homage to the greats that came before him, and whether via De Palma or Hitchcock, Tarantino stays loyal to this lineage of pure cinema.