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The Secret Meaning Behind Aldo Rain's Undercover Name In Inglourious Basterds

It could be labelled an action flick, a war movie, or even a socio-political drama. It could also be called a shameless slice of exploitation cinema, or a devilish example of artistic historical license run shamelessly amok. Whatever you call 2009's Inglourious Basterds, the one label that covers all of the above is "Tarantinoesque."

And Inglourious Basterds may well be the purest distillation of Quentin Tarantino's cinematic mission, melding his passion for the arthouse and the grindhouse as seamlessly as any film in his celebrated catalogue. Perhaps more than any of his films, Inglourious Basterds is the one that also doesn't get quite enough credit for its comedic chops. 

Now, while Tarantino's wild World War II set tale of U.S. Army specialists, German film stars, and French Resistance fighters burning down the Third Reich in a literal blaze of big screen glory is often a genuine sight to behold, it's obviously not a comedy. However, the film is, at times, laugh out loud funny in the way that only Tarantino films can be (see: the gold watch speech in Pulp Fiction, Brad Pitt's catty retorts to "Tex" in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, etc). For Inglourious Basterds fans, the director's singular sense of humor is best displayed when Brad Pitt's character Aldo Rain tries to pass for an Italian stuntman named Enzo Gorlami to infiltrate a posh Nazi movie premiere event.

The joke is, of course, that Pitt's character has about as thick a country accent as any character in the history of cinema, and simply hearing him repeat the word "Gor-lam-i" is nothing short of a comedic marvel. As it happens, there's more to that name than you think, as it was borrowed from the man who directed the late-70s actioner that helped inspire Tarantino's own.

The man who inspired Aldo Rain's cover name actually has a cameo in Inglourious Basterds

That film was 1978's Fred Williamson-starring The Inglorious Bastards. It was directed by famed b-movie auteur Enzo G. Castellari — whose given name is, wait for it, Enzo G. Girolami. And yes, paying homage to one of your cinematic idols in a key moment from your own film is about as Tarantino a move as you'll see, particularly when it comes in such hilarious fashion.

To be clear, Tarantino's use of the name is hardly the punchline, with Brad Pitt hamming up the moment in genius fashion to ensure the absurdity of him saying the name is what lands the laugh. And just for the record, Castellari himself was very much in on the joke. 

That's because Tarantino didn't just stop with a verbal shout out to the director. In fact, Tarantion actually invitef Castellari to the set of Inglourious Basterds for a cameo in the film. To make matters even funnier, Castellari's cameo comes in the very same scene in which Brad Pitt is hilariously butchering his name. And as it happens, Castellari's appearance as a German officer in Inglourious Basterds also works as a genuinely brilliant meta moment as the director appeared (uncredited) as a German officer in his own 1978 film.

If you're at all familiar with the work of Quentin Tarantino, you know that he's a filmmaker who giddily wears his many influences on his sleeve — which means his films are rife with winking nods, clever homages, and direct references to movies from every cinematic genre, from literally every generation. Still, as far as Tarantino Easter Eggs go, one has to admit this loving, double-ode to the man behind the O.G. Inglorious Bastards takes the cake.