Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks is a celebration of the characters we love to hate in the movies we love to love. They’re not always the main villains – and sometimes they’re not even villains at all – but they’re definitely jerks. So let’s take a look at this week’s jerk-off, and why they find themselves forever enshrined here in the hall of shame. Since this week we’re talking about Fredrick Zoller, this is your spoiler warning for the 2009 movie, Inglourious Basterds.
I’ll give you a quick behind the scenes look at how well prepared Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks is. I’ve got a Word file that is just a big list of names of jerks from movies, and then whenever I get round to writing another instalment I cherry pick one from the reservoir. It’s genius. The list is a veritable who’s who of cinematic douchebaggery, a treasure trove of scum and villainy, Hollywood’s most loathsome rogue’s gallery. 17th on the list simply says “Creepy Nazi Guy (Inglourious Basterds)” because I couldn’t remember the guy’s name, but that’s why he makes the cut. As if being a Nazi isn’t bad enough. Dude’s fuckin’ creepin’, too.
In the alternate history timeline of Inglourious Basterds, Fredrick Zoller is a German soldier who becomes a war hero after he winds up trapped in a bell tower, sniping over 250 enemy combatants over a three day period before he gets his ass rescued. This heroic display of mass-murder brought him to the attention of Hitler’s master of propoganda, Joseph Goebbels, who immediately commissioned a movie to be made detailing Freddie’s exploits to serve as a source of inspiration for all the goose-steppin’ morons within the Nazi regime. They love a bit of that. Meanwhile, Mr. Zoller has a little time off from the war due to his status as a national treasure and visits his local picture house, immediately taking a fancy to the proprietor of the establishment, a young french lady named, Emmanuelle Mimieux.
Emmanuelle isn’t quite as taken with Fredrick as he is with her. It could be the language barrier, or perhaps he’s just not her type, or maybe she’s just not all that hot on invading armies occupying her country and committing genocide against a bunch of people based solely on which magical man that lives in the sky they choose to believe in. Actually, it’s probably that last one, because plot twist, Emmanuelle Mimieux is not really called Emmanuelle Mimieux at all, but Shosanna Dreyfus, which is great news for me because I keep forgetting how to spell Emmanuelle Mimieux and I had to copy paste it every time. Shosanna is Jewish, you see, and a few years ago she escaped the slaughter of her entire family at the hands of the SS, so she probably isn’t totally cool with the whole Nazi thing, but Freddie doesn’t know that so he probably thinks she’s just playing hard to get or whatever.
So Shosanna goes to a coffee shop so she can drink coffee, and read a book, and smoke silly looking cigarettes while wearing a beret like a good French girl ought to do. Fredrick Zoller shows up to talk to her, and despite the fact that she obviously couldn’t give a fig about his attempts to affable, and her being quite overtly bemused by how he’s treated by other German soldiers thanks to his war exploits, he still keeps trying because he really does fancy her. She ain’t having it again, so off she trots, only to later be dragged into a meeting with Dr. Joseph Goebbels who announces that he wants to hold the premier of the movie about young Fredrick’s war heroism at her cinema at the behest of Zoller, because he wants to pump her.
Along comes movie night and all of the Nazi high command is in attendance to watch “Nation’s Pride”, a presumably dreadful movie about (and starring) Fredrick Zoller holed up in a bell tower, sniping foreign soldiers like a proper Nazi. Freddie, dressed up to the nines, decides that tonight is the night and goes to see Shosanna to try it on with her again. She’s still not having it, even with the fancy suit and medals. You’d think Fred would take the hint here and just leave her the fuck alone, but no, he keeps hitting on her like a weirdo, and then eventually when she gets annoyed with him, he loses his temper and berates her, because how dare she not want to get it on with Fredrick Zoller, right? This is why you don’t have a girlfriend, Fredrick.
Jerk-off Quote: “The only people who should be allowed in the room are the people who will be moved by the exploits on the screen.” – Fredrick Zoller, Nazi and movie snob.
Comeuppance: When he starts getting a bit fresh with Shosanna on movie night, she’s finally had enough of his shenanigans, and rather than bother to explain to him, again, why she isn’t interested in his romantic overtures she tells him to lock the door, implying that he’s finally going to get a little sexy time with her. When he turns around to lock up, she shoots him in the back in cold blood; an igmonious end for a celebrated war hero, but a righteous infliction of comeuppance upon a Nazi scoundrel who refused to take “no” for an answer.
Jerk-off Rating: If he existed today, he’d be the sort of person who makes pitiful posts on Facebook about how “nice guys finish last” because the girl he’d been clumsily hitting on for six months every morning at Costa Coffee got a boyfriend who isn’t him.
Tune in next week – same jerk time, same jerk channel – to find out who’s next in our celebration of cinema’s ultimate jerks. And if you’ve not quite had your fill of cinematic jerk-offs, check out #10 Peter Parker (Spider-Man 3), #12 Biff Tannen (Back to the Future), or #14 The Concierge (Home Alone 2).