One of the few immutable constants in our topsy-turvy lives is that Nazis are bad. In the movies, you can have sympathetic aliens, well-intentioned lawyers, or likable Commies, but Nazis are pretty much always the embodiment of unrepentant evil.
There can be some nuance to their characters, however. And the interesting Nazi is always good for a little recognition come awards season.
This is certainly the case with Col. Hans Landa, the "Jew Hunter" from Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Landa is despicable, to be sure, but it's how he views himself -- first and foremost as a great detective -- that gives his character more depth than just about anyone else in the film, and Christoph Waltz was already named Best Actor at Cannes for his work.
To mark the DVD release of Basterds, here's our list of five more memorable movie Nazis, followed by info on how to obtain a free copy of the DVD for yourself.
Arnold Toht (Ronald Lacey) -- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Toht mostly gets by on reputation here. Yeah, we have no doubt he's willing to torture Marion, and one doesn't get to wear the leather SS trench coat without having been a very naughty boy, but in Raiders he's stuck with the comic relief role. Oh, he burned his hand...now he's sweating in the island sun...now his face is melting off. Oh, that Toht.
Illinois Nazis -- The Blues Brothers (1980)
"The Jew is using the Black as muscle against you." I hate when the Jew does that, and I told my Jewish friend so. He said they were trying to stop.
Ilsa (Dyanne Thorne) -- Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1975)
When film scholars remind us that the 1970s were the greatest decade in American cinema history, they're thinking of Ilsa Specifically, they're thinking of the Thorne's sublime acting ability, which -- as we can see in this scene -- reminds us that even sadistic Aryan torture-philes have their limits.
Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) -- Schindler's List (1993)
Goeth, the Commandant of the Płaszów Labour Camp, is the only Nazi listed here that actually existed, and he was every bit as brutal a fucker as portrayed by Fiennes in the film. That is, of course, if you're one of those poor suckers who's allowed themselves to be swayed by the mountains of paperwork, thousands of personal accounts, and millions of feet of film documenting the existence of the Holocaust.
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Dr. Christian Szell (Laurence Olivier) -- Marathon Man (1976)
By combining Nazis and dentists, two of mankind's most hated foes, director John Schlesinger and writer William Goldman did for orthodontia what Jaws did for beach vacations.
Agree? Disagree Win a free Inglourious Basterds DVD by writing in the comments or in an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (headed "Ingloourious") and tell us who's the worst Nazi on screen and why. The three best answers get a free DVD. You've got until Thursday, mein herren.