The Blue Max
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As directed by John Guillermin (who later made The Battle of Britain in 1969), the film's main assets are epic production values, great flying scenes, and stunning dogfights. The weak point is the sometimes ponderous character drama, not helped by Peppard, who is too lightweight an actor to convince as the driven antihero. Clearly influenced by Kubrick's Paths of Glory (1958), The Blue Max is a cold, cynical drama offering a visually breathtaking portrait of a stultified society tearing itself apart during the final months of the Great War. --Gary S. Dalkin
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Predictably, he rebels even as he never fits in with his comrades. It is illustrated well by his response to his first kill (which sadly goes unconfirmed even after he went scouring the countryside for the plane he shot down). He "responds" by getting his first confirmed kill by shooting down the next enemy plane over his own airfield. While his betters who populate the squadron never cease to remind him of his place, he continues up the ranks to best them all while ridiculing their so-called code of honor. "Chivalry?" he sneers. "To kill a man and then make a ritual out of saluting him is hypocrisy."
It has great flying battle scenes. Also, a wonderful supporting cast including the aforementioned Manson, his slutty aristocratic wife (the magnificent Ursula Andress) and a stick-up-the-butt colleague/rival fellow officer (Jeremy Kemp). Karl Vogler plays von Heiderman, the Commanding Officer who refuses to let go of his notions of warfare with honor, in the face of the barbaric commencement of the 20th century.
I disagree with the reviewer who says Peppard was out of his depth in this role. He plays the part of the anti-hero very well. I was even more impressed after reading that he did his own flying in this film.
It is very long, but worth the time.
"The Blue Max" is about a World War I German Soldier, Bruno Stachel (George Peppard), who "graduates" from ignoble trench warfare to the aristocratic air officer corps. Stachel is naturally a fish out of water with his new higher class comrades-in-arms; but this doesn't seem to bother him one iota. Stachel is only interested in gunning down twenty enemy planes to get the coveted Blue Max, Germany's Medal of Honor. In fact, he is so focused on this goal that he'll do anything to achieve it, honorably or dishonorably.
The vibe of the movie is ultra-realistic. Critics of the flim have complained that Stachel is an unlikable character and therefore not a very good hero to root for. It is true that Stachel doesn't seem very friendly (how friendly would you be with high-class "gentlemen" after years of brutal trench warfare?). It's also true that he's selfishly ambitious (he totally rebels against the team spirit of his squadron). He's also an alcoholic and an adulterer. But as the German general played by James Mason states: he's brave, ruthless and driven -- exactly what Germany needs at the closing months of the war.
People who make the above criticism miss the point. Real life offers up few perfect heroes to root for. People, situations and motives are more complex than this. And this pic nobly attempts to be a realistic portrayal of air combat in World War I. In other words, the story should just simply be digested as is without looking for a hero.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good cast and interesting story-line, but over-long and seems to falter towards the end; which would be helped by some judicious editing. Read morePublished 20 hours ago by Michael H.
i cannot play this on any dvd Equipment, so i had to play it in my Laptop drive.Published 8 days ago by tom blokhus
Told from the German point of view, the Blue Max is one of the best and perhaps the most overlooked and underappreciated war movies of all time. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Andre Lucero
This is one of 3 of my favorite movies! I am SO glad to own it!!!Published 17 days ago by James W. Pixley
I've watched this movie often, great acting and great actors. I highly recommend every one who enjoys this type of movie to buy and watch over and over.Published 18 days ago by Ray
This is a good period movie that showcases dogfighting in WW I. Told from the German side it showcases a young aviator as he climbs the ranks coveting the Blue Max, the highest... Read morePublished 27 days ago by TubaMan
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