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The Blue Max

472 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The "Blue Max", a coveted medal for achievement in flying, is ruthlessly sought by Peppard, a poor-boy german soldier who climbs out of the trenches and into the aristorcratic air force. He is met with prejudice by the other contestants, wealthy snobs who

The Blue Max is highly unusual among Hollywood films, not just for being a large-scale drama set during the generally overlooked World War I, but in concentrating on air combat as seen entirely from the German point of view. The story focuses on a lower-class officer, Bruno Stachel (George Peppard), and his obsessive quest to win a Blue Max, a medal awarded for shooting down 20 enemy aircraft. Around this are subplots concerning a propaganda campaign by James Mason's pragmatic general, rivalry with a fellow officer (Jeremy Kemp), and a love affair with a decadent countess (Ursula Andress).

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

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: George Peppard, James Mason, Ursula Andress, Jeremy Kemp, Karl Michael Vogler
  • Directors: John Guillermin
  • Writers: Basilio Franchina, Ben Barzman, David Pursall, Gerald Hanley, Jack Hunter
  • Producers: Christian Ferry
  • Format: Letterboxed, Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 1.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: May 20, 2003
  • Run Time: 150 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (472 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008AOTN
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,551 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Blue Max" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

129 of 134 people found the following review helpful By Eric V. Moye on March 21, 2004
Format: DVD
A really good war movie, perhaps in part because it was so relatively unexplored in film. It is the story of a German working class soldier ("common as dirt", as characterized by his General, played by James Mason) named Bruno Stachell (who is well-portrayed with icy self- assurance by George Peppard) man. Stachell leaves the trenches in World War One and becomes an ace in the German flying corps which is populated by officers and gentlemen. His obsession is a medal - hence the film's title - awarded to aces, and his colleagues, commanders and the British Air Force won't keep him from it.
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.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By dirk on September 6, 2003
Format: DVD
I've seen most war flicks and this one from 1966 is definitely one of my personal favorites (other favorites include Apocalypse Now, Where Eagles Dare, Platoon, The Eagle has Landed, etc.).
"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.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Rick Galati on February 5, 2002
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This is one of those films that seems to get better with age. It is the story of a low-born warrior Bruno Stachel (George Peppard), who by force of will and talent, rises out of a common foxhole and into the cockpit of a fighter airplane in the closing days of WW1. It is his arch-nemesis, the aristocratic flying ace Willi von Klugermann,(Jeremy Kemp) who keenly observes Stachel's ruthlessness and nicknames him "Cobra". The aerial flying sequences are breathtaking and plentiful, many of the aircraft were constructed for the making of this movie, unlike computer generated duplications so common today. The slow cadence and almost hesitating sound of unreliable machine guns firing from the flimsy aircraft they were fitted to is striking testament to the sound editors art. Stachel's ambition for glory "in and out of bed" is unmatched by his well-born and condecending comrades. But in the end, his destiny is inexorably tilted by an unyielding competitiveness, a beautiful countess (Ursula Andress),her shrewd and powerful husband Count General von Klugermann,(masterfully portrayed by James Mason), and a demoralized, desperate Germany in the waning days of WW1. The production values of this film are excellent, the sets striking, and obvious attention to historical detail is evident. Jerry Goldsmith's musical score ties a compelling story line together with subtle variations of a hauntingly beautiful musical theme. It is my hope this film will be digitally remastered for DVD release.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kevin R. Austra on September 23, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Rarely has the Great War ever been expressed on the wide screen as done in THE BLUE MAX. The air war is viewed from the German point of view with George Peppard in the starring role. Peppard portrays German lieutenant Stachel, the son of a working class family who rises from the mud-soaked enlisted infantry ranks to that of the privilaged pilot officer corps. Ruthless in his pursuit of Germany's highest decoration, the Pour Le Merit known as the Blue Max, Stachel violates the chivalrous confines of the air war to the point of insubordination. Stunning aerial combat sequences and beautiful Irish countryside (doubling for the front lines in France 1918) make this definitely a film worth watching. A great supporting cast, many of whom are regulars in war movies of the 1960's and 1970's, add considerable talent to this bold film. Indeed, Jeremy Kemp and George Peppard previously costarred in 1965's OPERATION CROSSBOW. Kemp would again play the role of a German officer in the 1980's television miniseries WAR AND REMEMBERANCE. Actor James Mason already perfected his recurring film roles as a German General in two previous films (in both of which he played German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel) and adds a powerful performance in THE BLUE MAX. Jerry Goldsmith's soundtrack is nothing less than spectacular. This World War One classic ranks highly with ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT and WHAT PRICE GLORY.
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