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Von Richthofen & Brown
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John Phillip Law, Don Stroud. The ace German WWI pilot, Manfred von Richtofen, better known as The Red Baron," flies across the screen in this biodrama depicting the story of his exploits and his life, including his struggles with jealous German officers. 1971/color/97 min/PG-13/fullscreen.
The incredibly prolific exploitation film producer and director, Roger Corman, tries his hand at a war film with Von Richthofen and Brown, about WWI air battles between German icon Baron Manfred Von Richtofen (John Phillip Law), and his alleged captor, Canadian Lt. Roy Brown (Don Stroud). With a slowly unfolding plot that may be tedious to anyone but war buffs trolling for historical accuracy, the film is mostly about its flight sequences, as it should be. Von Richthofen and Brown shows The Red Baron's rise to glory and his noble downfall, while building sympathy for the opposing forces who plan revenge on his unbeatable German team. Interpretive scenes during which he snidely paints his squadron's planes, including his own conspicuous red, and later depicting his controversial death, during which he is shot mid-air but somehow lands his plane, are the most arresting to those not aircraft-obsessed. Tension built between Von Richthofen and Brown is half-baked, making further argument for the film's battle-scene priority. War aficionados will appreciate this film, while Corman fans will yearn for more sex, gore, melodrama, and classic Corman action. --Trinie Dalton
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But, since they went for the Red Baron (probably figuring it would help in the box office), the innacuracies are mind boggling. Just to mention two of them: Richthofen, Boelcke, Voss, Goering, Wolff, Lothar and Udet, all in the same squadron at the same time (if they had added Immelmmann, already dead at the time, it would have been marvellous!). Other: the way Voss died. They didn't bother to show the way it happened, that was one of the most famous air battles in history, fighting for ten minutes alone against seven Allied machines.
Now, to the movie itself. It has clearly a "B-Movie" feel. Of course. It's Corman directing. He can not escape it. It's stronger than him. The screenplay has its flaws. Dialogues are restrained, cliched. But, given the relative short duration of the film, they tried to put a lot of information in it. Photography is anohter matter. It's simply gorgeous. (there is one moment though, in the last battle, when you can see clearly the 1971 cars below in the road. I laughed a lot!).
Go for this movie as light entertainment. At least, you get the clear feel that , for the aereal scenes and battle scenes, the producers and director went to great efforts to make it right.
Had the movie not been about about actual historical characters, it might be a bit more enjoyable for fans of WWI aerial warfare. Instead it's hard to ignore the historical inaccuracies and the little character insight we get into the Red Baron who is portrayed more as wood than man.
If you like WWI aerial warfare than check out this movie but if you are pedantic over historical details and machinery be forewarned before you burst a blood vessel.