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The Blue Max [VHS]
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Product Description

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

Customer Reviews:

  • An Overlooked Gem
    We always see "our side" (i.e., the American side) of wars whenever we watch films. Well, maybe not always, but very often. So it was refreshing to see, not only a movie based on German perceptions, but one also based on WW I instead of WW II.

    George Peppard plays Bruno Stachel, an ordinary man from an ordinary family, who gets inducted into the elitist German air corp toward the end of the Great War. The upper echelon fighter jocks are none to pleased to see a dirt poor boy come up into their ranks, but Bruno doesn't much care. What he does care about (in fact, becomes infatuated with) is winning The Blue Max, the German medal for downing 20 enemy planes or more. His focus is so intent on this little scrap of metal that he ignores even his humanity. He'll conquer anything, or anyone, that gets in his way.

    A stellar cast outlines this film as well, with James Mason playing a General propagandist, Jeremy Kemp as a rival flyer, and the lovely Ursula Andress who acts as a decadent love interest that is way beyond Bruno's reach.

    The movie is outstanding, not only in its casting, but in many other aspects, too. The air battle scenes are amazing (remember, this was filmed in 1966). The plot is incredible in that it shows the dying actions of chivalry that, up to that point, were used during battle. And we have a bit of nudity during what I like to call "the floppy towel scene", when Ursula's character has relations with Peppard's.

    Quite an achievement for a film shot so long ago. A visual and mind building feast....more info
  • The best WWI film perhaps; Peppard notwithstanding!
    The Blue Max is both a classic and a quirky film. It has epic Hollywood scope but adopts a fascinating viewpoint and tells a tale of cynicism high and low, and of class warfare amid real warfare.

    Max centers entirely on the German air forces during the final months of WWI. George Peppard is Bruno Stachel, a newly-minted officer of humble origins. He enters a service in which the ranks are filled by the elite of the dying German Imperium's aristocracy. He wants to climb socially and sees his route as being through The Blue Max, an award given for 20 confirmed kills of allied planes and "the only medal worth having anymore." His route runs through Ursula Andress, a randy Countess, and James Mason, her platonic husband, who also happens to be a ruthless Luftwaffe General desperate to use low-caste Peppard as a hero to the unquiet masses behind the lines.

    Although Peppard is, as some have noted, a little lightweight for the role, he is not bad, and he has just the right carnivorous look. The splendid production values are also not to be overlooked--the aerial combat scenes are superb.

    On the whole, Max is a superb film and a semi-classic. Max does not rise to the levels of irony and gritty reality of Kubrick's Paths of Glory but it certainly exceeds All Quiet on the Western Front or the almost campy Fighting 69th.

    A valuable addition to the collection of any war film or aviation buff!
    ...more info
  • Loved the movie.
    Seeing George Peppard flying WW1 fighters instead of running the A-Team was quite a hoot. But seriosly, this movie showed well the life of a pilot (and former ground soldier) in the last year of the war coping with proving himself to the other squadron pilots of 'higher birth', to the point of obsession. To him, the 'Blue Max' was more than a medal: It was a badge in order for him to show himself to be the equal of the aristrocratic classes. Very enjoyable....more info
  • Excellent character contrast
    Most who have seen this movie focus on the flying scenes which are great. But the best part is the character contrast - a commoner among aristocrats....more info
  • The Blue Max
    Excellent story of a social outcast, driven by ambition to climb the social ladder, and gain acceptance, both socially and militarily. Very good aerial combat footage featuring the biplanes in use during World War I, the setting for this movie....more info
  • The Blue Max Will Please Red Baron Fans
    The Blue Max includes some of the most realistic air combat cinematography in color relating to WWI fighter planes and their tactics.The movie is a collector's item for those who wish to experience how and in what type of machines the present day fighter pilots' ancestors fought for their countries in the skies over Europe....more info
  • Overlooked genius.
    Someday, this movie will get the single spotlight it deserves. A few years ago, the movie "Twelve O'Clock High" was isolated and elevated as a study in leadership - the movie enjoyed extra life in corporate board rooms and seminars all over the world.

    The Blue Max is better. For one, the "action" scenes are flat-out great. Real WWI airplanes, real flying, real dirt. (note: the planes are replicas and a few post-WWI Stampes and Tiger Moths are used as sky-filler but only poops will complain).

    Yet, the treasure in the film isn't the's the grit and authenticity of the people portrayed. As a "guy movie," The Blue Max illustrates the problems, challenges and realities of leadership in ways that are personal, revealing. Only the muddle-headed will miss opportunities to question themselves - "If I were him, how would I have done it...?"

    Every guy in a man's pond is there - the erudite, the competant, the braggart, the jerk, the evil, the good, the fodder, the winner, the loser, the guy-who-doesn't-fit-in, the guy-whos-on-top-of-his-game... and the coolest part of the movie is how the viewer can identify so quickly with this-guy or that.

    As a family movie, the character-probing is rather heavy, the war-scenes are dramatic but relatively bloodless (bright red paint is laughable nowadays) scenes won't upset the squeemish. Language is mild and if memory serves, I think there's a brief moment where Ursulla Andress is partially topless. But it can't be more than a second - and I've watched the movie maybe...10 times?

    That being stated, watch the film with children who enjoy thinking beyond the obvious and ask the question - "Who was the real bad-guy of the movie?" The answer will be telling...for me, I think it was...naw. You get the movie and draw your own conclusions. : )

    A minor complaint - George Peppard was GOOD, but maybe a bit out of place...not his fault - more the fault of the casting agent. As he plays the part of a working-class upstart in a room of Country Clubbers, I would have liked the social distance to be more obvious - Peppard just doesn't "look" like a German Joe-Six-pack.

    PS - Flyboys? Don't even go there. Blue Max vs. Flyboys is like comparing a butcher-cut Filet to a Salisbury Steak. The Blue Max is a far, far, far better movie....more info
  • Blue Max
    I saw this when i was young in first release. After seeing now again i was not dissappointed. it's a long movie but seems short. Good action sequences refreshingly without CGI. If you like the genre, you will like this movie....more info
  • Great Planes, Sexy Siren.
    I love the look and romance of WWI planes and this was the main reason I bought this film. That being said, I thought this movie had a great storyline and terrific shots of WWI planes/combat. It's in color which is a plus, as opposed to Hughes Hell's Angels(The acting and storyline in that movie is a bit corny by the way). Ursula Andress is the love/sex interest in the film and this was made about the same period that she was a Bond girl. The only reason for which I may have taken away a star was the lack of director commentary and special features. I'll ignore that considering the age ofthe original film. Not a bad price either. If you like WWI planes I would definitely think that this is a must for your film collection....more info
  • Blue Max a Winner
    This is a very entertaining story of WWI air combat. The flight scenes are well done and the planes appear authentic. A young George Peppard plays the main character very well, with coldness and intensity as he competes with the wealthier aristocratic pilots who look down on him. The romantic scenes with Ursula Andress are sort of tame by todays standards; keep in mind this movie is 40 yrs old and standards were different back then. James Mason has a small role as a German general who politizes the pilot into a war hero, playing the role with proper authority....more info
  • An upstart who doesn't fit in but does stand out
    Filmed in Ireland (which explains the somewhat puzzling absence of trenches and mud in many of the aerial dogfighting shots, and the even more puzzling sight of the Irish parliament building in Dublin, a city masquerading as Berlin), this film is interesting in that the First World War's Western Front is merely the backdrop to a story surrounding a man who finds himself fighting not just the enemy (the British in this case), but fighting the attitudes of his fellow aviators.
    Bruno Stachel (ably played by George Peppard) is a man who intends to climb not just out of the trenches but into the air, but also in terms of his social status as he does anything he believes appropriate in order to win the so-called "Blue Max", the highest medal the Germans awarded for gallantry until 1918. While his commanding officer, Otto Heidemann (Karl Michael Vogler) detests what he perceives as a low-lifer who totally disregards "how the upper class does things", the Countess von Klugermann (Ursula Andress) finds this man somewhat fascinating purely because she wants something different and wants to know what makes Stachel tick.
    It is somewhat puzzling as to why her husband, the General (James Mason), and her nephew, Willi (Jeremy Kemp), do or say nothing to chase away this upstart from this upper-crust man-chaser, yet undoubtedly, in the absence of the actual fighting at the front, the sub-plots needed to work, interwoven as they are with the main plot involving Willi himself, who wins the medal after destroying 20 enemy aircraft. Stachel's ambitions are spurred when Willi is awarded the medal, though he is somewhat shaken after his rival (and, dare I say it, friend) accidentally ends up crashing into a lone chimney stack and killing himself after a reckless stunt to prove who was better at flying aeroplanes.
    His commanding officer's prejudice is well maintained (kudos to Vogler) and is unremitting even when he demands that the general have Stachel court-martialled for disobeying orders, only for the latter to refuse outright - the man was now a hero to the common people, something that the general had planned once he realised Stachel's abilities. Heidemann then realises that the war did not revolve around individuals and that what had been certain and applicable before was not necessarily applicable now. He is therefore forced to back down.
    Yet a white lie by Stachel, who rejects a fiery Countess's advances, landed him unknowingly in a predicament that he remains totally unaware of. Given the ending (which is different to that in Jack Hunter's original novel, but which I won't reveal here), it reveals that just as people are prepared to put them up on pedestals, so the same people are prepared to drag them down in as shocking a way as possible.
    This is a well-done movie about the human psyche in time of war, not a collective psyche as seen in many American war movies like "Platoon" and "Full Metal Jacket", but of an individual who stands out and makes his mark by bucking the trend as very much a non-conformist who does things his way and doesn't care who knows it or who objects to it. Peppard does an excellent job, even though, back in 1966, he was not a star and was surrounded by star actors like Mason and Andress (who'd been in THAT bikini just a few years before when Connery popped up). Like "Battle of Britain", filmed over England in 1968, the aerial sequences are spectacular and well done but they remain strictly secondary and do not overpower the plot.
    Personally, I would have liked the film to explore more of Stachel's personality - about what really drove a working-class man to reach new heights in the face of a social class whose way of thinking and acting was totally alien and anathema to him. His involvement with the Countess seemed also a bizarre sub-plot, but, as in "Zeppelin" (1971), her involvement was merely to serve as a (female) distraction in a male-dominated society that would change irretrievably after the fall of Imperial Germany in 1918.
    ...more info
  • Cinematic Brilliance
    Blue Max is thoroughly enjoyable - great acting; great camera work; great scenery; good story with different ending....more info
  • Great movie and a nice addition to mu collection.
    One of my favorite war drama movies with great action scenes and terrific action by all the stars.The older aircraft makes this movie a must see for airplane buffs....more info
  • Tremendous
    I never thought that I could enjoy a movie about uncomplicated, even primitive fighter craft, but this movie was the shizz-nit. Great aerial combat sequences, tremendous acting and a great plot compel this movie into my top ten. Don't waste you time watching movies like "Top Gun" !! "Blue Max" is the real deal!...more info
  • A very good, if not forgotten film.
    I first saw this film as a boy on a Saturday afternoon t.v. matinee, and was completely intrigued. Thirty years later I bought the VHS out of a bargain bin and found that the film was just as good as I remember it. Needless to say it is one of George Peppard's finest performances, supported by an all star cast. The movie has a good storyline, but the flying and dog fighting scenes are what really make the film. That with some good old class warfare, are what really put the story together. It is a classic underdog tale of a commoner, who will stop at nothing to make a name for himself among the aristocrats who will use him, but never accept him as an equal. ...more info
  • Now that was dogfighting!!
    No fire and forget missiles or stinking radar needed. I first saw this movie when I was 9 years old and it was one of the forces that lead me to become an aerospace engineer. I watched it last night and I couldn't believe I actually finally owned the movie 29 years after first seeing it on TV.

    I think Peppard did a great job of making his character quite believeable. The real drama in this movie is in its suble moments. As when the General told his wife to come along or they would be late for lunch while a plane created a smoking hole in the distance. Peppard's contrasting views on death on the battlefield/air and his commanding officer's view of chivalry was quite thought provoking.

    And of course the air combat scenes are fabulous. No CGI but the real thing, by contrast Flyboys was a piece of garbage....more info
  • Blue Max flying classic epic
    I think George Peppard gets a bad rap for his role, many agree he was not " heavyweight" enough to pull off his characters role of " anti-hero", after having recently watched this again after many years I think he gets it right. I probably was distracted from a deeper analysis due to the fact the planes are just incredible to watch, and well Ursula Andress is wildly good looking as well. The story line is one of insecurity of social status as Peppards charcter is working class and in one scene is humiliated in front of his peers by the revelation of his fathers humble background, flyers apparently were men of stock and stature and not usually middle class, this is seemingly over done with frequent references to vintage Champagne. It an amazing historical fact that to actually get a " Blue Max " was all but impossible in those planes, you had equal chance to crash as you did getting shot down and indeed it was the vanity of Jeremy Kemps charcter that ultimately bests him in the end. This may not be the greatest story ever told but you won't notice, the dogfights and flying sequences are so wonderful it simply carries the film, it certainly is no small thing that Peppard and Andress look gorgeous together polished in every scene. Ultimately this is a great looking exciting to watch war period piece and if you ever saw " Hell's Angels" and thought that was great then you will love this as well. Recommended....more info
  • A Very Fine War Drama That Magnificently Overcomes Its Shortcomings
    In 1966 at age 11, I was fortunate enough to accompany my dad to a first-run showing of The Blue Max in eye-popping CinemaScope. That any great love I have for movies persists to this day has to at least partially be attributed to such events.

    All nostalgia aside, director John Guillermin's film The Blue Max, especially as presented on this DVD, still delivers a powerful combination of action, drama, romance, and spectacle in the midst of the first large-scale mechanized war. Battle scenes on the ground and in the air are magnificently portrayed. The trenches are as nasty as can be imagined. The blood, bandages, and bodies are superseded only by the mud, filth and constant artillery barrages and machine gun fire. Above and apart from that fray exists a different kind of hell typified by uncommon valor and hubris combined with a chivalry that was soon to be bygone--that of the "knights of the air".

    All these qualities are on display at a World War I German air base in France as low-born Lieutenant Bruno Stachel (George Peppard) joins a corps of blueblood aristocratic flyers commanded by the most chivalrous of them all, Otto Heidemann (Karl Michael Vogler), and exemplified by the haughty but popular Willi von Klugermann (Jeremy Kemp). Soon joining the proceedings are Willi's uncle, General Count von Klugermann (James Mason) and his ravishing young (but kept) wife Countess Kaeti von Klugermann (Ursula Andress)--Willi's "aunt by marriage".

    Overarching the breathtakingly staged and photographed air battles, the aerial and romantic derring-do, and the political intrigue marking desperate measures taken by a soon-to-be non-extant empire is one of the most magnificent musical scores ever by Jerry Goldsmith.

    Count me among those who think Peppard was well-cast as Stachel. His "Americanisms" and painfully obvious unease amongst the sons of German nobility set him appropriately apart. It's to the credit of actors such as Kemp, Vogler, and Mason (and Andress to an extent) that they could accentuate this difference. Stachel's unease is later to be supplanted by a truly unlikeable hubris and unmitigated gall as he relentlessly pursues that which, at least in his eyes, will put him on a par with his "betters"--twenty kills and the coveted Blue Max.

    Jeremy Kemp is likeable as the not-entirely-honorable Willi, a veteran ace who's to become the object of Stachel's not-so-covert contempt as well as his rival for the affections of Countess von Klugermann.

    James Mason as General von Klugermann comes off as manipulative yet "honorably" duplicitous in the face of political reality. If there's an enigmatic character in this film, it is he. Compare with Adolphe Menjou's equally duplicitous French General Broulard in Stanley Kubrick's film Paths of Glory.

    A role that doesn't seem to receive much mention in previous reviews is that of Vogler as Commanding Officer Heidemann. If the tide of the war and the very fate of the German empire lends sufficient gravitas to the film's narrative, it's Heidemann's staunch adherence to truly noble ideals in time of war to which the viewer oddly feels akin. These ideals, too, are at stake vis-a-vis Stachel's insistence of their hypocrisy and General Klugermann's "manufacturing" of Stachel to be a hero of the Fatherland. That Heidemann is ultimately vindicated in this regard is probably, and again oddly, one of the most satisfying aspects of this film. The final scene quietly resonates with ironic closure as much as the opening scene with Stachel the infantryman gazing skyward had with ironic romanticism.

    Yes, Ursula Andress can be said to be a walking, talking "blonde joke" in this film. She's beautiful, conceited, and has no honorable quality that penetrates deeper than her soft voluptuous skin. However, her presence, and that of the romantic "quadrangle" her presence produces, does lend added resonance and visual vibrancy to the theme of class and social position. If Heidemann's vindication was satisfying, the frustration of Countess von Klugermann was equally so!

    So what are the film's shortcomings? They're mostly ones of visual continuity. Though the aerial combat supposedly takes place over ravaged battlefields, we see aerial point-of-view shots of the planes flying over and crashing into lush green fields and copses--the film was shot entirely in Ireland. The keen eye can also catch TV antennas on the rooftops of the French village where the German officers are housed. Amateur military historians are sure to point out anachronisms and incongruities, but I would maintain none are so egregious as to dispel the film's dramatic and historical efficacy. Yes, much of the propelling narrative is indeed driven by abject melodrama, but its "well-played" melodrama. Oh, and another thing: I can't remember any other war film with such a preponderence of alcohol and ice buckets; so much gravitates around champagne, brandy, cognac, white wine, or schnapps!

    This is simply one of my favorite war films, made compelling by its backdrop of World War I from the German perspective and its fabulous staging, acting, direction, music, and technical prowess. If you haven't yet seen it, this widescreen DVD presentation will make you think again of the artistry and craft that is "true" epic movie-making as opposed to the faux computer-generated brand now often being foisted on audiences.
    ...more info
  • A German anti-hero determined to be a WWI flying ace
    "The Blue Max" is a film that keeps its hero at a distance from the audience. Although it contains absolutely stunning footage of aerial combat between World War I bi-planes we never really developing a strong rooting interest in the main character, Bruno Stachel (George Peppard). This is not just because Stachel is a German, who is gunning down British and French pilots throughout the film; films like "Das Boot" have managed to gain out compassion and concern for Germans during times of war. But Stachel is very much an anti-hero, who's passion for shooting down the enemy is for personal glory (symbolized by the military award, the Blue Max) rather than as part of the Fatherland's war effort.

    This is rather ironic because one of the major sub-texts of "The Blue Max" puts Stachel in the mode of the traditional American rags to riches success story: German fliers are mostly members of the aristocracy and Stachel had served two years in the trenches before transferring to the luftwaffe. Yet because the character does not have the moral attitude required of a great warrior, we are compelled to watch his story play out but are not persuaded to be moved. In fact, the ending of the film is decidedly different from Jack Hunter's novel, but in does conform to the character of Bruno Stachel developed in the film. The problem is not with Peppard's performance (he played a similar sort of heel in "The Carpetbaggers"), but rather with the character he plays.

    "The Blue Max" has a historical accuracy that is rarely seen let alone truly noticed in a war movie and there is something about those World War I aircraft, the way they move in the air, that makes the metaphor of knights of the air more potent. The metaphor also matters because of the idea of chivalry that Stachel rejects throughout the film. James Mason plays General Count von Klugermann, who sees Stachel's exploits as a propaganda tool which will help make das volk happier to shed their blood in the trenches and Ursula Andress plays his wife, the Countess Kaeti von Klugermann, who is dangled as bait to get Stachel to play along.

    My favorite performance is Karl Michael Vogler as Otto Heidemann, the group commander and arguably one of the few real warriors in the film. "The Blue Max" has great aerial sequences that have to balance the more plodding action on the ground. This was one of the first movies I had seen after reading the book and it is interesting to reconsider the film today and finally articulate why I was so disappointed with it way back when....more info
  • Finally on DVD...
    I will be brief. Buy it, it's a must!

    George Peppard plays his role, Stachel, to the hilt in this WWI war drama. He is supported by very talented and well-known actors such as James Mason, Ursula Andress, Anton Diffring and many others.

    The image is sharp and the colors are vivid. The sound is a bit conventional, but since the story is all encompassing and well developed you will probably forget all technicalities and just sit through an excellent movie as I did.

    I can only suggest it. The rest is up to you....more info

  • Visually stunning, convincing, treat for Aero buffs.
    Reading the other reviews, several of which were very impressive, wouldnt find much to disagree in MrGalatis comments, I was taken back to my own last viewing of this movie, a VHS, havent seen the DVD. I also had read the book, though after my first view of the film in my childhood. Its a thick book, and several sordid sub-plots including the blackmail attempt on Stachel by a member of groundcrew and a pilot which Stachel deals with murderously would have made the movie overlong, but the fatal low-level buzzing of the bridge seen in the movie resemble that bookplot in part. I wasnt surprised to read right here that the aircraft were specially constructed for this big-budget epic, let me point out there are no deHavilland Tiger Moths with Maltese crosses on them to appall the buff-viewer here, a convincing-looking legendary 'Richtofen' even puts in a brief 'cameo-appearance' in an impressive looking triplane, in what must have been chronologically Richtofens final days before death.Most of the British planes are SE5a's. The movie captures the WW1 atmosphere from the early gloomy morning scenes at the airfield and the German pilots ordering pink champagne at the mess-bar. This film is from the German viewpoint, and several sequences depicting the destruction of Allied troops or airmen may disturb some somewhat, there are a couple of graphic and convincing sequences depicting grim hand to hand between the ground forces that our characters soar above. The sequence where Stachel 'captures' a British two-seater and escorts it back to his base and what occurs there is grim and war-authentically brutal and insightful into wars moralities, to me, Peppard is accused of cold-bloodedness maybe even a war-crime for his handling of a situation which changes suddenly to foil his chivalrous attempt to capture rather than destroy a British two-seater, alas the situation looks like one thing to the witnesses on the ground who cannot see crucial events unfolding 20 metres ahead of Stachel high in the air, the real situation that only Stachel can see is quite different.Of course, Stachels reasons for attempting to spare the helpless British plane and its occupants are not entirely selfless either.

    Peppards eventual engineered fate is a further comment on war and the people who run it, as well as what can happen to you if you assume to fool around with other peoples women, even if they dont seem to mind up front.I think the concept and background of this final scene is based on the story of a late-war German type, the Fokker D-viii monoplane and the problems encountered with that.More for the aero-history -buffs.

    For the kids whove seen rubbish like 'Top Gun', or worse still 'pearl harbor', come see a movie with real aeroplanes doing real flying probably also actual life and death in the stunts themselves, no foxy ladies in leather jackets telling you how to handle Russian MiGs here, and no American fighter-pilots flying B-25 bombers to China and taking on Japanese infantry hand-to-hand either, or P-40s and Zero fighters that move like F-16s either.No CGI,no boy-band looking cast, just grim ambitious though courageous anti-heroes,with some conniving, breathtaking real aeroplanes and grim real-looking aerial killing. Top 60s-movie Vid or DVD, really, if your an aeroplane or war-movie person and havent seen it, chances are youll be blown away, or rather shot-down!...more info

  • unsung masterpiece
    It was once said that a movie critic can't act, direct or make a movie. In fact, they can't do much of anything other than critcize the work of someone else. That will explain my view of their bashing of 'The Blue Max'. 'TBM' is a superb World War One film about flying aces filled with superbly filmed airial dogfights. I've always felt that the making of this movie was a bold step for the times, defying convention. To me, that's just one reason it stands out so. It juggles a variety of hats to tell its multi-faceted story doing it all quite well. First & foremost as stated, the arial doghfights scenes are the most extraordinary ever filmed. You can almost feel the wind at your face, and the exhilaration of flying these simple machines made of lightweight wood, and canvas, as they soar above the clouds. The price of admission was worth it for just those scenes alone. James Mason's General controls all the puppet strings of politics and propoganda, that guide the message of the war machine to the fatherland. George Peppard is excellent as the upstart from the trenches who doesn't fit in with the bluebloods, unwilling to adhere to their hypocrisy of codes and honor. His sole, singleminded, obsessive purpose is to win the aviators highest honor, the medal known as The Blue Max, no matter the cost. Ursula Andress 'Sizzles' across the screen even more hot (if that's possible) than when she came out of the ocean wearing her bikini, in 'Dr. No'. Even though the best scenes are in the air, the interplay amongst all the characters supplies a solid base for the film. Peppard is certainly no hero and does a heck of a job playing a man with no soul or conscience. Andress is a coniving vixen who loves playing with her men. She's hellbent on satisfying her selfish desires, un-restrained by her husband (Mason), who's content letting her have her fun. So long as it doesn't interfere with his propoganda machine. Alls well and good, until she meets a man whose contempt is greater than hers. If your a fan of this genre, do yourself a favor, don't listen to the critics and grab this one quick! Amazon makes the price an offer you can't refuse. ...more info
  • Solid DVD of an Underrated War Film
    Another solid entry in the Fox War Classics Series. The DVD has a fair stereo mix and a beautiful, restored widescreen transfer with enhancement for 16x9 TVs. The widescreen cinematography is essential to fully comprehend the vastness of the sets, expanse of the cinematography and some interiors in which director John Guillermin places conversing characters at opposite ends of the frame. My only complaint is that some scenes had an unusually large amount of grain and there was some visible edge-enhancement. Special features include a few trailers for this film as well as beat-up trailers for other Fox war-related movies and the usual alternate language tracks and subtitles. For the low price, the disc is worth every penny.

    (from my own review at

    Unmistakably one of the most entertaining war films to come out of the 1960s, "The Blue Max" is the kind of film that could only have been made in Hollywood. Featuring some of the best aerial combat scenes ever shot and a great ensemble cast, it's enjoyable pulp fantasy for any war film fan.

    The film opens with a brilliant, intense action sequence: Bruno Stachel (George Peppard, "Tobruk") dives into a mud-filled crater on the Western Front. He's visibly exhausted; his heavy breathing and unshaven face reveal how horrible front line conditions are. From above comes the sound of a dogfight - Peppard's bright blue eyes blare from a mud-covered face as he stares in awe at the action in the skies above him, the mood fully established with Jerry Goldsmith's evocative score. Flash forward two years: Stachel has transferred to the Luftwaffe and is a green, inexperienced pilot. A peasant, Stachel has little in common with his high-class comrades, members of the elite Officer Corps. He's ruthless and ambitious, and sets his sight on winning a Blue Max - the medal awarded to a pilot with 20 kills to his credit. With this award, Bruno will have won the respect of his comrades. Squadron commander Heidemann (Karl Michael Vogler, "Patton") has one, and hotshot Willi von Klugermann (Jeremy Kemp, "Operation Crossbow") is awarded one early in the film. Stachel vigorously has to catch up to their status, and Willi takes a liking to him, helping him try to fit in.

    As Germany is losing the war, Willi's uncle, General von Klugermann (James Mason, "Cross of Iron") enters the stage: he sees potential in Stachel for more than just flying prowess. This is a time when the common people of Germany need a hero. Stachel is a poor farm boy, someone they can all relate to. Von Klugermann sets out to make Stachel a national icon; when he received a minor wound, he's escorted to a cushy Berlin hotel and the press takes pictures of a nurse tending to his wound, plastering pictures all over the national newspapers. Countess Kaeti von Klugermann (the beautiful Ursula Andress) sets her sights on Stachel, and soon a steamy affair has begun, right under the nose of the General. As Stachel's selfish ambitions become more apparent and blatant, Willi's friendly competitiveness fades and their adversity becomes an all-out battle. All of this builds to an unavoidable, somewhat depressing ending.

    This is a character-driven drama firstly, and the action is simply a supplement to the story of the characters. Unfortunately, Peppard is a wooden lead. He speaks in unaccented English and never seems to be thoroughly involved in his part; it's as though he's sleepwalking through almost every scene. The rest of the cast deserves more credit. Co-star Jeremy Kemp is much more believable. He's sly, cynical and delivers fantastic deadpan humor. James Mason is brilliant as usual as General von Klugermann, a career German officer whose chief concern is for the German people and his nation's prestige. I have never seen Mason deliver a bad performance, and here he is simply fantastic. He's often cool and restrained, but lets anger and rage come out full-force at key moments. As his unfaithful wife, Ursula Andress is her typical self; beautiful and often barely concealed. A standout is Karl Michael Vogler as Heidemann. A veteran flyer devoted to his duty, Heidemann is a career soldier. He's been fighting since the beginning of the war, and although weary and tired, keeps doing his job. His chief goals are keeping as many planes flying as possible, despite Allied air attacks and supply shortages. He demands that Stachel's ambitions take second fiddle to strategic operations; when he disobeys orders, Heidemann threatens to have him court-martialed. Vogler's performance is excellent, and he walks away with each of his scenes.

    Director John Guillermin and Director-of-Photography Douglas Slocombe weave some excellent flying sequences into the film's story. These action scenes are not independent conflicts between German and English fighters - conflicts between characters are developed on the ground and either expanded or settled in the air. The skies have never been bluer, and the vintage aircraft look fantastic as they dive, swoop and strafe enemy columns. The stunt work and special effects are genuine, even some brilliantly-staged crash sequences. Even the work of Guy Hamilton and crew in 1969's "Battle of Britain" pales in comparison to this. The scenes of trench warfare and bombing runs are massive and spectacular. The mud-splattered soldiers, vast fields dotted with rotting corpses and bomb craters, and some hand-to-hand combat has never looked more authentic. Every cent invested in the film was put to good use. Scenes in Berlin - particularly that in the hospital and food riots shot through a moving car window - are historically accurate.

    Guillermin isn't afraid to experiment with camera during the discussion scenes. Note how he often places two actors in one room on opposite ends of the frame, simply to capture the scope of the interiors. Marvelous pans show off huge numbers of extras and planes taking off and landing. There's also a long crane shot showing a huge, lavish dining hall at the Von Klugermann's mansion which captures the essence of nobility and aristocracy in one shot.

    "The Blue Max" is a brilliantly shot, engaging and wildly entertaining World War I epic which should satisfy any fan of aircraft and war films. This is a must-see DVD, which preserves the CinemaScope ratio (a necessary asset, as pan-and-scan versions detract from the epic look of the picture) and also features a great restored surround-sound track and stunning digital image quality. It's the only acceptable way to see this film in the modern world.

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  • A rare WWI movie
    While hundreds of movies have been made about WWII, very few have been made about World War I but even then some of those have been forgotten including 1966's The Blue Max. Crouching in a muddy crater in no man's land in France in 1916, infantryman Bruno Stachel looks up to the skies and sees two planes in a dogfight. Fast forward most of two years where Stachel has graduated from flight school and joins a squadron. Stachel has one goal, to get the Blue Max, given to pilots who shoot down 20 planes. He becomes obsessed with getting the medal, alienating his squadron and everyone around him. However, the general staff sees a hero in the making and builds him up to the German people. The high point of the movie is definitely the aerial footage as the German pilots go head to head with their British counterparts. At 156 minutes, parts of the movie can drag, but the aerial sequences are top-notch.

    Leading a strong cast, George Peppard stars as Lt. Bruno Stachel, a German pilot who wants to win the Blue Max no matter what. Stachel is not a likable character by any means and Peppard plays the role well, an obsessed officer who doesn't care who else is hurt by his efforts. James Mason plays Count Klugerman, a German general who sees a hero in Stachel but also must decide what is best for Germany. Ursula Andress is Kaeti, Klugerman's wife who takes more than a little interest in Stachel as his fame grows. Jeremy Kemp is very good as Willi Von Klugerman, an ace pilot in Stachel's squadron who becomes fierce rivals. Karl Michael Vogler plays Otto Heidemann, the squadron commander who is forced to balance the good and the bad as the German war effort takes a turn toward defeat.

    The DVD is a safe bet with a widescreen presentation that makes the movie look as clear as ever. Special features include a trailer, and then the same trailer in Portuguese and Spanish, and trailers for five other Fox War Classics. A movie that's a little too long that benefits from great aerial sequences, give The Blue Max a shot!...more info
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  • Fly it again
    I love world war 1 planes and naturally add my fav plane to one of my fav actors, i had to see it. Peppard was excellant in this. His character has one real ambition, besides the countess (which he loses intrest in later in the film) is the beloved Blue Max. He's put down every step of the way and his nemesis, Willie is such a person to hate, you can't help but to snicker when Stachel has something over him. Lots of tense moments and really likeable, I watched 2 more times in the span of 2 days....more info
  • The Blue Max
    The Blue Max is a classical " FILM " starring a young George
    Peppard (1966) it has an exccelent plot, beautiful scenery
    with an unexpected ending.It is not a blood and guts movie.
    But rather an exceptional story about the morals of war.
    Anyone should enjoy this "FILM". A must see !!! ...more info