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The Blue Max
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  • 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
  • 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 The blood, bandages, and bodies are superseded only by the mud, filth and constant artillery barrages and machine gun fire.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
  • Blue Max Review
    A first rate movie in every respect!! The performances are truly riveting even by today's standard's! George Peppard shines in his own unique charismatic way!
    James Mason (in my opinion) showcases his dynamic acting talents bar none!
    Ursula Andress plays out her usual Catwomanly fickleness to the tee!

    The aerials are some of the best that I've ever seen considering the fact that the movie came out in 1966!...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
  • Nothing at all like the book - in case you care.
    The only thing this movie has in common with the book by Jack D. Hunter is the title, The Blue Max, and the names of the characters. Everything else was completely changed. Ok, there was one scene when Bruno Stachel shoots down a British plane over his own airfield that was somewhat true to the book... The screenplay changed virtually all the character relationships - and not for the better. In the book, Stachel is a drunk and the story centers more around the relationship between Stachel and his Commander, Von Heiderman.

    Frankly, I think the book was a much more compelling story. The two versions are so different; you can watch the movie and not ruin the plot in the book and vice versa. In fact, the ending is completely reversed. A different character dies at the end of the movie. The book also does a much better job of building and explaining the Stachel character.

    The movie was ok. The book was great. Glad I read the book first or I probably would never have read it after seeing the 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
  • 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
  • awesome aviation movie
    This is one of my favorite aviation movies (next to "Battle of Britain," and "Tora! Tora! Tora!").

    What sets this movie apart from any other flight movie, though, is that the main characters are just as exciting and intriguing as the combat footage.

    The rivaly between the top aces is very engaging. "Top Gun" tried to create rivaly between Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, but I really didn't get into it as much. In my opinion, there really wasn't much of a difference between Cruise and Kilmer other than the way they look. But when you compare the rivals in "Blue Max," you get a much better contrast of characters: for one, the younger pilot is more of a working class kind-of-guy; his counterpart, on the other hand, is more aristrocratic.

    As for the casting of the main character, I'm not at all disappointed. Sure, his accent was a little bit non-Germanic sounding, but he flattened it pretty well. As far as acting goes, I felt he was right on target: of course he seems out of place amongst the pilots because he IS out of place. He was a footslogger before he became a pilot. Although he flew very well, he still wasn't in the same class as them (socially).

    As for acting, I think the only performance that was horrible was James Mason's. It's amazing how many times this actor got casted as a German. Why does such a poor actor get so many cool roles when he won't even TRY to flatten his non-German accent? If I was playing a Southerner, I wouldn't go out of my way to ACCENTUATE a New England accent. It's just illogical.

    This movie's awesome, and you'll be treated to good aerial footage in addition to an engaging story....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
  • here's to the blues
    Made in a period when Hollywood knew how to make quality stories into quality movies, the Blue Max is the story of a young soldier who volunteers for the Air Force to escape the brutal life of the Trenches. And quickly we learn that a man's reputation is subject to the whims of the establishment. A nice boy can be made to appear to be a sexual predator; a first class swine can be made to look like a saint. In this case our young low born flier quickly becomes a tool to that end. His General (played by James Mason) decides Germany needs a hero, somebody common people can identify with and the flier is picked. Groomed and manipulated while he struggles to survive the brutal arial combats and impress his fellow fliers and win a place for himself among them the young flier is put through the process until in the end the General decides a Dead Hero is more valuable and puts him in an untried plane which has already been shown to be dangerous to fly.

    I really can not stand the synisism of this film. The backstabbing and seducing really turn me off. I share with Geoarge Peppard's disgust with the hypocracy of the other characters. The arial combat is superb though along with the uniforms and the settings.

    Ironicly, in the novel Peppard's character survives. He saves a French child from drowning and becomes the epitomy of Chivalry and the values his class publicly espouses yet yardly practices. And in the sequel novel becomes an officer in the Luftwaffe. ...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!
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  • 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
  • Cinematic Brilliance
    Blue Max is thoroughly enjoyable - great acting; great camera work; great scenery; good story with different ending....more info
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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