1960s

Published on August 20th, 2010 | by Chris

1

The Blue Max (1966)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On August 20, 2010
Last modified:October 5, 2012

Summary:

The movie comes across as more of a classical "character tragedy" than anything else, as Stachel rises to fame, poisons that by his own doings, and pays the ultimate price for it.


The Blue Max (1966)In much the same vein as "The Red Baron," we bring you "The Blue Max." A tale from the novel by the same name from Jack Hunter.

The story follows one Bruno Stachel (George Peppard) as he makes his way from the German infantry in The Big One up to a Lt. in the Luftwaffe. His goal? To win the holy grail of the skies, The "Blue Max" medal.

To that end he ruthlessly goes after any and every kill he can find, much to the chagrin of his fellow fliers. Even going so far as to spend an entire day out looking for the wreckage of a plane he downed, but can't confirm. He even manages to secure the Red Baron's plane at one point.

Along the way, he becomes a "golden boy" of the German propaganda machine, propped up as the "commoner's Richtofen", a contrast to the upper-class upbringing of his comrade. The problem is that Stachel buys into his own hype whole-heartedly, and quickly becomes a pain and a menace to the men around him, and to the officer corps in general, led here by General Count von Klugermann (James Mason.) He even takes his "conquest" to the next level by having a fling with the General's wife (Ursula Andress.) Eventually, the General

The problem is not the movie, the story, or the production, all of which are quite excellent, if a bit long (clocking in at 156 min.).... But rather Peppard himself. He's awfully, well, wooden in this picture. No other way to say it. There's no feeling here, no nothing really. He's a machine. But he's outdone in this picture by the *real* machines, namely the aircraft and the dogfights therein.

And to that effect there are some wonderfully executed flying scenes here. Done by real airplanes and pilots. No low-budget CG here, folks. It's the real deal, and it's really fun. But like I said, the rest just sorta drags along as Stachel barely cracks a face of any kind.

Any message here? That I'm not entirely sure of. Having not read the book I can't deduce if there's supposed to be one, but I really can't find one. The movie comes across as more of a classical "character tragedy" than anything else, as Stachel rises to fame, poisons that by his own doings, and pays the ultimate price for it.

All that said, it is an overall very good movie, with the one flaw being Hannibal's Peppard's seeming lack of enthusiasm.

IMDB: The Blue Max (1966)
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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...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: PEPPARD,GEORGE
Manufacturer: 20th Century Fox
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • George Peppard
  • James Mason
  • Ursula Andress
  • Jeremy Kemp
  • Karl Michael Vogler

Features

  • Factory sealed DVD

Reviews

Customer reviews
Average Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love those Airplanes, July 22, 2012
By 
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This review is from: The Blue Max (DVD)
At first, I thought the flying machines were Sopwith Pups, Gypsy Moths, or maybe Tiger Moths and may well have been. But after reading up on the making of the film, I learned the producers had Fokker make two replica Fokker Dr.1 tri-planes especially for The Blue Max. The flying sequences were spectacular.

Set in Germany during the closing years of World War I, Bruno Stachel (George Peppard), discovers that promotion from front line fighting to a fighter group is a battle with two enemies; the pilots of the Allies and the higher-born fellow German fighter pilots.

Bruno's ambition is to win the Blue Max and quickly starts accumulating the 20 needed kills. However, coming from the trenches, he enjoys no ethics, no code of honor. He steps over the dead, and his flying comrades do not like it. Jeremy Kemp is one comrade (remembered from Winds of War and War and Remembrance) who duels socially with Bruno. He's also the nephew of the Field Marshal, played by James... Read more
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Masterpiece! Great War Classic!, August 5, 2017
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I Saw This Movie in The Theater In 1966, when I was Sixteen Years Old ! I Love This Movie! Outstanding! A Masterpiece Of A Movie! One Mans Quest! To Win The Highest Award! That Germany Can Give! Outstanding Story Line! Outstanding Acting From Everone! Great Soundtrack! A Classic!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Roaring biplane blast from the past!, May 20, 2006
By 
lighten_up_already2 (Kirkland, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Blue Max (DVD)
My father took me to see this movie when I was a child of about six or seven. Actually, he wanted to see it and he had to take me along. I didn't remember the plot, but I remembered the scenery and the music and the cool biplanes and dogfights.

So, I finally bought this movie so I could watch it as an adult.

I can empathize with those who say this movie is too long and moves too slowly. That said, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

The airplanes are amazing. Where did they get all these biplanes from? The only other movie I've seen that has such authentic looking biplane dogfights is "Wings", and that was made back in the 1920's when biplanes were all over the place.

The soundtrack by Jerry Goldmith fits the movie perfectly and adds mood where appropriate.

I loved the "intermission". It reminded me of a time when a movie was a real event. Movies were so long that the movie itself gave you a break to use the bathroom... Read more
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The Blue Max (1966) Chris

Summary: The movie comes across as more of a classical "character tragedy" than anything else, as Stachel rises to fame, poisons that by his own doings, and pays the ultimate price for it.

3.5


User Rating: 4 (1 votes)


About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



One Response to The Blue Max (1966)

  1. Curtiss Mooney says:

    The story is about class-consciousness among the German (e.e. Prussian) aristocracy, and Stachel’s resentment at initially being snubbed as the son of a hotel maitre’ di. He goes above and beyond, as it were to make a name for himself out of spite and defiance of authority. In the end he is destroyed for overstepping himself by claiming another pilot’s kills for his own.

    George Peppard did his own flying in the movie and afterward bought the high-wing Neiuport monoplane that his character Stachel got killed in, to fly as his personal plane. The extraordinary flying sequences and the evokative music are the highpoints of the movie.

    Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon” follows a similar story about an Irish waistrel’s rise to and fall from grace during the era of Frederick the Great (and even uses a march tune composed by the Prussian monarch as part of its score).

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