The Blue Max (1966)

George Peppard, James Mason, Ursula Andress, Jeremy Kemp,
A young pilot in the German air force of 1918, disliked as lower-class and unchivalrous, tries ambitiously to earn the medal offered for 20 kills.
  • 7.1 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Jack Hunter, Ben Barzman, Basilio Franchina, David Pursall, Jack Seddon, Writer:
  • John Guillermin, Director:
  • Producer:


/ 10

/ 10

8 / 10

Forget about Top Gun as the ultimate 'fighter pilot' movie!

I'm a fan of World War One-movies and I've got several of them in my private DVD collection. "The Blue Max" isn't in it yet, but if I ever find it on a DVD, I won't hesitate for one moment to buy it. I want to have it, not only because it deals with WWI in general and because it is a good movie, but also because it gives an idea of how the war in the air was fought and how these pilots acted and saw themselves...

This movie tells the story of Bruno Stachel, an ordinary infantry soldier who has been turned into a fighter pilot. His colleagues aren't happy with him, not only because he isn't an aristocrat like they are, but also because he's extremely ambitious. He will do anything to win him his country's most honored medal, the Blue Max. But to win it, he'll have to shoot down 20 enemy aircrafts, which will all have to be confirmed by his comrades, without getting killed himself. And while being hated by his fellow pilots, he's seen as the people's hero and perfect propaganda material by the general and as the ideal lust object by the general's wife...

"The Blue Max" shows very well how the pilots during WWI were almost always noblemen (I guess the most famous one of them all was Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen, better known as the Red Barron), who considered the concept of an honorable death at the hands of a "worthy" opponent still as one of the most important things during their fights. Even at the end of the war in 1918, while on the ground troops had been anonymously slaughtered by the thousands with machine guns and gas, they still considered chivalry as one of the highest goods.

Next to the historically correct situation of the story, I also admire the rest of the movie. I know, if you aren't interested in WWI, than this might not be the most spectacular movie you've ever seen, but even than the movie has plenty of good and interesting things to offer. The story on itself is nice, the acting is very good and the airplanes are magnificent to watch, on the ground as well as in the air. This is one of those movies that has stood the hands of time, but that is known by only a small audience, which is really a shame. Personally I'm a big fan of this movie and that's why I reward it with an 8/10. My advice: don't call "Top Gun" the ultimate fighter pilot movie before you've seen this one.

7 / 10

Small medal, big heart and ego.

Bruno Stachel is a lower ranked pilot in Germany's World War 1 air force, he dreams of winning The Blue Max, a prestigious medal given to pilots after 20 confirmed kills. As he rises thru the ranks, and his determination grows, he fails to earn respect from is comrades and more importantly, his superiors.

The Blue Max is a rare old thing, a flying ace picture that not only is in colour, it's also rather good. Perhaps a touch too long {as Stachel's romantic character arc gets over fleshed}, but a ripper of a movie harking back to genre greats back in the 30s and 40s. The vintage planes recreated are majestic, and joyously the aerial sequences in the picture do them much credit, stunts and dogfights flow with almost operatic ease. The story is a good one, based on the best selling novel from Jack Hunter, it's tale of a man who's determination is admirable but ultimately it's his undoing, will winning The Blue Max really make him feel he belongs with the aristocratic crowd?, are the sacrifices he makes worth it?. The ending here is excellent, its point is made, and closes the film with a sort of uneasy incredulity, it takes a good few minutes for the final sequence to really hit home, but when it does you know you have just been sold a highly inventive story.

Technically the film scores high, the direction from John Guillermin is safe, tho if at times guilty of filler scenes, the score from Jerry Goldsmith is perfectly blood pumping, whilst Douglas Slocombe's cinematography pleases the eye. The acting is fine, George Peppard puts guts and honesty into the role of Stachel, Ursula Andress smolders and oozes sexuality as the cheating Countess Klugerman {one bedroom scene had this viewer particularly hot under the collar}, whilst James Mason {sadly underused} owns the film as chief string puller General Klugerman.

Open a bottle of wine on a Sunday afternoon and enjoy, 7.5/10.

7 / 10

How a man with a dream, misuses it and falls from grace...

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.

The story deals with a simple German infantry soldier, stuck in the horror of the trench warfare, who dreams to fly and become an ace.

Well, he doesn't have to wait long and soon he's a flyer. he also becomes an ace.

Unfortunately, his modest social origins, keep him from the Sun, the Blue Max in fact. The Blue Max is the highest ranking medal given to pilots in WWI.

Knowing that, Stachel (Peppard) decides to fight all the odds and becomes totally ruthless and opportunistic.

Unluckily for him, two can play at the same game. The German Reich needs a hero, an example to play its cards right, in order to have more draftees to send to the front.

Stachel becomes such a hero, but to a price...

It is a crude and cruel depiction of the rise and fall of someone who came from nothing and through war, thought he could make it in society, only to find out that certain games are better left alone.

A very good morals and ethics lesson, from which many people could still learn something.

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