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The Blue Max

George Peppard , James Mason , John Guillermin    Unrated   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 16.98
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Product Description

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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

Product Description

The "Blue Max", a coveted medal for achievement in flying, is ruthlessly sought by Peppard, a poor-boy german soldier who climbs out of the trenches and into the aristorcratic air force. He is met with prejudice by the other contestants, wealthy snobs who look down upon his low ecomomic stature. When he claims the title, he earns the respect of the General and the General's wife, who wants to repay him in ways that the General might not appreciate.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
The opening words of Bruno Stachel(George Peppard in his best role) to Willie(Jeremy Kemp) as they discuss a picture of "The Red Baron" that Stachel idolizes when he first arrives at his squadron, Stachel is ambitious to achieve "The Blue Max" medal at all costs including his relationships. He sours on the others almost immediately but successfully attains his goal and is at the same time used by the Aristocracy as a publicity figure to gain the support of common folk tired of war and needing a hero from their own ranks. It covers the period from 1916 to 1918 and Stachel is in a race to get his twenty kills before the war ends. Ironically, Stachel's idolization of the Red Baron is changed due to his encounter in the air where he is shot down and injured trying to save the Baron and says to Willie Von Kluggerman "that's the fool that almost got me killed" and it turns out to be his former hero. He rejects the offer of the Baron to join his "Flying Circus" and instead sharpens his skills with "Willie" in games of "chicken' in the air that eventually leads to "Willie's" death. This Major film is worthy of praise. The music by Jerry Goldsmith is probably the best ever made for a war film. The screenplay was based on the famous novel under the same name by Jack Hunter and is different from the book in many ways. The script changes the character to be more of a thorn in the side of his own fellow flyers and accents more of the poor versus rich problems than fighting. The Hunter book has Stachel as a survivor of the war but the film needed a dramatic ending and it is one of the most memorable in Hollywood history, and you will never view a "rubber stamp" in the same way ever again. The DVD is sharp, polished but only carries a few trailers.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hubris Can Only Fly So High June 15 2004
By A Customer
Format:DVD
John Guillermin's 1966 film about Bruno Stachel (George Peppard), a common German soldier during WWI who joins the Luftwaffe. Socially out-of-league with his aristocratic companions and eager for respect, Stachel will stop at nothing in pursuing honor in the form of the Blue Max, the most prestigious aviation medal.
The recurrent theme is hubris/arrogance and how it affects the human condition. All of the characters are driven by ambition and are amoral to a certain degree. Bruno Stachel has the most humble of origins (a peasant who first served in the trenches) and so is the most arrogant of the characters. He knows he's an ace pilot but is unable to earn the respect of his fellow officers because of his low social status. In his mind, he can earn the social respect he covets by earning the medal: then, he feels, people will have no choice but to respect him. Ironically, the respect he obtains is nothing more than the arrogance of others. Arrogance from his superior (James Mason) who needs to create a hero to look good himself as a commanding officer. Mason is quite the pragmatist in creating a hero to the point of letting Stachel sleep with his wife (Ursula Andress)to boost his confidence. The countess needs the fire of a young hot-head like Stachel to fulfill her desires: she only needs her husband to preserve her lofty title of Countess. Unfortunately for Stachel, there's a price for being the hero, and the greatest heroes are often those who die prematurely. Quite aware of this and tired of being cheated on, Mason's character realizes all too well the value of having the glory of a dead war hero illuminate his stale command.
Alltogether a great film with good cinematography.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly A Great Movie April 19 2012
By Daffy Bibliophile TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"The Blue Max" is as much about social class and preserving the old order in a crumbling Germany at the end of the First World War as it is about anything. The death of the old era, the birth of the new.

George Peppard, James Mason, Ursula Andress and Jeremy Kemp are all outstanding in this film. Peppard plays the role of Bruno Stachel; in 1916 Stachel is an infantryman in the German Army lost in the mud and the senseless, anonymous death of trench warfare. He aspires to fly and two years later we find him assigned to a squadron and determined to get his kills and earn the Blue Max, the highest medal Imperial Germany could award. The only problem is that his fellow pilots are all aristocratic blue bloods and Stachel comes from a humble peasant background. His real battle is to win acceptance by the aristocracy and he sees the Blue Max as the way to win this acceptance.
The blue bloods in the German Officer Corps take a more cavalier approach to the war and to winning medals. They believe in class distinctions and chivalry. They represent the old order of aristocratic privilege while Stachel represents the new age just dawning, the age of mass politics and mass culture.
In the end, Stachel gets his medal but not the respect he craved; the aristocrats have used him in a vain attempt to save their world as it vanishes around them.

The film is a delight to watch with outstanding aerial photography and excellent acting by all concerned. Watch for Anton Diffring who also appeared in "Fahrenheit 451" which came out in 1966 as well. Diffring's role is not a key one in "The Blue Max" but I enjoy his acting style and he should get mentioned.

This DVD is the widescreen edition, it comes with French and Spanish available. There is no voiceover from any of the stars or people involved in the production. While there is little in the way of special features on this DVD, the film really doesn't need them, it stands on its own, as a classic.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
nice
Published 1 month ago by Nicolas Forwood
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent .. well done.
A good look at WWI. Well done, The cinematography is excellent. A very good story line keeps you on the edge at times.
Published 5 months ago by William Cook
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be in every collection.
I saw this when it first came to the theaters and remembered it as an excellent movie and wanted to see it again.
Published 5 months ago by Fred B. Woodward
3.0 out of 5 stars Medallic
So many zooming shots of biplanes weaving through the clouds! So much drama! Acting by stoic Germanic types! Everything one needs in a movie.
Published 11 months ago by eeyoore
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Hollywood depiction of a WWI struggle on the Western Front
I have seen this movie before, in the theatre when if first came out and later on as a rental moive, and I enjoy
watching it each time. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Daniel Kuryliak
4.0 out of 5 stars For WWI airplane buffs especially
If you like airplanes, especially WWI types, then you should like this movie. George Peppard is perfectly cast as the arrogant, egotistical, smarmy German pilot who dreams of... Read more
Published on June 18 2004 by K. Gittins
5.0 out of 5 stars This ws a great war flim!
I loved the way they captured the dogfight scenes but also acureatly portrayed Schtal's own oppinions, emoins, and feelings about the war and the invironment around him. Read more
Published on June 6 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the time. Peppard was fine by me.
A really good war movie, perhaps in part because it was so relatively unexplored in film. It is the story of a German working class soldier ("common as dirt", as characterized by... Read more
Published on March 21 2004 by Eric V. Moye
4.0 out of 5 stars An unlikeable hero in an ugly war.
The hero (or anti-hero) is a common German foot soldier turned officer/pilot who tries to outdo the more high born members of his squadron by shooting down 20 planes and winning... Read more
Published on March 14 2004 by KENNY NG
5.0 out of 5 stars A flying fan's movie
If you are a fan of flying or WWI aircraft, this movie is worth the price. The planes steal the show, though, as others have noted, the transfer was made from an apparently... Read more
Published on March 4 2004 by S. M.Silver
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