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
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.Read more ›