"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.