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The Blue Max
The Blue Max
Actors: George Peppard, James Mason, Ursula Andress, Jeremy Kemp, Karl Michael Vogler
Director: John Guillermin
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
UR     2003     2hr 36min

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 oth...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: George Peppard, James Mason, Ursula Andress, Jeremy Kemp, Karl Michael Vogler
Director: John Guillermin
Creators: Christian Ferry, Basilio Franchina, Ben Barzman, David Pursall, Gerald Hanley, Jack Hunter, Jack Seddon
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Classics, Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Military & War
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 05/20/2003
Original Release Date: 06/21/1966
Theatrical Release Date: 06/21/1966
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 2hr 36min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Movie Reviews

Worth the time. Peppard was fine by me.
Eric V. Moye | New York, by way of Dallas | 03/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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 his General, played by James Mason) named Bruno Stachell (who is well-portrayed with icy self- assurance by George Peppard) man. Stachell leaves the trenches in World War One and becomes an ace in the German flying corps which is populated by officers and gentlemen. His obsession is a medal - hence the film's title - awarded to aces, and his colleagues, commanders and the British Air Force won't keep him from it.Predictably, he rebels even as he never fits in with his comrades. It is illustrated well by his response to his first kill (which sadly goes unconfirmed even after he went scouring the countryside for the plane he shot down). He "responds" by getting his first confirmed kill by shooting down the next enemy plane over his own airfield. While his betters who populate the squadron never cease to remind him of his place, he continues up the ranks to best them all while ridiculing their so-called code of honor. "Chivalry?" he sneers. "To kill a man and then make a ritual out of saluting him is hypocrisy."It has great flying battle scenes. Also, a wonderful supporting cast including the aforementioned Manson, his slutty aristocratic wife (the magnificent Ursula Andress) and a stick-up-the-butt colleague/rival fellow officer (Jeremy Kemp). Karl Vogler plays von Heiderman, the Commanding Officer who refuses to let go of his notions of warfare with honor, in the face of the barbaric commencement of the 20th century.I disagree with the reviewer who says Peppard was out of his depth in this role. He plays the part of the anti-hero very well. I was even more impressed after reading that he did his own flying in this film.It is very long, but worth the time."
Top of the Line War Flick!
dirk | Warren, Ohio USA | 09/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've seen most war flicks and this one from 1966 is definitely one of my personal favorites (other favorites include Apocalypse Now, Where Eagles Dare, Platoon, The Eagle has Landed, etc.). "The Blue Max" is about a World War I German Soldier, Bruno Stachel (George Peppard), who "graduates" from ignoble trench warfare to the aristocratic air officer corps. Stachel is naturally a fish out of water with his new higher class comrades-in-arms; but this doesn't seem to bother him one iota. Stachel is only interested in gunning down twenty enemy planes to get the coveted Blue Max, Germany's Medal of Honor. In fact, he is so focused on this goal that he'll do anything to achieve it, honorably or dishonorably. The vibe of the movie is ultra-realistic. Critics of the flim have complained that Stachel is an unlikable character and therefore not a very good hero to root for. It is true that Stachel doesn't seem very friendly (how friendly would you be with high-class "gentlemen" after years of brutal trench warfare?). It's also true that he's selfishly ambitious (he totally rebels against the team spirit of his squadron). He's also an alcoholic and an adulterer. But as the German general played by James Mason states: he's brave, ruthless and driven -- exactly what Germany needs at the closing months of the war.People who make the above criticism miss the point. Real life offers up few perfect heroes to root for. People, situations and motives are more complex than this. And this pic nobly attempts to be a realistic portrayal of air combat in World War I. In other words, the story should just simply be digested as is without looking for a hero. The movie is universally praised for its scenic and compelling air combat scenes, but some folks inexplicably criticize the drama on the ground. Personally, I find the ground story equally as interesting as the air fighting. Besides, mindless non-stop action movies are for juveniles (of course, like any guy I have MY juvenile moods).Other highlights include a brief appearance of the Red Baron, the ravishing Ursula Andress (Undress?) as the general's adulterous wife and an excellent musical score by (Jerry Goldsmith (who else?).The cinematography and locations (Ireland) are excellent. The overall look of the movie is cold, dark, cloudy and wet. In other words, kind of depressing. But, of course, World War I was no happy day at the beach!The Blue Max is truly a movie of epic scope; definitely one of THE GREAT war movies. I highly recommend it."
Chivalry's Last Gasp
Tim Hitchner | Vancouver B.C., Canada | 09/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Jack Hunter created the ultimate anti-hero in the character of Bruno Stachel, the central figure in a trilogy of novels that follow his exploits through two world wars and beyond. I can still remember my reaction upon reading "The Blue Max" for the first time as a kid, and the excitement when the movie with George Peppard in the starring role came out. As usual, the book delves into much greater detail insofar as character development is concerned, i.e. 'getting behind the eyes' of the characters as it were - one example of which is Stachel's twisted relationship with corporal Rupp in the novel, while Rupp is barely mentioned once in the film. It's the dying days of World War I and the aristocratic Imperial German Air Service is about the only place left where it can be fought with dignity and chivalry.... at least that's what appears to drive a common-as-dirt foot soldier (Stachel) out of the trenches and into a fighter squadron on the Western Front. Empires are dying and the old lines dividing class against class are not far behind. The pursuit of the Pour le Merite, or "Blue Max", is something Stachel once craved almost as a badge, to prove he was just as good as his higher-born comrades; but now he finds himself pulled along by the Imperial propaganda machine to be used more and more as a tool to boost public morale as his fame grows. Soon chivalry becomes nothing more than a bad joke as Germany's defeat becomes inevitable. The aerial photography is quite stunning, a point many have made before - and it's true. The attention to detail when it comes to uniforms, recreation of battles, location and authenticity is very well done. Military buffs may still find the odd gaffe here and there, but by and large they really do this one right. Ursula Andress spices things up (which I suppose is to be expected when a book is translated to film), James Mason is his usual classy self, and Jeremy Kemp turns in a great Willi von Klugermann. World War I aviation enthusiasts will find little to complain about here, German military aviation afficianados will be pleased as well, probably due in large part to Jack Hunter doing his homework so well in the original novel. As far as military spectacle goes, there's nothing here that looks phony. They just don't make 'em like this any more. Highly recommended...still!"
World War One's Answer to "Top Gun"
Kevin R. Austra | Delaware Valley, USA | 09/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Rarely has the Great War ever been expressed on the wide screen as done in THE BLUE MAX. The air war is viewed from the German point of view with George Peppard in the starring role. Peppard portrays German lieutenant Stachel, the son of a working class family who rises from the mud-soaked enlisted infantry ranks to that of the privilaged pilot officer corps. Ruthless in his pursuit of Germany's highest decoration, the Pour Le Merit known as the Blue Max, Stachel violates the chivalrous confines of the air war to the point of insubordination. Stunning aerial combat sequences and beautiful Irish countryside (doubling for the front lines in France 1918) make this definitely a film worth watching. A great supporting cast, many of whom are regulars in war movies of the 1960's and 1970's, add considerable talent to this bold film. Indeed, Jeremy Kemp and George Peppard previously costarred in 1965's OPERATION CROSSBOW. Kemp would again play the role of a German officer in the 1980's television miniseries WAR AND REMEMBERANCE. Actor James Mason already perfected his recurring film roles as a German General in two previous films (in both of which he played German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel) and adds a powerful performance in THE BLUE MAX. Jerry Goldsmith's soundtrack is nothing less than spectacular. This World War One classic ranks highly with ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT and WHAT PRICE GLORY."