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The Blue Max [DVD] [1966] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

George Peppard , James Mason , John Guillermin    DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
Price: £5.24
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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Frequently Bought Together

The Blue Max [DVD] [1966] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] + Aces High [DVD] [1976] + The Red Baron [DVD] [2008]
Price For All Three: £26.34

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Product details

  • Actors: George Peppard, James Mason, Ursula Andress, Jeremy Kemp, Karl Michael Vogler
  • Directors: John Guillermin
  • Writers: Basilio Franchina, Ben Barzman, David Pursall, Gerald Hanley, Jack Hunter
  • Producers: Christian Ferry
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Colour, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: 20 May 2003
  • Run Time: 156 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008AOTN
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 243,576 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



The Blue Max is highly unusual among Hollywood films, not just for being a large-scale drama set during the generally cinematically overlooked Great War, but in concentrating upon 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 built 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 (best known for 1974's The Towering Inferno), 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 anti-hero. 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.

On the DVD: The Blue Max DVD's only extra is a very grainy original trailer presented at 1.77:1. However, for the first time the film itself is complete to buy: the reel which was missing from the widescreen video release being restored here. Also included is the original intermission music. The film is presented anamorphically enhanced at a ratio approximating the original 2.35:1 CinemaScope, though some shots clearly have details cropped at the sides of the frame. Picture quality is good with an acceptable level of grain, which increases significantly during the brief back projection shots. There is a little print damage, but nothing too distracting and the aerial photography itself looks wonderful. The four-channel Dolby Prologic sound is excellent for a film of this age, with Jerry Goldsmith's superb score having richness and clarity and providing almost all the emotional impact. --Gary S Dalkin

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Driven by ambition, lust and glory-hunting 16 Feb 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Filmed in Ireland (which explains the somewhat puzzling absence of trenches and mud in many of the aerial dogfighting shots, and the even more puzzling sight of the Irish parliament building in Dublin, a city masquerading as Berlin), this film is interesting in that the First World War's Western Front is merely the backdrop to a story surrounding a man who finds himself fighting not just the enemy (the British in this case), but fighting the attitudes of his fellow aviators.
Bruno Stachel (ably played by George Peppard) is a man who intends to climb not just out of the trenches but into the air, but also in terms of his social status as he does anything he believes appropriate in order to win the so-called "Blue Max", the highest medal the Germans awarded for gallantry until 1918. While his commanding officer, Otto Heidemann (Karl Michael Vogler) detests what he perceives as a low-lifer who totally disregards "how the upper class does things", the Countess von Klugermann (Ursula Andress) finds this man somewhat fascinating purely because she wants something different and wants to know what makes Stachel tick.
It is somewhat puzzling as to why her husband, the General (James Mason), and her nephew, Willi (Jeremy Kemp), do or say nothing to chase away this upstart from this upper-crust man-chaser, yet undoubtedly, in the absence of the actual fighting at the front, the sub-plots needed to work, interwoven as they are with the main plot involving Willi himself, who wins the medal after destroying 20 enemy aircraft.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Very much Room at the Top with biplanes and battlefields instead of bedsits and boardrooms, The Blue Max follows the progress of Bruno Stachel (George Peppard), a former German infantryman who sees becoming an air ace as a means of climbing out of the trenches and up the social ladder. While aristocratic general James Mason uses him to provide the demoralised working class with a hero of their own and the general's wife (Ursula Andress, modelling a line of gravity-defying towels evidently superglued to her nipples) uses him to pass the time, his desire to win the Blue Max, the highest award Germany can give, to prove that he is as good as his condescending, socially superior comrades sets him at odds with Karl Michael Vogler's squadron commander, who simply wants to fight the war with chivalry, and Jeremy Kemp's famous ace.

This is one of those films that should be great but never quite makes it. Part of the problem is the watering down of Jack D. Hunter's original novel, which saw Stachel and his buddy Hermann go on to form Hitler's Luftwaffe, a more convincing conclusion to the class warfare and erosion of aristocratic values that the one the film offers in its place. Similarly Jerry's Goldsmith's beautiful and justly celebrated score found itself equally watered down, with many of his most ambitious and powerful cues either left unused or heavily abridged to fit in more plays of his soaring and euphoric main title (the full score has since been restored on CD, and it's an interesting experiment to play the unused cues alongside the film). Hopefully someday Fox might get round to a special edition with the option to hear the full score as originally intended.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
If you compare the film to the original book they are quite different in many respects. In the book the ruthless ambition of the central character, Bruno Stachel (a pilot in the German Army Air Service) enables him to survive the war while 'better' men are destroyed and, it is implied, that Stachel finds his thoughts and talents perfectly in tune with those of a nascent Nazi leader. The Stachel of the film is killed in the final scene - his ambition destroys him in the end and it is the good men who survive. Perhaps in the 1960s the film world could not quite accept an ending which implied that evil might well triumph after all. George Peppard's Stachel is not quite as successful nor as hard as his model in the written work but Peppard does portray, quite well, this young man's use of the officer corps of the German Army Air Service and his (dishonestly secured) fame as a fighter pilot as a means of escaping from lower middle class mediocrity.

That said this is one of those 'good' flying pictures. OK, we know that some of the aircraft used were Tiger Moths and Stampes painted accordingly though to be fair the film also arranged for replica Fokker DrIs (the famous 'Triplane'), Pfalz DIIIs and Fokker DVIIs to be built especially and they add some solid authenticity (on the other hand, the a/c are camouflaged in schemes that they never wore in service for greater dramatic effect). Nevertheless there are moments in the flying sequences when the camera (and Peppard to be fair) does capture those occassions when (to those of us who love flying) flight can be pure joy.

The very beginning of the picture when Stachel, as an infantryman of the German Army in the trenches of 1916 looks up to see two aircraft dogfighting (and is entranced by the 'silver' spectacle which contrasts with the mud and ooze of his existence), over which Jerry Goldsmith's terrific theme music is slowly introduced, is certainly one of my favourite film moments.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great dvd
Published 26 days ago by mr NP PARISOT-LA-VALETTE
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 28 days ago by Mike darlington
3.0 out of 5 stars Alright, but women involved again.
Alright , but women involved again.
Published 29 days ago by Mr.R.S.Hopkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars A game of ambition and death...
After" Breakfast at Tiffany's" and
"Home from the Hill" this is the best
screen performance of George Peppard. Read more
Published 1 month ago by elisheva guggenheim
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A great fim of its time.
Published 1 month ago by Flutterby
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Typical 70's movie but quite good !
Published 1 month ago by Lars Jönlid
5.0 out of 5 stars cracking
A real boys own adventure flying
Sequences magnificent formidable cast list
A real must for all action film buffs it will
Not dissapoint
Published 3 months ago by steve fraser
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant film
classic war film, great story, top actors, gripping and realistic, one of my favorite war films, lots of brilliant special affects
Published 4 months ago by keef
4.0 out of 5 stars a classic
impeccable cast, superb acting by leading character peppard, great aerial combat scenes, fast paced gritty story, what more could you want
Published 5 months ago by Seamus Carmody
4.0 out of 5 stars good character roles
A film not seen much these days but it has some excellent character roles by some first class actors and actresses
Published 6 months ago by D. N. Pinder
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