Review: The Blue Max

The Blue Max - 1966

The Blue Max – 1966

The 1966 movie, The Blue Max, stands out in my mind as the only movie I can think of without a hero.

I watched The Blue Max last week (okay I admit it, I have it on DVD). I am a huge fan of aviation films and this one is all about a German Air Force pilot in World War I. Skip the bits about aircraft if that is not your thing but that’s not the main point of this review.

Briefly, Bruno Stachel is an infantry corporal in the trenches. From a working class background, he nevertheless longs for the noble arena if death in the skies and enlists for the German Air Force. He proves a talented pilot but his new squadron of officers, enlisted from the ruling classes, do not accept his ambitious ruthlessness. They have a strict code of conduct, which he breaks in many ways, including bedding the top scoring Willi’s aunt and lover, the Countess Kaeti. Willi’s nobility, until now, has extended to taking Stachel under his wing but now the gloves are off and the two duel for supremacy in the skies and in bed.

Kaeti is herself ambitious and enjoys the titillation of bedding pilots whose lives are on the line. Her husband, the taciturn General Count von Klugermann, beautifully underplayed by James Mason, encourages her liaisons and appears to use her to control his aces. However, Kaeti overreaches herself with dire consequences.

Kaeti is played beautifully by Ursula Andress. If ever proof were needed that she really could act, and act superbly, this film is it. I have rarely seen a film in which you see a woman reaching adulthood in a single moment as poignantly as you do with Andress in the final scene.

Mason is of course excellent throughout, as is Jeremy Kemp as Willi, but its George Peppard’s part I want to focus on. Peppard is naturally morose and always has a sour look on his face so he must have been the natural choice for Stachel, whose ambition quickly becomes cruel in the face of the prejudice surrounding him. Peppard turns in a fine performance and thoroughly deserved his nomination for a Golden Laurel award. But it’s the director’s handling of the character that is astonishing, and in some ways perplexing.

I cannot think of another leading character in a movie that is less likable than Stachel. He is not even badass enough or gritty enough to be an anti-hero. He is over-ambitious, a liar and cheat, a traitor to just about anybody who gets close to him, probably ashamed of his parents although he denies it (probably another lie) and ultimately proved to be a fool by Kaeti. Indeed, it is she that claims she likes his ‘innocence’ but if she does, it can only be a foolishly ambitious innocence. Her naivety is found out at the end of the film but its not Stachel but von Klugermann who reveals it.

Apart from being a good pilot, Stachel has no redeeming features. Stachel’s good looks mean that bedding the gorgeous Kaeti is no achievement. How on earth then does the film hold together? It certainly does and its a masterpiece of tight direction and high tension action. Perhaps, because it was made at the height of the anti-war movement in America, the director simply wanted to make a heavily disguised anti-war film. He certainly succeeded there. All the main characters suffer terribly. But this still doesn’t explain how a ‘no hero’ film holds together so well. I tried to decided who is the hero in this film and there really isn’t one. You just have to watch it yourself and let me know what you think.

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Lazlo Ferran Interview

In case you missed it, here is the interview I recorded on 13 July for The Authors Show, in which I talk about writing and Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate:

Let me have your feedback!

Want to hear Lazlo Ferran Interviewed Today?

Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate

Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate

Here’s the my interview, during which I discuss my writing and the Ordo Lupus series in particular.

[UPDATE: CLICK ON POST ABOVE OR ‘INTERVIEW’ IF YOU WANT TO HEAR MY INTERVIEW. IT WAS ONLY UP ON THE AUTHORS SHOW WEBSITE FOR ONE DAY. THIS POST IS LEFT IN ITS ORIGINAL STATE FOR HISTORIC REASONS]

It should just start playing.

Please let me know what you think and share it around. Hop on over there. It’s only up today! http://www.wnbnetworkwest.com/WnbAuthorsShow1.html

If the link above doesn’t work, go here:
http://www.wnbnetworkwest.com/WnbAuthorsShow.html

Click on the underlined text next to my name in the short list (5-6) of inrterviews underneath the subtitle Broadcast Schedule.

Then on the subsequent page you will need to click on the correct interview in the grey box near the top (under the list of featured authors), which has forward and back and play buttons, much like a cassette tape deck.

Lotus Free and Attack Hitler’s Bunker down to 99 cents for Independence Day weekend!!

Short post this weekend because I am hard at work on the June Newsletter. This month: no less than 3 chances to win free books and one of those gives you the chance to spend an hour with me onlie for an interview and keep a copy of the interview to share with your friends! There is still time to sign up for the Newsletter here – If you sign up before Friday 10 July, I will send you a copy of this month’s Newsletter. After that, no dice!

Two other things to mention for this Independence Day in the USA:

Lotus: (Enter the Labyrinth - Satan's Fatal Puzzle)

Lotus: (Enter the Labyrinth – Satan’s Fatal Puzzle)

Lotus
Lotus is Free from today 3 July until 7 July at 8am EST.
Lotus is an encounter between a soul and Satan. Satan uses every trick possible to torture the soul, who is reincarnated at Satan’s whim but eventually Game Theory proves the undoing of one of them! Click here to get the deal!

 

 

 

 

Attack Hitler's Bunker!

Attack Hitler’s Bunker!

Attack Hitler’s Bunker!
This wartime thriller has just been accepted for translation and distribution in China so to celebrate, I am offering it in an Amazon Countdown Deal. This means it will drop to 99 cents from 8am on 4 July and gradually climb back up to its usual price of $2.99 by 11 July 12am PST. So hurry because it will only be at 99 cents for a day or two! Click here to get the deal!