20th Century Fox, 1966. Directed by
John Guillermin. Camera: Douglas Slocombe. With George
Peppard, James Mason, Ursula Andress, Jeremy Kemp, Karl Michael Vogler,
Anton Diffring, Harry Towb, Peter Woodthorpe, Derek Newark, Derren Nesbitt,
Loni von Friedl, Friedrich Ledebur, Carl Schell, Hugo Schuster, Alex Scott,
Roger Ostime, Ray Browne, Timothy Parkes, Ian Kingsley, John Harvey.
Toward the end of World War I, a
newly-trained German fighter pilot, Bruno Stachel, becomes unpopular
with his fellow pilots because of his determination to win the Blue
Max, an award given to German pilots who shoot down 20 enemy planes.
When he captures a British observation plane and cold-bloodedly
shoots it down in order to score a "kill," his action wins the
approval of high-ranking Count von Klugermann, who openly applauds
the will to win at any cost.
Competing with Bruno for top flying
honors is the count's nephew, Willi, who is having an affair with
his uncle's wife, Kaeti. The calculating Bruno not only takes
Kaeti for himself but also maneuvers his rival into a fatal crash
and then claims two of Willi's kills as his own. Now eligible
for the Blue Max, Bruno refuses to leave the country with Kaeti
though he is certain of Germany's eventual defeat.
In revenge, Kaeti exposes his false
claims at the same moment a court-martial is ordered to investigate
Willi's death and other instances of Bruno's disregard for human
life. The count, unwilling to permit the hero to be disgraced,
deliberately permits Bruno to test a new plane he knows to be
faulty. Consequently, Bruno takes flight before a huge crowd
and does a spectacular series of air maneuvers before the plane
breaks apart in mid-air.
The film is based on the novel The Blue Max by Jack D. Hunter
(New York, 1964). It was filmed in Ireland and opened in
London in June 1966.