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Brian G. Hutton,
David J. Stewart
World War I: an allied squadron and a German squadron face off daily in the skies. Manfred von Richtofen, the Red Baron, leads one, and, although one of his decisions cost the life of his predecessor, he expects his men to honor codes of conduct. The allied squad has similar class divisions: its colonel, an aristocrat, laments that men he considers peasants are now fliers, including a cynical and ruthless Canadian, Roy Brown, the squad's ace. As the tactics of both sides break more rules and become more destructive, the Baron must decide if he is a soldier first or part of the ruling class. He and Brown have two aerial battles, trivial in the larger scheme yet tragic. Written by
Stunt pilot Charles Boddington was killed during filming when the vintage biplane he was flying crashed at Weston aerodrome near Dublin. The following day, another aircraft crashed, injuring pilot Lynn Garrison and actor Don Stroud. See more »
Hermann Goering was not assigned to the Flying Circus until he took over as its commander several months after Manfred von Richthofen's death. Also, his later reputation notwithstanding, there is no evidence that Goering ever machine-gunned civilians or committed other atrocities as a World War One fighter pilot. See more »
[Walking away from another pilot after an argument on the firing range, when the other officer turns his machine gun to Brown but does not use it]
What's the matter? You can't shoot a man in the back if he's not in a plane?
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The flying sequences alone make this a film well worth seeing. They are much like those in The Battle Of Britain except, of course, the aircraft are of World War I vintage. It's also encouraging that Roy Brown was portrayed as a Canadian (which he was) rather than an American. The man had some very rough edges and these are portrayed in the film. (In one unrelated incident, he almost got court martialed for buzzing Picadilly Circus.) In other words Brown was not shown as some sort of handsome Hollywood knight of the sky but a very rough, arrogant, unsophisticated and even unpleasant individual. Good! Thats how it was. Better by half than most war films of its era.
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