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World War I: an allied squadron and a German squadron face off daily in the skies. Manfred von Richthofen, 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
In the film, Von Richthofen was shot and wounded on the skull while fighting against British single-seater scouts. In fact, on July 6, 1917, he was shot on the skull and seriously wounded by a bullet fired by the observer's gun of a British F.E. 2 two-seater. 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 name of the German ace that brought Richthofen into his squadron at the beginning of the film was spelled wrongly as "Boelke" in the credits. His name was Oswald BOELCKE. See more »
John Philipp Law and Don Stroud respectively play the two men named in this film's original title, Von Richtofen And Brown, and presents a fairly balanced and interesting set of parallels and divergences between the two men. As World War One rages to its conclusion, Von Richtofen and Brown head on a collision course towards their fateful encounter in the air.
Corman's production is a bit dated, and purists will point out many technical and historical errors in the film. Flight and combat sequences, however, are exciting, extremely well-conceived and filmed, and surpass most efforts before or since to show film-goers aerial combat of the First World War.
I saw this film at a drive-in when it was first released, and it still fascinates me to this day. While other more-expensive productions, with their sumptuous sets and A-list actors, continue to command the attention of film viewers and film collectors alike, I find the simple, sparing lines of this production far more effective as the vehicle for one of history's most famous duels. True, by now most historians have abandoned the notion that the fatal bullets came from Brown; however, this is the tale of popular culture as it was told for generations, not as nuclear scientists have most lately emended it.
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