The Sights & Sounds of The Blue Max on Blu + CD

March 26, 2014 | By

BlueMaxIn an example of perfect timing, the film and music of The Blue Max are available on Blu-ray and CD, respectively, showcasing the artistry of this mini-epic which has aged surprisingly well since its release in 1966.

Admittedly the big draw is the aerial footage – Blue Max features some of the best WWI dogfights ever put on film – as there’s no true romance or likeable central character in this cold film, but that’s part of its allure. The cynicism, emotional reserve, and hyper-focus on one man’s arrogant quest to become Germany’s greatest fighter pilot are very atypical for what should’ve been a film where good triumphs over evil.

Bruno Stachel isn’t a foul man; he’s an opportunist who enjoys taking prizes away from rivals, and shoving failure in their faces. George Peppard is very well suited for the role of Stachel, as is James Mason as the manipulative General who uses the young pilot in a staged propaganda campaign. Ursula Andress is ravishing in extravagant costumes, and director John Guillermin (The Towering Inferno, King Kong) filmed some of the weirdest love scenes with unsubtle partial nudity for the European version used in Fox’ 2003 DVD and Twilight Time’s new Blu-ray edition. (TT also released Guillermin’s Rapture in 2012.)

Given most fans grew up watching The Blue Max on TV via grainy TV prints, the widescreen DVD was a welcome reward for all those bad panned & scanned mono prints, but TT’s BR is a revelation for the colours, the detail, and the rich sound that flatters Jerry Goldsmith’s epic score.

La-La Land Records have been mining the composer’s work for the past few years – The Challenge (1982), Bandolero! (1968), and Rio Lobo (1970) being some recent efforts – and their Blue Max 2-disc set features both a new remastering of the score in its most complete form + alternate cues.

Coming right up: a review of Pura vida – The Ridge (2012), which recently screened at the Bloor Hot Docs cinema.





Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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