The Blue Max (1966)

Genres - Drama, War  |   Sub-Genres - War Drama  |   Release Date - Jun 21, 1966 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 156 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Anyone looking for simply stunning aerial action sequences need look no further than The Blue Max, in which such sequences are among the finest ever captured on film. Director John Guillermin and cinematographers Skeets Kelly and Douglas Slocombe are out to dazzle (albeit in the service of the story which they are telling), and dazzle they certainly do. They fill the wide screen with action and movement, whether of the exteriors of the planes as they perform their daring maneuvers or from the vantage point of inside the cockpit (giving an extra special thrill to the viewer). Tracking shots go in unexpected places, and even the backgrounds feature surprising and telling details. This trio was going for thrills, and they deliver in spades. Happily, Guillermin doesn't limit his visual prowess to the aviation sequences, but finds clever ways to utilize the CinemaScope even when only two figures are sharing the frame. If these "grounded" scenes had the dramatic power of the airborne ones, Max would rank in the absolute top ranks of adventure films. Unfortunately, the actual story that holds the aerial sequences is confusing and poorly told, a situation that is not helped by lead George Peppard's wooden acting. The rest of the cast, notably the excellent James Mason and the beautiful Ursula Andress, turn in solid performances, which helps matters considerably. Even with its flaws, Max is well worth seeing for those amazing flight sequences.