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I Bet You Didn't See... Von Richthofen and Brown


This is part of the "Roger Corman Series".

Manfred von Richthofen has been considered one of, if not the greatest fighter pilots in history. Portrayed most often flying in his tri-winged Fokker Dr.1 and known as "The Red Baron" by the English, he plagued the Allied air forces during the first world war. He was seriously injured during a battle, and returned against Doctor's orders, and eventually was killed. His exact killer is historically debated.

The film touches on all the aspects of The Red Baron's life as a pilot, with certain aspects stretched, or altered for cinematic effect.

Phillip Law as Von Richthofen

This film takes historical accuracy with a pinch of salt, but pushes the boundaries of film making. Four men died making this film and the main man in charge of the flying sequences and Don Stroud (as Arthur Brown) crashed, almost being killed. But he wouldn't have been the first. The film was briefly suspended after the deaths from accidents during the flying scenes. The flying scenes were filmed in the air, with cameras mounted on planes. However, Stroud and John Phillip Law (as the Baron) were taught basics of flying and landing so all of the flying scenes could be genuine.

Don Stroud as Arthur Brown

Sadly, this was Roger Corman's last directorial for nearly 20 years. As the film was one of Corman's first with a big studio behind it, and found that the studio executives kept stepping in to change things that didn't work for Corman. For example, Roger and his brother, Gene, both had their ideas of who they wanted to play the lead roles (Roger wanted Don Brown as The Baron) but the studio took over and cast Law as The Baron. The Corman's didn't really want to have to dub German accents over their now very American-sounding Germans but after seeing a cut of the film, studio executives wanted to change that. Corman was put off directing by the experience and wouldn't return to the role until 1990.

Not a 1918 farmhouse...

The film itself is good, but not great. I don't know if it is my copy or what, but the dubbed voices did put me off from the beginning. I thought Stroud did well as Brown, but that was it. There really wasn't much acting to in the film to speak of. It did entertain me a lot to see long country tarmac roads and big farmhouses in 1918 occupied France, but that's what you get when you are spoiled with high-tech green screen sets. For what they did in terms of the flying scenes, it was very good. Another very random moment I found in the film was when The Baron is introduced to what will become his iconic plane. He takes a young lady with him to see it, and they end up having a kiss. Initially, a sex scene followed but preview audiences found it funny and awkward, so it was cut. That cut now just makes the romance just random.

The War Movie Buff has a good article on the film.

Directed by: Roger Corman

Written by: John William Corrington, Joyce Hooper Corrington

Starring: John Phillip Law, Don Stroud

Release Date: July 28, 1971

My Rating: 4/10

The Red Baron really did have his corps paint their planes bright colours

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