I enjoy Roger Corman’s bigger mainstream movies like The Secret Invasion (one of my faves!) and St. Valentines Days Massacre, but I never got a chance to see Von Richthofen and Brown until this weekend. Now, this movie might lack in a good coherent story and the acting (or more the accents) are very uneven, but Corman is such a gifted director that he makes us forget about the bad things and delivers some amazing action sequences.
John Phillip Law is Von Richthofen, aka The Red Baron, and Don Stroud is Brown, a Canadian mechanic working for the brits. As an aristocrat, Von Richthofen is obsessed by being the perfect soldier and is making one risky mission after the other. Brown is a cynic, a realist, and have big problems facing the uptight brits who belives they are doing something for their country by dying in battle. These two men will finally meet in a battle to the death…
The story is all over the place, and it never feels like it holds together properly. Sometimes it’s just aerial footage with narration, sometimes it seem like the story takes huge leaps in time, but it’s never really clear if it does. But if you take every scene and make it a stand alone piece, it looks fantastic.
As usual the budget was low for such a historical movie, approximate 900 000 dollars. But it feels a lot bigger, and has action-scene after action-scene. The aerial fights is top-notch with almost no back-projection at all. The actors seem to be up there, which makes it a lot more realistic. Here and there Corman also delivers some juicy and quite bloody ground-attacks with a lot of exploding houses and a high body count.
It’s no surprise this is a great popcorn-movie. Visually and action this is the best I’ve. The budget isn’t the highest, but creativity and talent always win over buckets of money.