Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Von Richtofen" falls flat

Cleveland Press July 17, 1971

"Von Richtofen and Brown" is about a couple of flying aces of World War I but oddly has neither very much action nor any drama to recommend it.

Best thing in the movie is the aerial photography;with the flimsy, fabric covered British and German planes engaging in dog fights.

But even here the movie falls short since a number of aerial shots seem to be repeated several times so that it is difficult to separate one dogfight from another.

JOHN PHILLIPS LAW plays the legendary Red Baron in his usual expressionless fashion. Law, an actor who hasn't been able to inject much feeling in lines he speaks in straight English, is horrible as he flounders in and out of a German accent.

As the Canadian flier who supposedly shot down Von Richtofen (a fact that is in doubt) Don Stroud shows a little more acting ability.

But in this movie a little goes a long way, everyone sounds so artificial.

Neither character is brought into sharp focus. Von Richtofen is presented as an aristocrat fighting a gentleman's war. For a heavy you have to look to a young Lieutenant named Hermann Goering who is always at odds with him.

BROWN is a country boy who hates war but decides to fight it the best way he can. His attitude -- he won't drink a toast to the enemy -- makes him an outcast among British officers who also look upon war as a game for gentlemen.

The movie tries to say something about the brutalizing effects of war but the message gets lost.

Basically the trouble with "Von Richtofen and Brown" is that it is a dull movie.