We believe, Lt. Brown, that men can be enemies without becoming beasts.
As he had done with The Secret Invasion seven years earlier, Roger Corman went the independent route to make 1971's Von Richthofen and Brown, which was his last film as a director before he turned to producing full-time. (He would return to the director's chair in 1990 to make Frankenstein Unbound, but that was a one-time deal.) Written by John William and Joyce Hooper Corrington (who may or may not have been a husband-and-wife team), the film tells the story of World War I flying ace Baron Manfred von Richthofen (John Phillip Law) and his far from friendly rivalry with Royal Canadian Air Force pilot Roy Brown (Don Stroud), who bucks tradition by refusing to fight a "gentleman's war," much to the chagrin of his commanding officer (Corin Redgrave).
The bread and butter of a film like this are the flying sequences, and Corman ensured that they would be spectacular by using actual vintage World War I airplanes. Unfortunately, the dogfight scenes get monotonous in a hurry, especially in the early going as we almost never see (or hear) the crashes when a plane is shot down. Later on, after both sides have given up the pretense of gentlemanly conduct, there are scenes of carnage and explosions aplenty when they attack each other's airfields. It is in these scenes that the aristocratic Von Richthofen is most starkly contrasted with the infinitely less heroic Hermann Goering (Barry Primus), who represents a dark future for Germany and one that he knows will have no place for him. Maybe that's why he willingly goes into combat one last time before the war can come to a close. After all, nothing befits a legend more than dying a hero's death.