By 1970, Roger Corman had made, as a director and/or producer, over one hundred pictures in only 16 years. Past the age of 40 and feeling distanced from the younger, hungrier New Hollywood that he had helped to create, Corman turned his attention to a tale of the death of gallantry in World War I with Von Richthofen and Brown
(1971). Breaking with longtime distributers American International Pictures, Corman brokered a deal with United Artists, who ponied up an almost million dollar budget and a location in the unspoiled Irish countryside (doubling for provincial France) but nixed Corman's casting choices of Don Stroud as German flying ace Manfred von Richthofen and Bruce Dern as Roy Brown, the lowly RCAF mechanic who brings him to ground. Shifting Stroud to the role of Brown, UA brought in Barbarella
(1968) star John Phillip Law to play "the Red Baron." To maximize his budget, Corman used biplanes left over from The Blue Max
(1966) and Darling Lily
(1969) and acted as his own second unit director, capturing all of the flying sequences in two weeks. Having made the artistic choice to use American actors to play Germans, Corman was dismayed to have the film taken out of his hands in postproduction, where all of the German characters were revoiced to sound more Teutonic. Rather than feeling rejuvenated by the experience, Corman felt betrayed and discouraged and did not return again to the director's chair for twenty years.
By Richard Harland Smith
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