According to the rules of the tournaments, the champion is determined by performances in all the previous categories.
Dogfighting Quantity BoB = 10 TBM = 10
Plot BoB = 8 TBM = 8
Realism and Accuracy BoB = 7 TBM = 8
Cliches BoB = 7 TBM = 10
Dialogue BoB = 9 TBM = 8
Effects BoB = 9 TBM = 8
Aircraft BoB = 9 TBM = 10
Dogfight Quality BoB = 9 TBM = 8
Acting BoB = 9 TBM = 7
Pilot Behavior BoB = 8 TBM = 6
Tactics BoB = 8 TBM = 7
Entertainment BoB = 8 TBM = 8
The Blue Max 101
Battle of Britain 98
Well, the tournament finally comes to a close. It took longer than I planned, but I decided to get it right rather than rush it. I watched 23 dogfighting movies in the last month and probably will not watch another for a while. All that reviewing resulted in an excellent matchup in the finals. Looking back at the field, the most deserving two movies made it. And it was an intriguing bout between a battle epic and a fictional pilot-oriented drama.
It could be argued that “Battle of Britain” is the superior war movie, but “The Blue Max” is the better movie about dogfighting. BoB is a movie with dogfighting in it, TBM is a movie about dogfighting. Both films have an admirable quantity and quality of air combat. Both set the gold standard for acquiring an air force representing their war. The intangibles go to “The Blue Max”. The characters are more developed and intriguing. Where BoB has no villains other than the buffoonish Goring, TBM has no heroes. The central character is a heel. The stunt flying in TBM is more remarkable. It is also more dramatic partly because you don’t already know the basic plot and outcome. “Battle of Britain” is strong in historical accuracy, but this also is a weakness as it ends up being a bit stiff. TBM is anything but stiff as it substitutes soap opera dynamics.
Both accomplished their mission admirably, but with their flaws. The truth is that we still do not have the definitive dogfighting movie. This was the weakest tournament so far. None of the movies will be in my 50 Best War Movies. The great dogfighting movie is still waiting to be made. Perhaps when CGI becomes more lifelike and less like what we got in “Flyboys” and “Red Tails”. Until that day, let’s commend the finalists for their use of actual aircraft, stunt pilots, and cinematically choreographed dogfights. We will never see their type again.