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People Topics related to WWI aviation personnel

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Old 27 February 2004, 04:51 PM   #1
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Dear Members of the Aerodrome--

I have read posts from this forum with great interest over the last several months. Clearly there is tremendous interest in and knowledge on the subject of WWI aviation. I have long been fascinated with the subject myself and find it rich with material for the big screen.

As a screenwriter, I am often relegated to penning the visions of others (book authors, producers, directors, etc.). But six months ago I began research for a story that is rooted in my own passion -- WWI aviation (the men, the planes, the war, the wives and sweethearts left behind, the politics, the socio-economics, the weapons, etc.)

The script will be a white-knuckle ride to be sure, but with dramatic overtones. There is so much room for both within the realm of this subject. Indeed, my greatest task will be in narrowing the story down to fit within the scope of a two-hour film.

My question to you is this: What pilot or story would you most like to see up on the big screen? And why? Who is your favorite pilot, what did he do that makes you like him so much, what kind of character did he have, what kind of battles did he fight and why do you think his story would make a great film?

I have many pilots on my short list (it's not so short), but I wanted to hear from you, the real aficionados. Please respond via post or e-mail. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Old 27 February 2004, 04:59 PM   #2
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I think the von Richthofen brothers would make a good movie. You can use the book "Mother of Eagles' as a basis or a research book.

With Manfred, you can show his devotion to duty that eventually cost him his life. Not many take a shot in the head and live to tell about it, let alone return to full duty as a combat commander.

With Lothar, you can show his always living under his brothers shadow, but due to his aggressiveness, how he was able to shoot more planes down faster than his brother and how he too was injured and continued to return to duty.

As for the rest of the Jasta, there are many bit players you can use. Voss, Wolff, etc.

Just an idea.

"The dogs bark, but the train keeps going. "----Russian Proverb
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Old 27 February 2004, 06:34 PM   #3
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For what its worth, the FLJr story would be the one most suited for screening to an American audience.

Based on the success of Seabiscuit, I would even venture to say the Harriet Quimby story would make a good profit and possibly be the screenplay I would write if I were literately inclined.

The remake of TBM is something all of us would love to cast.

Meanwhile Voss and Wolff are spinning in their graves after being dubbed "bit players" by Pmirl.


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Old 27 February 2004, 08:04 PM   #4
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Frank Luke is a natural.

No idea why that has not yet made the screen.
Many Europeans may scoff - they're truly are pilots way over FL's achievement but his few weeks is one of the best of that war.
Other candidates (but not from Marketing):


I even have Luke's in my head right now, writing this. Have the opening scene in my mind and can almost see the shots, the edits...weird.
That movie is a slam dunk - it very much would get the same kind of play Seabiscuit just rec'd.
"A King may move a man, a father may claim a son,
but remember that even when those who move you be Kings,
or men of power, your soul is in your keeping alone.
When you stand before God, you cannot say,
"But I was told by others to do thus."
Or that,
"Virtue was not convenient at the time."

This will not suffice.."

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Old 27 February 2004, 08:42 PM   #5
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Sorry Rod,

I didn't mean to relinquish them to the back seat!

"The dogs bark, but the train keeps going. "----Russian Proverb
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Old 27 February 2004, 10:17 PM   #6
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Frank Luke's story is nearly perfect as a subject for a screen play.

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Old 28 February 2004, 06:20 AM   #7
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I agree that a movie about Luke would probably be the surest draw- in the U.S. at any rate. Still, there is almost an unlimited supply of material from which screenwriters can work with. One of the factors that makes WW1 air of such intrest is the blend of distinctive and highly individualized personalities. It drew dutiful men, mavericks, adventurers, idealists and opportunists together.
The Lafayette Escadrille is a parade ground of such a mix. But probably too difficult a task to due justice to in a couple of hours. I have always thought the ideal format for WW1 air would be in the form of a mini-series such as "Band of Brothers" or "From the Earth to the Moon". In which an individual pilot could be the center of each segment. I think the difficulty in making a movie on the subject would lie in the temptation to bite off too much at once or to fall back into a pulp novel format. A movie that is well done cannot miss. It is drama in its exterme form without adding anything.
I suppose the movie I would like to see most, if there could only be one, would be as pmirl suggests on Manfred von Richthofen. He is representative to me of the effect of WW1. In which an age destroyed itself out of a sense of duty and allowed a new order (brash and incomplete) not so much to usurp it, but to fill in the void left by the others self-destruction.
"In the final analysis, war is far more than an extension of politics. It is the most complex, demanding, and unpredictable of all human endeavors - as learned from 1914 to 1918." - from (with slight alteration) the introduction of "Pyrrhic Victory" by Robert A. Doughty (US Army Ret.).

"Frankly, I had enjoyed the war." Adrian Carton de Wiart
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Old 28 February 2004, 07:36 AM   #8
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"Duel Over Douai" (aka "Tomorrow's Dead") is a Work In Progress by three poor but honest writer-pilots...

Other than that, concur that Luke is screaming to be done--well. Production advantages: it can be made with as few as 2-3 "star" airplanes (N.28s and SPAD 13s plus CGIs) and authentic German balloons--one or two likely could suffice.

There's tons of knowledge available on this forum including The Luke Authority, our very own Stephen.

To repeat: it needs to be done well, not always a Hollywood concern.

High production value topic: Zeps, Gothas & Giants over London. The potential visual images are awesome.
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Old 28 February 2004, 07:46 AM   #9
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I agree that the Frank Luke story would be the best film - why it has never been done before is a mystery to me. I read over the years that a few screenplays have been written, but never picked up for a film. T he true story is perfect - a short timeframe, classic loner & anti-hero who loses his only friend, and disobeys orders to get revenge. The final battle will have to be a little bit of artistic licence, but I can see him dueling it out with a squad of German infantrymen until his .45 runs out of ammo!
There are several decent SPAD 13 replicas, and I'm sure Hollywood could afford to build a few more, accuracy in the aircraft is my main problem with most Holywood movies. Computer generated graphics like those used in Pearl Harbor could be used to have the large scale dogfights and baloon busting missions undertaken in Sept. 1918.
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Old 28 February 2004, 08:53 AM   #10
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I know of at least two FL screenplays; there may well be more.

The Last Scene of course lends itself to the "accepted" version of events: bags two Fokkers, strafes soldaten in town, dies in shootout with the Germans from "Mangels'" AA battery. I suppose if that's the biggest criticism of the final product, we should all be pretty happy.

After all, the last decent WW I aero flick was released 38 years ago!

Howsomever, an innovative/trendy concept might be two endings tipping the ol' Stetson to TMWSLV. If *I* were writing the script I'd show what Really Happened versus The Legend. "This is still the west, sir, and when fact becomes legend, we print the legend."

(BTW: still no word on my WW II script, completed about 3 years ago, but I didn't expect anything to happen very soon, if a'tall. The producers were insistent that patience is a virtue!)
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