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Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Hindenburg (1975)

In 1937, when the Third Reich receives information that the zeppelin Hindenburg will explode upon its arrival in the U.S., it takes the threat seriously enough to assign a Luftwaffe Colonel (George C. Scott) as security aboard the airship's transatlantic flight. An unsubstantiated hypothetical "disaster" film based on the horrific Hindenburg disaster when it burst into flames while attempting to land in New Jersey. Unlike other disaster films of the era (POSEIDON ADVENTURE, EARTHQUAKE, TOWERING INFERNO) in which the disaster occurs early in the film, THE HINDENBURG is more like the original AIRPORT (1970) which was essentially a melodrama with a big bang at the end. Indeed, halfway through the film as if sensing it needed something to keep the suspense going, there's a tense sequence where a hole in the airship's fabric needs to be repaired. For the film's fiery finale, the movie switches from color to B&W and is intercut with actual footage from the 1937 disaster. It's effective but the movie shoots itself in the foot with a lame epilogue about fictitious survivors. The film benefits from Robert Surtees Oscar nominated cinematography which gives the film a sumptuous and elegant sheen as well as Edward C. Carfagno's impressive production design. Directed by Robert Wise. The large cast includes Anne Bancroft, Gig Young, Burgess Meredith, William Atherton, Charles Durning, Roy Thinnes, Joanna Moore, Katherine Helmond, Rene Auberjonois and in the film's worst performance, Robert Clary.

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