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  • Probably the best thing that I can say about this film is that it was, near as I can recall, the thing that first got me interested in Zeppelin history when I was about 9 years old. That's been over a quarter of a century now, and the old "armchair Zep historian" trip is still a favorite hobby of mine.

    It would be really easy for me to go into Ubergeek mode and nitpick every little thing about this flick (I'll try my best to spare you folks that and save it for when I've knocked back a few with a couple of my Zep buddies) but when it comes right down to it, this movie could be a lot worse.

    I mean yes, it has a lot of flaws, not the least of which is its reliance on a fictionalized version of a sabotage theory which itself is perhaps one of the most elaborate, ethically-suspect works of fiction presently connected with Zeppelin history. The story goes that a young crew member named Erich Spehl (renamed "Karl Boerth" in the movie, apparently for legal reasons) fell in with the anti-Nazi resistance via a mysterious older woman he was dating at the time of the disaster, and the two of them cooked up a plan whereby he would sabotage the ship at its mooring mast at Lakehurst, in full view of the American press, so as to get international publicity for the resistance movement. The Hindenburg was late in landing, the timer on the bomb malfunctioned, (neither of the two authors who originally flogged this theory in their books ever really worked out that little detail of how the bomb went off as the ship landed) and the ship burned, killing Spehl in the process.

    As I said, this theory is definitely hogwash, and I've come to suspect that those who originally concocted it and passed it off as historical fact probably knew it was hogwash too. But, this is the sort of plot that sells books and puts asses in theatre seats, so this is what Wise and his screenwriters decided to go with. They didn't invent the theory, they merely optioned a book ("The Hindenburg" by Michael Mooney) which was a retelling of the original Spehl theory (which appeared in A. A. Hoehling's "Who Destroyed The Hindenburg?")

    Purely as a 1970s disaster film, this one isn't bad. It's got all the bases covered: lavish sets and costumes; big-name stars portraying a cast of characters from various walks of life, complete with various interconnecting personal dramas designed to heighten the pathos of "I wonder who gets it in the end?" for the audience; and a special-effects laden disastrous climax.

    As far as the execution of the whole thing goes, it's definitely a mixed bag. The script could have used a good bit of work before they shot it, but then that also seems to be par for the course with most 1970s disaster flicks. A lot of the dialogue is fairly stilted, and some of the lines are just terrible. Perhaps the one that bugs me the most is when Ritter (the Luftwaffe colonel in charge of security) finally gets Boerth (the saboteur) to tell him where the bomb is, Boerth replies with the meaningless phrase "Repair Patch 4" and Ritter, who apparently had never set foot on a Zeppelin before the beginning of the flight, conveniently runs straight to where the bomb is hidden... under a tiny in-flight repair patch on the side of Gas Cell #4 (which itself was 10-15 stories tall). That the big "Aha!" moment when Ritter finally learns where the bomb is hidden is garbled by lazy, sloppy writing like this always makes me cringe when I watch this movie, and unfortunately that's fairly indicative of the level of screenwriting throughout the film.

    Various characters are renamed versions of actual passengers and crew from the last flight, some are amalgams of a couple different actual people, some even retain the same names as the people on whom they're based... and others are simply invented for the sake of the movie. Colonel Franz Ritter (George C. Scott) is based upon a Luftwaffe colonel named Fritz Erdmann who was aboard the last flight to observe long-range navigational practices used by the Hindenburg's crew (and who was erroneously presented in at least one "historical" Hindenburg book as having been assigned to the flight to watch for saboteurs); crewman Karl Boerth (William Atherton), of course, is based on the "sabotage theory" version of crewman Erich Spehl; the Countess (Anne Bancroft) seems to be very loosely based on a passenger by the name of Margaret Mather; Gestapo snitch Martin Vogel (Roy Thinnes) was basically invented as an obstacle for Ritter to have to deal with; the Breslau family was based on the real-life Doehner family; crewman Ludecke (Peter Canon) seems to be something of a loose amalgam of a couple of real-life Nazi-connected crew members who flew on the Hindenburg, but basically he was invented as a flunkie for Vogel.

    And on and on and on.

    A few things about the film do work for me. First, I think that George C. Scott was one of those actors who could lend even the worst film a bit of dramatic weight, and in this movie he actually takes what was written as a fairly one-dimensional character and breathes some real life into it. As a Luftwaffe pilot who is ill at ease with the increasing excesses of the Nazi regime, Scott creates a rather human, sympathetic character. His scenes with Anne Bancroft are some of the few which actually seem to work in this movie.

    I also quite like David Shire's music score. Most of the musical pieces in the film are variations on the Main Title Theme, though there are a few distinct separate themes (notably the romantic piece played during the scenes between Ritter and the Countess, the piece played while the crewmen repair the ripped fabric on the fin, and what I always think of as the "Gestapo" theme, which seems to be used when the film cuts back to Germany for scenes such as the one where Boerth's girlfriend is arrested in Frankfurt). And then there's the odd little vaudeville tune performed by Reed Channing and Joe Spah at the concert Channing holds for the passengers and crew. It's certainly consistent with what an American might have thought of and known about the Nazis in 1937 (concentration camps, for example, were already in use for political dissidents and "intellectuals" by '37) but it still feels kind of like the producers just said "We want a show tune in here... write us something!" By and large, though, the music in this film is quite good. I only wish it were available on CD.

    Finally, and most importantly, the set design in this film, particularly the full-size recreation of various parts of the interior of the Hindenburg, is absolutely amazing. If you want to see what it looked like to walk around inside the Hindenburg, watch this movie. There are a few minor inconsistencies with the actual design of the ship (a pair of ladders which led down into the lower fin of the actual ship was changed in the film into a long set of stairs running up inside the leading edge of the fin, I assume for dramatic purposes) but for the most part Wise's set designers used the original designs of the ship and recreated them, right down to the rivets in some places. The only thing that they apparently got wrong unintentionally is the dark blue/green color of the girders in the interior of the ship. They seem to have gotten this from pieces of girder salvaged from the actual Hindenburg wreck, and what they recreated was the scorched color of the original bright turquoise blue lacquer which coated the girders of the actual ship. ;^)

    But most everything else is spot-on. I've stood in the control car recreation, which has been restored and is now on proud display out at Lakehurst, and from having seen photos of virtually every part of the real Hindenburg control car I can say that the set designers really nailed this, again right down to the rivets on the elevator and rudder wheels. The passenger decks are pretty much identical to the real ones, the layout of the lower keel is frighteningly accurate... a modern-day movie about the Hindenburg would have to essentially re-build the same sets if they wanted to be accurate. For this alone, I like to throw my DVD of "The Hindenburg" in the player a couple times a year.

    Again, not a great movie overall, and the sabotage theory the screenwriters use is based on a load of dreck dreamed up under rather questionable circumstances a decade or so before the film was made, and which implicates a young man who unfortunately died in the fire and was not around to defend himself (nor did he have any close family to do it for him at the time the story first emerged). It may make for an interesting movie plot, but it didn't happen that way at all. (I also don't buy the "exploding paint" theory that's been run up the flagpole over the past several years, as it simply requires too much cherry-picking of eyewitness testimony and photographic evidence to work... but that's a whole 'nother story.)

    Not a terrible film overall, due to the painstakingly accurate set design, but not that great a film either. I'm a bit biased, obviously, but I always find myself wishing that they'd spent even half as much energy on writing a good script for this thing as they spent recreating the interior of the ship. It could have been something a lot more special than just another disaster flick if they'd put the effort into the story. But as 1970s disaster movies go, this is probably one of the best. It's certainly worth a watch.
  • If a film about The Hindenburg had to be made it certainly would have been made in the decade of the disaster film, the Seventies. But this film labored under a unique handicap that none of the other disaster films of the decade had.

    Unlike the sinking of the Titanic or the blowing up of Mount Krakatoa and certainly not like any of the potential but fictional disaster events that were film subjects, The Hindenburg was recorded on sight with newsreel cameras and on radio with Herbert Morrison's never to be forgotten broadcast. A lot of people now still remember it, let alone back in 1975.

    What Robert Wise did and maybe more successfully than any other director was make full use of the famous newsreel footage and carefully edited it into his film, with slow motion techniques into the personal attempts by the cast to try and escape the holocaust. The Hindenburg received Oscar nominations for sound, cinematography, and art&set design with a special award for special effects. Yet no nomination for editing which the main plus this film has going for it.

    Of course we don't know what ever really happened to the Hindenburg and the film takes account of all the theories put forth. It also uses the real names of the people who were passengers, crew, and officials of the Third Reich. The Nazi government had a big stake in the dirigible fleet they had built, they were as much propaganda value for them as Max Schmeling in boxing and Gottfried Von Cramm in tennis.

    Of course had they had access to helium to float the big guys this might never have happened. But the USA had a near total monopoly on the world's helium and was not selling it to Hitler. Hence they used the lighter, but flammable hydrogen with the result of the tragedy.

    George C. Scott and Anne Bancroft head the cast as a Luftwaffe official and a worldly old world countess traveling to the USA to visit her deaf mute daughter going to school for same in Boston. The Nazis didn't believe in helping those they considered defectives, another lovable quality about them.

    The Hindenburg is a sobering and near factual account of what happened in Lakehurst, New Jersey that afternoon. It's one of the best of the Seventies disaster films and should not be missed.
  • Even the presence of someone like GEORGE C. SCOTT can't save THE HINDENBERG from being a less than extraordinary recreation of the famous tragedy at Lakehurst, N.J. when the German dirigible fueled by hydrogen caught fire during its landing during a lightning storm.

    The most compelling footage comes toward the end of the film, when the craft is about to land and we know the unthinkable is about to happen. The special effects (designed by Alfred Whitlock) are especially strong here and combined with actual black and white footage of the event, it is mind boggling to watch. Ironically, the craft was so close to landing, with men on the ground already holding onto the landing ropes to secure the craft for its safe approach.

    Unfortunately, the script Robert Wise directs is sub-par as far as interest in the characters. I'd be tempted to call it "Grand Hotel in the Sky" but there's not even enough soap-opera element to the cast of passengers that make any of them memorable, including ANNE BANCROFT, as a Countess, GIG YOUNG and BURGESS MEREDITH.

    The plot is mostly fiction about a crew member causing a bomb to explode and ignite the huge aircraft, not really substantiated by the known facts although it makes for a compelling story. Historically correct or not, it's a film worth seeing but don't expect a disaster film comparable to THE TOWERING INFERNO or TITANIC.

    What's really fascinating is seeing what the inside of the dirigible is like for passenger travel, truly elegant and comfortable...a reminder of the sort of elegance that greeted those aboard the TITANIC.
  • This film is a unique illustration of the Hindenberg disaster, which occurred on the evening of May 6, 1937 in Lakehurst, New Jersey when the gigantic hydrogen-filled zeppelin exploded on landing. Although a common theory for this event's cause was a discharge of electricity from the atmosphere triggering the fire, here it is suggested as form sabotage. As a result of the explosion, 36 people (one third of those on-board the German airship) were killed.

    The movie goes along quite well in the way it is presented as a series of chronological events leading up to the explosion. The cast is flawless and in turn so is the superb and vivid acting. George C. Scott (as Colonel Franz Ritter, a German security officer) and Anne Bancroft (as the reluctant Countess) seem to be very suited and prepared for their parts as the main characters in the film. Other passengers to watch for include: Gig Young (as the sly Edward Douglass), Burgess Meredith (as gambler Emilio Pajetta) and Robert Clary, from the hit sitcom, "Hogan's Heroes", (as Joseph Spahn, a comedian.) These and many others provide an enjoyable overall performance in the movie while not only based on historical accounts, also provides other common genres of drama, suspense, comedy and even elements of romance between the two main characters.

    This film may have a general theme of seriousness, as Colonel Ritter proceeds to investigate an array of people aboard who are suspects to an anti-Nazi conspiracy, yet it also resolves to make way for other moods as well. For example, midway through the film there is a very amusing sequence in which passenger Reed Channing (Peter Donat) plays on the airship's famous baby grand piano and sings a song entitled: "There's A Lot to be Said for the Fuhrer" while Joe Spahn performs. This scene obviously demonstrates how both passengers are clearly against the Nazi party, and here it is also interesting to note that during WWII, actor Robert Clary actually was confined to the Nazi concentration camps as countless other unfortunates were subject to during the Holocaust. There are also several humorous one-liners spoken throughout the film, such as: "Next time we'll take the Titanic!" followed by other memorable quotes.

    As the film progresses, complications arise in the piloting of the Hindenberg as the crew and passengers encounter a brief experience with turbulence and St. Elmo's fire, (a flickering bluish glow sometimes appearing during storms) and repairing a rip in the fabric cover on the port side of the airship as it hovers over the frigid Atlantic Ocean. Events such as these, and Colonel Ritter's continuing investigation, prove to bring together desired elements of suspense, which certainly add up nearing the movie's climax ending.

    Shortly before the Hindenberg's doomed landing, Ritter finally discovers the suspected sabotage and the passenger behind it in a perplexing turn of events. In doing so, he also finds that this well-planned demolition is i n the form of a timed-bomb that has been hidden in the airship's structure and that it is up to him to reach in time for deactivation. The last few thrilling seconds before the explosion in which Colonel Ritter slowly struggles to defuse the bomb have enough apprehension to make it seem an eternity as he meticulously works, but to no avail. From the moment in which the bomb goes off, there is enough action to keep you on the edge of your seat until the movie's end. The last few minutes (which combine both color, black and white images, and still frames of the fire as innocent passengers attempt to escape the flames) are exceedingly well filmed as well as both exciting and horrific. Through this vivid portrayal, one may wonder just what it would have been like to witness this tragic disaster. To any viewer its plain to see just why "The Hindenberg" received a special achievements award for its sound and visual effects and nominations for best cinematography and film editing.

    With excellent writing credits provided by Nelson Gidding and under the careful direction of Robert Wise "The Hindenberg" proves to be a genuine and enjoyable movie to watch. This is a film that will undeniably age well, still seeming as timeless as it was the first time through. One of my favorite movies of all time, "The Hindenberg" can be highly recommended.
  • The 1970's were the age of the disaster films. Films featuring man made and natural calamaties with flashy special effects and big name stars were the "in" thing back then. Irwin Allen was the master of these when he made The Posiedon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. Jennings Lang also made an epic disaster film with Earthquake. In 1975, Robert Wise got into the act with The Hindenburg. Wise is one of our finest directors and I was so happy when he won the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award several years ago. Everyone loves a good mystery and the Hindenburg disaster is certainly one of them. What caused the explosion? We will probably never know. What we do know is that politics had a lot to do with it. The Hindenburg was filled with volatile hydrogen gas instead of helium. Helium is so safe it would actually smother fire. The American government did not wish to give the Germans helium because they feared they would use it for military purposes. This film has a first class cast with George C. Scott leading the way as the heroic Colonel Franz Ritter. Only a fine actor like Scott could have made a Nazi likeable. There are so many other fine thespians in the cast like Anne Bancroft and Charles Durning (as the Captain). A very fine character actor named William Atherton is the rigger who plants the bomb. Wise is a master of suspense because we all know what is going to happen and the ship is going to blow up, and yet you are on the edge of your seat as Ritter desperately races time to find the bomb. I would also like to mention how much I enjoyed Wise's masterful use of actual film footage of the disaster which he intermingles with scenes of the various actors trying to escape the burning ship. One of the fun things about these disaster films is watching who lived and who died at the end (what is really funny is that those near the top of the cast usually lived the longest!). There was indeed a theory that a rigger on the airship named Eric Spehl (they called him Karl Boerth in the movie) had indeed sabotaged the Hindenburg. The surviving crew members said that they had heard a sudden pop over their heads and looked up to see a circle of bright light that looked like a flashbulb igniting. It was near the axial gangway and this rigger was one of only a few who had acess to it. Spehl was known to have anti Nazi views. Did he plant a bomb? The theory is that Spehl had timed his explosive device (really a flashbulb attached to a photographic timer) to go off after the airship had landed. But the landing was delayed by a storm and he could not get back in time to re set it. Spehl was killed in the disaster and thus we will never know. The most chilling part of this film is where they play Herb Morrisons recording. He was the WLS Chicago reporter who was there to witness a routine airship landing and instead it was one of the most famous recordings ever made. Morrison lived until 1988 and resided near my home in West Virginia.
  • smithy-810 November 2004
    The director, Robert Wise, made a very good movie on the Zeppelin disaster, the Hinderburg. The movie's only flaw is that almost everyone has an American accent. The language familiarity looses authenticity. You can't tell the difference from the Americans to the Germans. The American actors should have used German accents.

    The superb cast is headed by George C. Scott,Anne Bancroft, and Charles Durning. It is fun to see many television actors get their chance to be in a good movie. Rene Auberjonois, Robert Clary, Roy Thinnes, and Joanne Cook Moore shine. Only William Atherton was able to make several good movies as a supporting actor.

    After all these years, nobody knows the truth on the Hindenburg disaster. However, the movie tells an interesting story. The movie's version sounds compelling. They claim the Hinderburg was blown up by a saboteur.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Apart from the sinking of the "Titanic", the loss of the German airship "Hindenburg" at Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 1937 was perhaps the most famous disaster of the twentieth century, so it is perhaps unsurprising that this film should have been made during the 1970s, the Golden Age of the disaster movie. There is, however, a difference between "The Hindenburg" and the standard seventies disaster flick in that it is a period piece based on a real-life disaster; most such films were set in the present day and told fictional stories.

    There is another difference between this film and films like "The Towering Inferno", "The Poseidon Adventure" or the various versions of the "Titanic" story. In those films the disaster happened over a longer period of time; the "Titanic", for example, took over two hours to sink after hitting the iceberg, so when James Cameron filmed the story he was able to use the second half of the movie to show the disaster as it happened, in virtually real time. The fire which destroyed the "Hindenburg", by contrast, took only a few minutes to consume the airship, and only takes up a small part of the film's running time. The film-makers, therefore, needed to come up with something else to make a full-length feature film out of the disaster.

    The true cause of the "Hindenburg" disaster remains unknown to this day, but the film explores the theory that the airship was destroyed as a deliberate act of sabotage by forces opposed to the Nazi regime. The main character is Franz Ritter, a Colonel in the Luftwaffe and the "Hindenburg's" security officer. Ritter discovers that there is a plot to destroy the airship and works desperately to thwart it. He himself, however, is becoming disillusioned with the Nazis (whom he originally supported) so has some sympathy with the anti-Nazi opposition. In reality no firm evidence for sabotage has ever been found, but there is also no firm evidence which would definitely rule it out, so this aspect of the film is not so much a distortion of history as an exploration of a possible, if unproven, theory. In some respects, however, the film-makers do alter the facts to suit the story. For example, in the film the airship's captain Max Pruss delays his landing because of adverse weather conditions (a key plot point), whereas in fact no such delay took place.

    The film's main drawback is that it just does not work as a thriller. We all know that the "Hindenburg" was indeed destroyed and we therefore realise that Ritter's efforts to prevent its destruction will prove vain. It therefore generates very little tension. Films about the "Titanic" disaster suffer from the same drawback, but both Cameron and the makers of the earlier 1953 film about the sinking are able to overcome this problem by creating characters we can care about. The important question therefore becomes, not "will the ship sink?" (we know it will), but rather "can Jack and Rose, or the Sturges family, survive the sinking?" "The Hindenburg" does not give us any characters we can identify with in this way. Most of them, including the saboteur, are fairly sketchily drawn. The only one to be fully developed is George C. Scott's Ritter, and even he is not particularly sympathetic. A man who has taken four years to realise that Hitler might not actually be the great saviour of the nation he was hoping for makes an unlikely hero for a Hollywood blockbuster. The other major star in this production is Anne Bancroft as Countess Ursula von Reugen, an old friend of Ritter, but she does not have a lot to do. (Although both Scott and Bancroft were big stars in their day, and had leading roles in many films, both today are largely remembered for one single role, General Patton in his case and Mrs Robinson from "The Graduate" in hers).

    On the plus side, the final scenes of the disaster are reasonably convincing, as is the period reconstruction of the 1930s, and there is a witty comic song called "There's a Lot to Be Said for the Fuehrer", actually an ironic piece of anti-Nazi propaganda, which sounds like something . Overall, however, this is one of the weaker disaster movies of the seventies, better than "The Cassandra Crossing"- it would be difficult to be worse- but not as good as, say, "Jaws", "Earthquake" or "The Towering Inferno". There's not a lot to be said for "The Hindenburg". 5/10

    A goof. One of the German characters has the surname "Boerth". In German this would be pronounced (approximately) like the name "Bert", but throughout the film it is mispronounced to rhyme with "fourth".
  • The Hindenburg disaster didn't last more than 3 minutes or so; then, if you want to make a movie with that subject, how do you complete the rest of the time a film is supposed to last? Not an easy task.

    Robert Wise puts his best in trying but "Hindenburg" doesn't rise beyond a just standard disaster film. Some good sequences of the ship in the air and good performances from a reliable cast are not enough to raise such level. The plot, sort of interesting with the sabotage focus, is not great either.

    Finally, the airship's destruction scenes mixed up with real footage is not bad, but you always wonder if including real shooting (that most of us have seen before), doesn't appear as a sort of cheating the easy way when it comes to movies about real facts; this is not a documentary film and I would have liked to see special effects on the crash we all knew was coming.

    Robert Wise was indeed one of the most recognized directors in films and gave as such good products in different genres as "The Sound of Music", "Helen of Troy" or "The Day the Earth Stood Still" just to name a few. But "Hindemburg" -though watchable- is not among his best works and it didn't fulfill my expectations; not with Robert Wise in the direction.
  • I actually thought the crash sequence in "The Hindenburg" looked pretty realistic. The combination of newsreel footage and special effects was effective as it was often difficult to distinguish between the two.

    Robert Wise was an editor on "Citizen Kane" and he skillfully combined studio shots with stock footage on that great film as well. What worked on both of these movies was that the new shots were matched with the archival footage in terms of quality. Scratches, shaky camera movements and other imperfections were added to the special effects sequences to blend better with the existing newsreels.

    Sure the script has some flaws but let's face it, you watch a film like this to see the disaster and "The Hindenburg" delivers.
  • "The Hindenburg" is a Robert Wise film in which he depicts the last voyage of the blimp from Germany to Lakehurst, New Jersey. He adapted the screenplay from Michael Mooney's book, in which the Hindenburg might have been a victim of sabotage from someone on board.

    This film has all the elements for a great disaster! The usual cast of colorful characters played by terrific actors (George C. Scott, Anne Bancroft, Burgess Meredith, Katherine Helmond, Charles Durning, etc), a nice twist to a factual tale about sabotage bringing down the symbol of Nazi power, and an outstanding display of the effects during the explosion sequence. Wise used the actual newsreel footage, shot it freeze-frame style and spliced it in with the characters as they try to escape death. The best part of the movie by far!

    "The Hindenburg" does drag in some spots but the viewer needs to pay close attention to what is going on, who everyone is, what issues they have, why they are on the zepplin and how this adds to the story. Pay close attention to The Countess played by Anne Bancroft, by far the best character in the movie.

    This happens to be my favorite disaster movie for a number of reasons. First off, the sabotage plot unfolds nicely and I actually believe that the Hindenburg was downed as an act of sabotage. I have always believed this. Second, I love the detail Wise's team did with the ship's interior sets, you actually feel as if you are flying on the ship, and the third, the last sequence with the explosion occurs. Effects were pretty damn well done! If you want to see a true disaster come about, revolving around a suspenseful story with great characters, rent "The Hindenburg"
  • On the 6th of May 1937 The Hindenburg Zeppelin, whilst attempting to dock at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, New Jersey, burst in to flames. Thirty Six people were killed that fateful day, this is a fictionalised account of what may have happened that day.

    There are quite a few theories as to what caused the Hindenburg disaster, this film takes the sabotage angle and thankfully (to me) it makes for a very engrossing picture full of tension, drama and no little horror. The 70s was a time for disaster pictures, it seemed that one was churned out every year, not all were great movies for sure, but some actually were viable entertainment, and with The Hindenburg we get good old fashioned story telling, character build up and the pay off actually, well, pays off!

    Running at just over two hours long, first time viewers should be aware that for a good 100 minutes of the film it's all about the set up, there are characters to meet and journey motives to explore, all passengers are under suspicion, and we live thru this courtesy of George C Scott's (wonderful here as usual), Col. Franz Ritter, the man assigned to ensure no sabotage can take away the pride of Germany. The film has flaws for sure, the array of passengers are the usual disaster picture assortment of beings, and of course some situations beggar belief, but this is a disaster flick after all, and director Robert Wise pulls it all together nicely for the films finale, and what a finale it is. Using stop frames, and inter cutting film of the actual disaster itself, the finale grips with a sense of realism, the plot line may well be merely one of the reasons put forward, but the crash is indeed a thing of fact, and it closes the film in a very sombre and impacting way. 7/10
  • sol121822 March 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    (There are Spoilers) Put in charge of the German airship Hindenberg's security by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Geobbles, David Mauro, Luftwaffe Col.Franz Ritter, George C. Scott, is very certain that there's a very strong possibility that members of the anti-Nazi resistance movement were planning to blow the ship up in a public statement against the Hitler regime. Ritter's worst fears turned out to be right dead right for over 30 passengers and crew on the ship.

    Even though the movie "The Hindenberg" was universally panned by many critics at the time of its release in 1975 it still remains, as far as I know, the only major disaster movie released back then that was in fact based on a true story. That makes it somewhat of a novelty itself in that everyone watching the film knew exactly what was to happen to it when it was about to moor, or anchor, at the Lakehurst NJ Naval airfield back in the spring, May 6, of 1937.

    Having his own doubts about what bad, not good, the Nazi regime is doing to his country from what he experienced in Spain, the bombing of Guernica, Ritter is still at heart a German national and loyal member of Hitler's Luftwaffe. Still he's bitterly divided in his emotions when he finds out that one of the riggers on the airship Nazi Youth leader Boerth, William Atherton, is planning to blow up the blimp. Boerth a bit unstable himself after his girlfriend, and fellow anti-Nazi resistance member, was shot and killed by the Gestapo during questioning. All this made Col. Ritter try to get him to reveal how he planned to down the airship in order to play on his humanistic qualities, in having Boerth abort his suicide mission. Col. Ritter knowing that what Boerth plans to do tries to get him to understand that he'll only in the end help, not hurt, the Nazi regime.

    We have the usual cast of characters on the flight where we try to figure out who, by the time he movie is over, will survive this impending disaster with Countess Ursula, Anne Bancroft, by far the most interesting. Ursala an old flame of Col. Ritter is trying to sneak out of Germany with all the gold jewels and diamonds that she can carry to start a new life, with her relatives in Boston, as an American citizen.

    The Hindenbergs flight over the vast Atlantic Ocean is even more interesting, with far better special effects, then the ship explosion itself with the movie makers using actual newsreel films inter-cut with the actors in the movie, all in black and white, of the Hindenberg disaster. The explosion and crash of the giant airship actually lasted under 40 seconds but was stretched out to over ten minutes in the film.

    In the end nothing even the on board and undercover Gestapo chief and fanatical Nazi Martin Vogle, Roy Thinnes, couldn't stop the very determined Boerth from carrying out his plans. What was really the big surprise in the movie was that Boerth had help from a very unexpected and, at first, unwilling person on the flight! Who in him trying to disarm the explosive device, that Boerth planted, actually activated it!

    P.S Even though the movie makes it look like the destruction of the German airship Hindenberg was the result of sabotage the true facts of it's demise were never fully found out. A joint US/German investigation determined that it was either an "Act of God" or the result of a freak electro-magnetic spark or St. Elmos's fire igniting the flammable hydrogen, not harmless helium, that was pumped into it's massive Hull.
  • The problem with making true stories is that the viewer already knows the outcome of the story. Most true stories center on someone's life thus giving the filmmakers a chance to show us insights we the viewer may not have known. When doing a film about an incident, the filmmakers are challenged to keep our interest high despite knowing how it all comes out.

    The problem with "The Hindenburg", and it's a big one, is that the filmmakers have created a possible though unlikely scenario to explain why the infamous blimp exploded just prior to landing in 1936. The scenario created is that the explosion was caused by sabotage via a mad bomber. This would have worked fine had they remembered one thing. We already know coming in that the Hindenburg exploded and killed 36 people. Any tension that could have been created is then lost. When George C. Scott as a sympathetic(?) Nazi figures it all out it's a race against time to see if he can find the bomb and then diffuse it. But we know that can't happen so the only real tension in the whole movie is waiting to see which of the big name cast members are going to die. And it is a long, tedious wait until the final scenes.

    Director Robert Wise incorporates real footage of the explosion with staged shots that mix together nicely. Again this comes in the last 10 minutes of the movie so we have to wait a while for the expected explosion. The final scenes are quite compelling. Unfortunately the first 110 minutes or so are a raging bore as we meet the cast and watch their individual stories. Anne Bancroft, Burgess Meredith, Charles Durning, and others join Scott for the flight but none of these characters are the least bit interesting. Only when their lives are in peril does any interest perk us up. And the only interest we have is seeing who survives but not caring who does and doesn't.

    Director Wise has had a distinguished career but "The Hindenburg" will not be remembered as one of his best works. In the large group of disaster films of the 70's this was the worst up to that point ("The Swarm" and "When Time Ran Out" would come later and were much worse). It isn't even fun to watch in a bad movie kind of way the way you can with "Earthquake" or the later "Airport" movies. With all the talent involved "The Hindenburg" should have gone a different direction with its script. As it stands it's a dud.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "The Hindenburg" is a speculative thriller by Robert Wise. Wise often picked interesting material, and this one revolves around a supposed conspiracy which took place aboard The Hindenburg, the famous German airship which was destroyed by fire on May 6th, 1937. The Hindeburg was and still is the longest flying machine ever created by man.

    There's something crass about using a real-life disaster for a thriller plot, but ignore this and the film has some interesting elements. For most of its running time, for example, "Hindenburg" functions like an Agatha Christie styled mystery, actor George C. Scott playing a Luftwaffe security agent tasked with protecting the airship from various threats. In this regard, the first half of the film delights in laying out several red-herrings and false leads, we the audience unsure as to which of the airship's passengers or crew may be plotting its demise. Scott himself suspects that anti-Hitler terrorists are plotting to "symbolically" blow up the Hindenburg, but what's unique here is that he sympathises with the saboteurs and has no scruples with them carrying out their actions.

    Mostly, though, the film works best when it's completely ignoring its thriller plot. Scott, who spends the film brooding awesomely (like a noir detective, a kind of pensive, ageing Bogart), has various "romantic" encounters with middle aged women, which Wise suffuses with wistful dialogue and magnificently melodramatic tunes courtesy composer David Shire. Another good scene features a satirical, anti-Nazi song. Even better are the film's evocative special effect shots, most of which were done by Albert Whitlock, regarded by many as the best matte artist of all time. His work is beautiful and convincing, and the film's shots of bulbous airships, skylines, landing strips and landscapes are at times special, particularly a few shots in which Whitlock recreates famous photos of the Hindenburg flying over Europe and the New York skyline. You have to be an aviation buff to like this stuff.

    Unfortunately whatever merit the film has is completely undermined by its climax. The film's last act is horrible, Wise inter-cutting real footage of the Hindenburg's demise with poor special effects shots and much silly carnage. He also makes the decision to shoot the calamity in black-and-white, so as to match up with historical, archival footage. It's a poor decision. If you can't render the airship's destruction convincingly with special effects, omit the destruction altogether. Have it alluded to in some other way. The film's climax ruins the entire film.

    Airships have a certain beauty about them. They conjure up a very specific type of romanticism; the romanticism of the 1930s, of flying, of new-fandangled air machines, heroic pilots and aviator sunglasses. It used to be an adventure to fly, glamorous even. Now air-machines are antiseptic and airports have all the allure of bus terminals. Incidentally, outside the Hindenburg, the most famous airship is perhaps the Graf Zeppelin, a massive German passenger airship which circumnavigated the globe in 1929. It had a spotless safety record, was made famous by various newsreels and documentaries which delighted in capturing its gigantic mass as it heaved itself over cities, oceans and skyscrapers, but was ultimately dismantled by the Nazis at the outset of WW2. As America had a monopoly on non-flammable gas, and as the public lost faith in the use of flammable hydrogen post the Hindenburg disaster, Germany's "age of airships" eventually ended come the 1940s. Before this, many interesting plans were made to retrofit skyscrapers and buildings in London and New York. The top floors of the Empire State Building, for example, were to house the docking ports and headquarters of American Zeppelins. So cool.

    7.9/10 – Worth one viewing. See "The Sand Pebbles".
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There are some nice scenes of flight in the giant German zeppelin, The Hindenburg. The 1930s were a period of experimentation with zeppelins for various purposes. Smaller versions, called blimps, are still used to spot drug smugglers and illegal immigrants by TV cameras.

    They seem like a nice way to get from one place to another by air, don't they? The travel slowly, placidly even, and low enough so that you can savor all the features of the landscape you're flying over.

    The problem was that they kept falling apart in storms, collapsing for unexplained reasons, or blowing up, like the Hindenburg. In this case the problem was the gas used to provide buoyancy. Hydrogen gas is the lightest element there is, and the first to be created after the Big Bang. After 1937 it was replaced by helium, the second lightest element with an atomic number of 2, and inert.

    There's a Big Bang in this movie too but it's not caused by God but rather by a bomb hidden aboard the zeppelin by an anti-Nazi character (Atherton), assisted by George C. Scott. The point is to destroy spectacularly the pride of Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, there is a delay in landing and the bomb goes off prematurely, before the passengers and crew can dis-zeppelin. But, not to worry. The two monstrous little kids who must always be among the passengers of jeopardized flying machines survive. So does the stupid dog. (I think) George C. Scott doesn't make it and it's too bad because his intentions are of the best, he's polite and generous, and he plays the role of the disillusioned Nazi in a subdued fashion. Atherton doesn't make it either but I'm not sure he really wanted to. "The Countess" played by Anne Bancroft survives, her kickshaws intact, and that's good because she's an intelligent and striking actress, now that she's gotten past her early roles as a sexpot or gorilla bait. What a wide and welcoming smile she has, and sexy too.

    So it's May, 1937, and the bloated thing arrives at the Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey, and bursts into flame just as it's being moored. The cinematic presentation must have given director Robert Wise a problem. Video footage of the explosion and collapse is widely available. Everybody has seen it. That makes it difficult to create in model form, and there are no CGIs in 1975. So Wise chops the newsreel footage up into sections, some magnified, of this magnificent disaster. Each section of newsreel lasts a few seconds and stops on a freeze frame. Then, for a minute or so, we cut to the passengers that we've come to know, scrambling desperately for their lives amid the flaming, falling wreckage. Then back to another few seconds of the original news footage. Then back to the passengers for a minute or so. What took only about a minute of real time is stretched out to about ten minutes on the screen.

    The Nazi vs. anti-Nazi plot is to be expected. The other back stories are routine, including the shell of a romance between Scott and Bancroft. More interesting are the scenes inside the airship -- the cat walks, the gas balloons, a dangerous extra-vehicle trip to repair a rip in the outer canvas. And then there are the picturesque ice bergs near Newfoundland, the smokestacks of New York City, and snotty remarks about New Jersey, where I was born, being a land of moonshiners. I'm here to tell you that there were no moonshiners in New Jersey in 1937, just truck farmers growing tomatoes and other vegetables to be sold to the corrupt and "sophisiticated" urbanites of New York City. I suspect the Hindenburg chose to blow up where it did because Manhattan was simply not GOOD enough for it to happen there. Better for it to provide an unforgettable spectacle for those God-fearing sons of the soil living in the Garden State.
  • While "The Towering Inferno", "The Poseidon Adventure", "Earthquake" and the "Airport" movies tend to reap most of the disaster glory, "The Hindenburg" has its own merits and should rank not as greatness, but certainly for being a lot of fun and very entertaining. Not all the characters are as 3-dimensional as they could be, but the actors have a field day with their roles and hold up nicely against the Oscar-winning effects. Some hilarious lines ("Next time let's take the Titanic!" and "You're going to regret this, Sir! My nephew is very close to Mussolini!!"), authentic sets (a real crew member visited the set and was astounded at the reproductions) and a spectacular finale make for a Robert Wise gem. It's no "Sound of Music" or "West Side Story", but has a lot of style and charm that often goes unrecognized. Concentration camp survivor Robert Clary ("Hogan's Heroes") is marvelous as comedian Joe Spah, who survived the disaster.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I venture to say that if you ask most people today, "What do you know of the Hindenburg", most will mimic (poorly) the old Jim Carrey hyperbolic schtick "OH THE HUMANITY" .

    A massive, ultra-dramatic catastrophe, occurring within the United States, much of which recorded on disc and film. Reduced to a smarmy punch line.

    Welcome to some of the worst of pop culture.

    No wonder this movie, which at the time was a huge box office success, is now virtually extinct, only to be stamped further into oblivion by self-appointed pseudo-historians.

    I ask those who focus their criticism at the supposed "impossibilty" of the sabotage theory: Why do you dismiss sabotage so quickly? Why do you think it is impossible? Perhaps you should ask the victims of the recent London, Baghdad, and Madrid bombings what they think...

    In any case, at the end of this picture, the four "most likely causes of the Hindenburg disaster" are outlined, one of which was sabotage. Yes, this story focused on that cause, but I shudder to watch any drama built around St. Elmo's Fire, structural failure, or flammable coatings.

    While I am neither old enough to have experienced the time of this event, nor a scholar of the disaster, I think this depiction generates a believable, understandable re-creation of the people, politics, and technology of that time. There were many anti-Nazis in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, though their stories somehow have gone unheard. Is it so difficult to comprehend that a man, who lost a son to an malignant social subculture, quickly finds sympathy with another young man who is willing to die in order to boldly resist evil (the very evil which consumed his son)? You mean to tell me, in light of all the recent events, such a premise seems unrealistic? Wise's "The Hindenburg" is such an enriching if somewhat melodramatic telling of this tale. I would prefer to watch this movie -flaws and all - to the pathetic teeny romance "Titanic" or the moronic and soulless "Pearl Harbor".

    Cast off your faux cinematic preconceptions. Forget CSI, The Matrix, MTV... in fact, jettison maybe 99% of current pop culture. Try to understand an event in the context of its time. If you do so , maybe films like "The Hindenburg" might be appreciated.
  • This is very much a niche film--one that will appeal to some viewers but probably not most. I was attracted to it for two reasons--my love of George C. Scott films as well as because I am a huge airship lover and have always wondered what it would have been like to ride in one of these behemoths. However, given that most people DON'T have this fantasy and Scott is quickly becoming a forgotten name in films, I honestly can't see most people seeing or enjoying the film.

    The film is a fictionalized account of the final voyage of the Hindenburg. While it is all supposition and guesswork, it is pretty exciting. Plus at the end of the film they did a nice job of integrating existing newsreel footage into the body of the movie. The acting is pretty good and the special effects excellent, but much of the spectacle is lost on television--it was amazing on the big screen.

    Overall, history lovers will be happy but most others who have no idea about this event or its context will probably be left bored and confused.
  • Disaster movies are easy targets, but not for the obvious reasons.

    There is something cynical and voyeuristic about watching mass destruction and wholesale slaughter as entertainment. So after viewing such things our guilt reflex kicks in and we lash out at the source of our embarrassment and don't take the personal responsibility for our behavior.

    Most of the these films are a mediocre mishmash of boring characters played by big-name stars and big-budget special effects that are a mixed bag.

    The reason these keep being made is that most of the time they are money makers from movie makers that have no qualms about exploiting this rubbernecking public neurosis. The Hindenburg has as much to offer as any of its DM cousins and as much to criticize. Disturbingly stylistic, the actual demise is different and dramatized in a way that is surprising and distressing. Listen closely for some excellent sound editing.

    The odd, after the disaster ending and the detached overly punctuated way of listing the casualties is rather a curiosity. It is delivered something like this...

    dead...dead...dead...survived...survived...survived...dead dead...survived survived...dead dead dead dead dead...survived survived survived survived...dead survived dead dead dead
  • Warning: Spoilers
    **MINOR SPOILERS** Fictional story about what happened on the Hinderburg back in 1937 on its last journey where it exploded. German Col. Franz Ritter (George C. Scott) is assigned to be security on the zeppelin. On board we find the same sort of one-dimensional characters and situations that were in every other disaster flick of the time. There also is a anti-Nazi man on board who plants a bomb to blow up the zeppelin.

    This (supposedly) took two years to make. Universal went all out with this one. They took great pains to recreate exactly what the Hindenburg looked like inside and out. It paid off--the movie looks and sounds great. It won well deserved Oscars for special effects, sound effects and cinematography. Unfortunately the characters aboard are ridiculously fake and their back stories uninteresting. Bad dialogue too makes this hard to sit through. It's a crime to see good actors like Burgess Meredith, Katherine Helmond, Gig Young, Charles Durning and William Atherton working with material well below their talents. Also Anne Bancroft plays the Countess (that's exactly how she's introduced in the opening credits) and overacts to an embarrassing degree. However Scott gives a great performance in his role. Also, as a big disaster flick, this doesn't work. Everybody knows how it ends so there isn't much suspense and you could care less about which characters are going to live or die.

    Universal promoted this film nonstop when it came out. I still remember the huge color ads they had in newspapers. From what I remember this was not a big hit and faded away fairly quick. This is worth seeing just for the technical and sound effects. The final 10 minutes, which show actual footage of the disaster inter cut with new footage showing who lived and died, is impressive but depressing. All the other disaster movies were based on fictional characters and events--this was based on a true tragedy which makes it sort of disturbing. I give this a 5.
  • Fictionalized account of the lives that were lost and those who survived after the German airship Hindenburg crashed in flames just prior to landing at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey on May 6, 1937, having just completed its first round trip between Europe and North America. Director Robert Wise delivers a handsome film here, yet humorless, methodical Wise was probably the wrong filmmaker to take on this melodrama. Despite his effective usage of actual newsreel footage that gives the picture its third-act punch, "The Hindenburg" is basically a disaster movie in the sky, recognized on its release as part of the disaster movie cycle popular in the 1970s. But these movies were popular because they were trashy, popcorn entertainments. Wise doesn't stoop to such vulgar lows; he wants his film to be prestigious, a masterpiece, but after spending two arduous hours with the various 'colorful' characters on the guest list, one isn't inclined to be emotionally involved in the who-lived-and-who-died wrap-up. Most of the actors are miscast, anyway, particularly Anne Bancroft as a German Countess (by way of the Bronx) and Joanna Moore as a pregnant Broadway show-person with a Dalmatian (the Hindenburg did have two dogs aboard, but their fates differ from the happy ending given this screen pooch). Charles Durning has a thankless role as the ship's captain, barking commands until the disaster arrives, when he suddenly becomes human and shouts "No!" George C. Scott is effective as a colonel assigned to board the airship as a security officer in response to a bomb threat and Roy Thinnes does a good job as the ship's photographer who may not be what he seems. The cinematography by Robert Surtees is indeed marvelous, but the picture just doesn't deliver the genre thrills or suspense you may be hoping for. Wise mounts the proceedings carefully but without any flair. The idle chit-chat up in the air seems monotonous and pointless, and the only thing to look forward to is the finale, a long time in coming. ** from ****
  • This is a pretty good dramatization of an historical and tragic event based on theory only and not all factual is known about that fatal day on May 06th, in 1937. George C. Scott is very good as the leading actor as is Anne Bancroft as the leading actress.

    There are some very suspenseful scenes in the film that grab the audiences attention and you cannot let go until you see what happens next. An example of which is when the flight crew discover there is a gaping hole in the outer skin of the Hindenburg and two brave crew men go out on top of the Hindenburg as it is flying low and slow. The two crew men are tied to a rope around their waste in an attempt to seal the gaping hole before the captain of the Hindenburg gives the order to go full throttle to avoid the Hindenburg crashing and killing everyone aboard.

    Hindenburg began its last flight on May 3, 1937, carrying 36 passengers and 61 officers, crew members, and trainees. It was the airship's 63rd flight. The film quality on Blu Ray is excellent and the film makers designed the Hindenburg's seating and viewing area identical to the actual air ship. Although this is more of a dramatization of certain events the facts are true that the Hindenburg exploded at Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937, caught fire as it was filled with hydrogen and burned to the ground. This was a very tragic day for aviation history and it caused the deaths of thirteen (13) of the 36 passengers, and twenty-two (22) of the 61 crew, who died as a result of the zeppelin's crash.

    Historically, there is no evidence of sabotage that was ever found, and no convincing theory of sabotaged has ever been advanced. George C. Scott plays the lead investigator Colonel Franz Ritter charged with determining if the written warning the Kremlin received prior to the Hindenburg flight departing that the Hindenburg was going to be destroyed and Colonel Franz Ritter's known relationship with the passenger Countess Ursula von Reugen (Anne Bancroft) who chose to travel on the Hindenburg in an attempt to escape to New Jersey with her most valuable jewels to stay with her daughter who was away at boarding school.

    Will these two characters and the many other interesting passengers survive, and who is responsible if there is in fact a bomb aboard the Hindenburg? This is a suspenseful film worth watching.

    I give The Hindenburg a 7/10 rating.
  • Robert Wise directed this all-star recreation of the events(both fact and fiction) that led to the sudden explosion of the German blimp the Hindenburg while it was about to land in America back in 1937. George C. Scott plays a German official assigned to investigate threats of sabotage that have been made against the famous Zeppelin. Others in the cast include Anne Bancroft, Roy Thinnes, Charles Durning, Richard Dysart, Gig Young, Burgess Meredith, and William Atherton. Some will live, some will die as the film uses the actual newsreel footage of the time, and integrates it into the film at the end.

    Though well acted and directed, this film is strangely ineffective, with an uninspired script that feels lifted from any number of similar disaster films from the decade.(Though there is one memorable scene involving a song about Hitler & the Nazis sung at a piano.) Not bad by any means, but a disappointment. The "In Search Of..." TV series did an episode on the subject that was much better IMO.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The disaster movie was a trend in the 1970s. The "Airport" movies, that took place in the 1970s, with titles that referred their years of releases, became a series in specific. Apparently, that brought some money. So why not making an "Airport movie" yet with a different time, vehicle, premise, and true story !

    (The Hindenburg) was the answer for all of that. It took place in 1937, while the Nazi Germany was turning into an international ogre, with a tyrannical fascist policy that forced many to run away or think of running away, and an active propaganda machine that used the German airships as a giant flying ad for the Third Reich's technological development. Moreover, we're introduced to a zeppelin, sort of a hotel in the sky that's full of rich people, exactly like what the plane looked the year before in Airport 1975 (1974). However, it's bigger this time, with fabulous interior and grand internal. The plot utilized an excitement of "Who has the bomb? What's his or her motive? When it's going to explode? And how can we stop it?". The detective searching for the criminal was sure missed in the Airport series, and added "thriller" beside "disaster" in this movie's genre, with more heat and attractiveness. And finally, the "fact" factor, since this movie retells a real story, with the same events, and nearly characters, let alone presenting its own point of view concerning the reason of The Hindenburg's blowup, which's embarrassing Hitler's regime by the hands of its very men who – at one point – preferred to be its resistance.

    This formula generally worked. The movie is non-stop thriller, making me on the edge on my seat for every minute. All the time we're searching for the bomb, living a time-bomb pace ourselves. Unlike all the Airport movies, where the characters are just a drama sideshow or relief, they are used here smartly as a long list of suspects. Although (The Hindenburg) has its share of Excess Baggage, like uninteresting characters (an old pregnant wife, a man with a pen full of diamonds, etc..) and redundant scenes (the police asks about someone on a ship, ..and ponies !), but the editing managed to create a graceful movie, with no flabbiness or bore. (George C. Scott) is a perfect lead. His seriousness carried the movie all along. He was the most charismatic actor around, with the best character too. The line of "I hate Nazism" was well served, saving for instance some irony for (Scott) to play. And I liked how it propounds a theory to explain the historical disaster, disagreeing totally with the much known declared reason (nothing but a technical error). It makes (The Hindenburg) precede movie like (JFK) in terms of being a political paranoia, with a theory to present.

    The different age provided the image with nice details that were very elegantly cinematographed. The airship's décor impresses highly, you can't find similar visions in the Airport movies. The special effects were no less than great. The shots of the airship flying over many places, day or night, seemed so real (seeing this movie for the first time in 2012, I personally thought that they used a full-size airship, not a small model as I read later !). And the final sequence was inflaming literally. Its factualness, while cutting to the actual Newsreel footage, was undoubtedly freaky. I just hated the matter of freezing the Newsreel footage for seconds; it's where the documentary feel contradicted the drama feel badly.

    Speaking about "badness", while achieving a good moment like in which (Scott) facing himself in the mirror with a deep guilt, seeing himself as a monster (albeit he's serving Nazism, participating in one of its massacres, he doesn't believe in it, losing his son somehow due to it too), some of the other moment's cinematic depiction wasn't effective or taken care of originally; like the moment of discovering the real bomber. Then, the unintentional comedy, which includes a row of shameful moments at the end : The swindler gambler acts like a gentleman and makes way for the countess while all hell is breaking loose! (Richard A. Dysart), as Capt. Lehmann, walks some steps while looking around then falls on his face with smoke coming out of his back (it fits a slapstick !). The picture of the dog comes up among the other passengers' ones while a venerable voice says "Survived"! Or when the bomb explodes because the clumsy (Scott) didn't think of delaying its time of explosion or got scared when his loyal Nazi co-investigator shouted his name! Well, Roger Ebert said that this movie "makes people laugh out loud at all the wrong times." Hmm, few times Rog, only few !

    Still the biggest flaw this movie has is its end. Not for being known, but for being a bit depressive. Yes, almost all of the passengers we knew survived, but the idea of the ideal lead getting killed, as randomly as we've seen, is pure turn off. Let alone the matter of patriotic cause like embarrassing the Nazi, which – without a given statement – got eventually lost.

    At its time (The Hindenburg) was a sacrifice for some hungry angry reviewers. However, despite its minor flaws and depressive sense, this is big and absorbing kind of Airport movie that left me stunned. And it will live longer than many similar disaster movies, due to its nature as a political paranoia. Proved to be right or wrong someday, its theory endows it with a load of interestingness.
  • ctomvelu-11 June 2008
    I only give THE HINDENBURG a 5 because of George C. Scott, who in my opinion can do no wrong, even in a movie as bad as this. Made at the height of the disaster movie era, this Robert Wise epic has a bomb being placed on the famous German dirigible, which caused it to explode and crash and kill lots and lots of people. Shot both in B&W and color -- a huge mistake -- the film is just another variation on AIRPORT and THE TOWERING INFERNO. Some big names are thrown into the mix (Anne Bancroft and Burgess Meredith) and a lot of hokey dialogue helps to pad out the moment we were waiting for, the explosion itself. Wise mixes footage of the real thing with his own recreation of the event. It works intermittently at best. A young-ish Charles Durning stands around a lot as the dirigible's captain. Robert Clary from "Hogan's Heroes" is the film's comic relief. Other than tightly permed hairdos on some of the females, very little attempt is made to make the film look like the period in which it actually occurred. Clary's haircut, for instance, is right up to date for 1975 but has nothing to do with 1938, or whenever the disaster occurred.
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