The Hindenburg (1975)
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"The German Air Force is not at all what it used to be," says Anne Bancroft's Countess, about 16 minutes into The Hindenburg, pausing and then adding, "But then, nothing is these days." That seems to sum up the ponderous, irony-laden script and plot of Robert Wise's movie, which is posited -- in true post-Watergate fashion -- upon notions of conspiracy and cover-up behind the destruction of the German airship. The movie opens with a handy Universal newsreel that gives a vestpocket history of lighter-than-air flight, and that carries us to 1937 Germany. Colonel Franz Ritter (George C. Scott), a former hero pilot now working for military intelligence, finds himself assigned to the flight of the Hindenburg as chief of security; reports and rumors about the destruction of the zeppelin have circulated both in Germany and America, and the Nazi government takes these very seriously. What Ritter walks in on is a "Grand Hotel" of the air, several dozen passengers and crew whose ranks contain enough red herrings to keep Ritter (and us) jumping through hoops for most of the first half of the film, when we're not watching glorious shots of the zeppelin in flight. The answer to the script's presentation of the plot against the airship,and theidentityof the bomber and his motivations, are actually presented in the first 15 minutes, but there are so many false leads, subplots, and blind alleys put before us that the solution will probably pass by unnoticed. In the meantime, Ritter dances around with his ex-paramour (Bancroft), scheming businessmen (Gig Young), and passengers with skeletons in their closets (Alan Oppenheimer), an entertainer (Robert Clary) with a knack for offending loyal Nazis, several officers and crew with known "political" differences with the Nazi Party, a Gestapo man (Roy Thinnes) who's got an agenda of his own, and two genuine mystery men (Burgess Meredith, Rene Auberjonois) who don't seem to have any reason for traveling on this particular voyage. It's all a little tiring, or would be, if the setting and special effects weren't that interesting, and the cast wasn't so entertaining to watch in these relatively thankless roles. … More
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Critic Reviews for The Hindenburg
Disappointing disaster formula flick
A fascinating historical drama that deserves to be seriously re-evaluated.
Stilted action adventure. You hang around to see which stars will burn to death.
Blimpy make believe script surrounding a true disaster.
Audience Reviews for The Hindenburg
The Hindenburg has been heavily critisied and in my view, unfairly treated since its release in 1975. Among the countless disaster films of the mid 70s, The Hindenburg is probably one of the best. It takes liberties with history, playing on the fact that it has never been 100% proven as to why the Hindenburg exploded but none of the scenarios are unrealistic or without merit. It's formulaic, much like the other disaster films of the era and it has its fair share of misleading sub-plots but the ensemble cast make it very enjoyable. With films like this it is all about the big build up and then the pay off and for my money Robert Wise achieved both. Maybe it was rejected as being too clever, 'The thinking mans disaster film' possibly. The sad truth is that people just want to see it burn at the end of the day. I'll take this over Titanic, Towering Inferno and the rest of them any day. Robert Wise is one of the unappreciated directors of all time too, he deserves much more credit than he is remembered for.
Underrated disaster film based on the real life 1937 disaster of the Hindenburg is very good entertainment for what it is. The film is far from perfect, but is much better than most disaster films of the era. Entertaining for what it is, the film relies on the sabotage conspiracy aspect of the disaster, suggesting that the airship was sabotaged. This plays out more like a popcorn disaster flick that ignores the facts, and that's the film's biggest weakness. I liked the film for what it was, but there were things that I didn't enjoy, such as the Gestapo trying to be the heroes and save the Hindenburg was out of place. I think it's sickening that they tried to make them the heroes of the film, and considering that Gestapo were a symbol of Nazi Oppression, they should never have put that in the film, and stuck to the facts. Facts are what make true disasters interesting to retell and captivate an audience, and I think they could have reworked some aspects of the film slightly to make it much more entertaining. Enjoyable, and flawed, The Hindenburg nonetheless is a good film and manages to overcome its flaws by culminating with a good climax. This film is very different than other films that appeared during this time because it was based on true events, and despite the fact that the film's plot was altered to try to give it more drama, this is a good film that should appeal to disaster film fans who are want something that really happened. The acting is pretty good for what it is, and there's enough to like here to make The Hidenburg a fun little flick to enjoy, a much underrated film that doesn't deserve all the flack it has received.More
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