Dirigible Film Details
Overview: Jack Bradon is tasked to reach the South Pole with a dirigible.
Review: For those interested in the history of aviation, the artful integration of old Navy footage of the Los Angeles airship (a German-built Zeppelin which was the 4th aircraft to cross the Atlantic), including footage of the experimental underside mooring mast used for docking an airplane in flight, and the Lakehurst field and hangar, all offer a wonderful slice of history. This footage, and the parts of the film which show the interior of this airship and its mock-ups and use, are wonderful, and many other elements provide a wonderful view of what the world looks like through a 1931 lens. It is interesting to see how some things (parts of the Navy ships), do not look all that dated, while other elements are radically different. This alone makes this film a very worthwhile, and trumps all the issues and complaints below. For many, this alone makes it worthy of a 9 out of 10, although for those without this interest, it is more like a 6. At the story level, there are a lot of holes. There is an inconsistent and totally unbelievable romance kludged on, with a Fay Wray performance that doesn’t work, and will leave you scratching your head. This part is a 1 or 2 out of 10. Like other scripts which take a little bit of current technology and try to extrapolate to spin out a story without really understanding the technology, some parts seems pretty silly today, but this was the view from 1931. The writing seems to be oblivious to the service ceiling of the craft, and the limitations imposed by the large surface area and low speed of the craft when exposed to winds, especially as channeled by terrain. However, in the era shortly before the end of serious airship use, they were losing them at an alarming rate, and the Los Angeles was one of the few that survived to be decommissioned and disassembled. **** SPOILERS BELOW **** The plot has issues. Bravado and personal agendas trump planning on important expeditions and military (Navy) ops (a failing shared with Capra’s 1929 “Flight”, also starring Holt and Graves, which stretched bravado and credulity even further). Here we are to believe that “Frisky”, upon successfully reaching the South Pole, but having dropped most critical supplies to lighten the load, decides to chance a landing on an unknown surface, in an area where no rescue would be possible (per their orders). We are then given scenes at the South Pole which do not represent conditions at the pole. (My uncle was at Byrd Station, and it gets pretty cold there, with average summer temps close to -30C, and it appears that the north and south hemispheres are both in summer, so we are also left to wonder if they understood they are reversed south of the equator.) When a rescue does come, instead of sending people down the rescue lines, they parachute in from a very low altitude for dramatic effect, but then get pulled back in by the lines. Okay, you get to see cool parachuting footage from 1931, so I guess its okay. Overall, a great slice of history with contemporary use of (now) archival footage, but the plot and romance drag the ratings down.
Country: United States
Duration: 100 min
Also known as: Halyvdinoi aetoi,Dirigível,Dirigible,Helden der Luft,Sterowiec L.A. 3,SOS Pensacola kalder,Bragdens män,Das Luftschiff,大飛行船,Le dirigeable,Dirigible (A levegő királya),Dirigibile