Hindenburg: The Last Flight
Back in 1975 Hollywood turned the events surrounding the 1937 explosion of the German zeppelin Hindenburg into a deliciously campy excuse for an all-star disaster epic. Sadly, this two-part German television mini-series is lacking in both star power and guilty pleasure entertainment. Instead, it offers a dreary conspiracy story grafted on an equally damp love story that feels like an airborne ripoff of "Titanic."
In this case, the villain is a ruthless American oil tycoon (Stacy Keach, in full scenery chomping fury) who wants to break down an embargo on selling helium to the Nazi government, which is using the combustible hydrogen gas to float its zeppelin fleet. While vacationing in Germany, his socialite daughter (Lauren Lee Smith) has the ridiculous good fortune to rescue engineer Merten Kroger (Maximilian Simonischek, sporting Leonardo DiCaprio’s "Titanic" haircut) after he crashes his glider into a lake. They immediately fall in love, but their union is interrupted when the rich young lady and her chic mother (Greta Scacchi) book passage on the Hindenburg. Kroger discovers there might be a bomb on the aircraft, so he sneaks on board the Hindenburg and tries to determine which one of the passengers is carrying the explosive device.
Of course, the production has zero suspense level because everyone knows what will happen once the Hindenburg arrives at its final destination. And, yes, that now-infamous Herb Morrison radio broadcast covering the Hindenburg’s explosion ("Oh, the humanity!") gets trotted out once more while the zeppelin crashes and burns.
While the climactic special effects are fairly impressive, the fiery conclusion fails to compensate for the lack of fireworks between the wooden romantic leads. Even worse, it appears that the dubbing of the primarily German cast was done by voice performers that learned their English dialogue phonetically - this is a rare example of a dialogue-heavy production that would have been richer had it been presented as a silent movie.
"Hindenburg: The Last Flight"
DVD, Anchor Bay Entertainment
191 minutes, $29.98, Not rated