The Hindenburg


1h 56m 1975
The Hindenburg

Brief Synopsis

Sabotage causes the airship Hindenburg to crash on arrival at New York in this disaster film.

Film Details

Also Known As
Hindenburg
MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Disaster
Historical
War
Release Date
Jan 1975
Premiere Information
not available
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 56m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints), Mono (Westrex Recording System) (35 mm prints)
Color
Black and White, Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

In 1937, sabotage causes the airship Hindenburg to crash on arrival at New York.

Film Details

Also Known As
Hindenburg
MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Disaster
Historical
War
Release Date
Jan 1975
Premiere Information
not available
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 56m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints), Mono (Westrex Recording System) (35 mm prints)
Color
Black and White, Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1975

Best Cinematography

1975

Best Sound

1975

Articles

The Hindenburg


The vogue for disaster movies in Hollywood precipitated by Airport (1970) and popularized by the success of The Poseidon Adventure (1972), The Towering Inferno (1974), and Earthquake (1974) sent studio executives scrambling in all directions for inspiration - even to their history books. Placed into the capable hands of veteran director Robert Wise, The Hindenburg (1975) straddled the worlds of known fact and speculation as it attempted to chronicle the infamous 1937 German airship disaster and explain how the tragic event might have happened. Though the production benefited from an uncommon amount of preproduction research, meticulous craftsmanship (Universal Pictures shelled out for a 25 foot scale model of the doomed dirigible), and a topflight cast in George C. Scott, Anne Bancroft, Burgess Meredith, Gig Young, and Charles Durning, The Hindenburg proved unpalatable to critics of the day, who were pointed in their disdain for a story whose heroes were all Nazis. The film earned back nearly double its $15 million budget but the bottom line fell below the standard set by The Towering Inferno, which had brought in over $100 million in domestic rentals. Seen in retrospect, The Hindenburg is less a disaster flick than a whodunit in the Murder on the Orient Express (1974) mode, with Scott's disillusioned Luftwaffe colonel attempting to ferret out a potential saboteur from a blimpload of potential suspects - small wonder, given that screenwriters Richard Levinson and William Link were the creators of the long-running TV detective series Columbo.

By Richard Harland Smith
The Hindenburg

The Hindenburg

The vogue for disaster movies in Hollywood precipitated by Airport (1970) and popularized by the success of The Poseidon Adventure (1972), The Towering Inferno (1974), and Earthquake (1974) sent studio executives scrambling in all directions for inspiration - even to their history books. Placed into the capable hands of veteran director Robert Wise, The Hindenburg (1975) straddled the worlds of known fact and speculation as it attempted to chronicle the infamous 1937 German airship disaster and explain how the tragic event might have happened. Though the production benefited from an uncommon amount of preproduction research, meticulous craftsmanship (Universal Pictures shelled out for a 25 foot scale model of the doomed dirigible), and a topflight cast in George C. Scott, Anne Bancroft, Burgess Meredith, Gig Young, and Charles Durning, The Hindenburg proved unpalatable to critics of the day, who were pointed in their disdain for a story whose heroes were all Nazis. The film earned back nearly double its $15 million budget but the bottom line fell below the standard set by The Towering Inferno, which had brought in over $100 million in domestic rentals. Seen in retrospect, The Hindenburg is less a disaster flick than a whodunit in the Murder on the Orient Express (1974) mode, with Scott's disillusioned Luftwaffe colonel attempting to ferret out a potential saboteur from a blimpload of potential suspects - small wonder, given that screenwriters Richard Levinson and William Link were the creators of the long-running TV detective series Columbo. By Richard Harland Smith

Robert Wise (1914-2005)


Robert Wise, who died at age 91 on September 14, was the noted film editor of Citizen Kane (1941) and other movies before he became a producer and director, and all his works are marked by striking visual rhythms. He is best remembered for two enormously popular musicals, West Side Story (1959) and The Sound of Music (1965), which brought him a total of four Oscars® -- each winning for Best Picture and Best Director. (Wise's directorial award for West Side Story was shared with Jerome Robbins.)

Born on September 10, 1914 in Winchester, Ind., Wise was a child of the Depression who quit college to earn a living in the movie industry. He began as an assistant cutter at RKO, where he worked his way up to the position of film editor and earned an Oscar® nomination for his bravura work with Orson Welles on Citizen Kane. He also edited The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) for Welles, along with several other RKO films.

Wise became a director by default when RKO and producer Val Lewton assigned him to The Curse of the Cat People (1944) after Gunther von Fritsch failed to meet the film's production schedule. Wise turned the film into a first-rate psychological thriller, and enjoyed equal success with another Lewton horror film, The Body Snatcher (1945).

Critical praise also was showered upon Wise's Born to Kill (1947), a crime melodrama; and Blood on the Moon (1948), an unusual psychological Western starring Robert Mitchum. Even more highly regarded was The Set-Up (1949), a no-punches-pulled boxing drama that won the Critics' Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Wise moved on from RKO in the early 1950s, directing one of the movies' classic alien invasion films, The Day the Earth Stood Still, for 20th Century Fox.

At MGM he directed Executive Suite (1954), a compelling all-star boardroom drama; Somebody Up There Likes Me, a film bio of boxer Rocky Graziano that established Paul Newman as a major star; and The Haunting (1963), a chilling haunted-hause melodrama. His films for United Artists include Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), a submarine drama with Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster; I Want to Live! (1958), a harrowing account of a convicted murderess on Death Row, with Susan Hayward in her Oscar-winning performance; and the crime caper Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).

Wise served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Directors Guild of America. He was awarded the Academy's Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1966, and the Directors Guild's highest honor, the D.W. Griffith Award, in 1988. He remained active as a director through the 1970s. His final film, Rooftops (1989) was a musical with an urban setting that recalled West Side Story.

The films in TCM's salute to Robert Wise are Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Curse of the Cat People (1944), The Body Snatcher (1945), Born to Kill (1947), Blood on the Moon (1948), The Set-Up (1949), Executive Suite (1954), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), B>West Side Story (1959), Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) and The Haunting (1963).

by Roger Fristoe

Robert Wise (1914-2005)

Robert Wise, who died at age 91 on September 14, was the noted film editor of Citizen Kane (1941) and other movies before he became a producer and director, and all his works are marked by striking visual rhythms. He is best remembered for two enormously popular musicals, West Side Story (1959) and The Sound of Music (1965), which brought him a total of four Oscars® -- each winning for Best Picture and Best Director. (Wise's directorial award for West Side Story was shared with Jerome Robbins.) Born on September 10, 1914 in Winchester, Ind., Wise was a child of the Depression who quit college to earn a living in the movie industry. He began as an assistant cutter at RKO, where he worked his way up to the position of film editor and earned an Oscar® nomination for his bravura work with Orson Welles on Citizen Kane. He also edited The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) for Welles, along with several other RKO films. Wise became a director by default when RKO and producer Val Lewton assigned him to The Curse of the Cat People (1944) after Gunther von Fritsch failed to meet the film's production schedule. Wise turned the film into a first-rate psychological thriller, and enjoyed equal success with another Lewton horror film, The Body Snatcher (1945). Critical praise also was showered upon Wise's Born to Kill (1947), a crime melodrama; and Blood on the Moon (1948), an unusual psychological Western starring Robert Mitchum. Even more highly regarded was The Set-Up (1949), a no-punches-pulled boxing drama that won the Critics' Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Wise moved on from RKO in the early 1950s, directing one of the movies' classic alien invasion films, The Day the Earth Stood Still, for 20th Century Fox. At MGM he directed Executive Suite (1954), a compelling all-star boardroom drama; Somebody Up There Likes Me, a film bio of boxer Rocky Graziano that established Paul Newman as a major star; and The Haunting (1963), a chilling haunted-hause melodrama. His films for United Artists include Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), a submarine drama with Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster; I Want to Live! (1958), a harrowing account of a convicted murderess on Death Row, with Susan Hayward in her Oscar-winning performance; and the crime caper Odds Against Tomorrow (1959). Wise served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Directors Guild of America. He was awarded the Academy's Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1966, and the Directors Guild's highest honor, the D.W. Griffith Award, in 1988. He remained active as a director through the 1970s. His final film, Rooftops (1989) was a musical with an urban setting that recalled West Side Story. The films in TCM's salute to Robert Wise are Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Curse of the Cat People (1944), The Body Snatcher (1945), Born to Kill (1947), Blood on the Moon (1948), The Set-Up (1949), Executive Suite (1954), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), B>West Side Story (1959), Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) and The Haunting (1963). by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

We're all gonna die! Where's the bomb!
- Colonel Franz Ritter
Out Ritter, I've taken over!
- Martin Vogel
Well countess, I've never enjoyed losing so much!
- Elliot Howell III
Excuse me, I'm just a poor gypsy.
- Karl Boerth
A drink to the one I love. The Hindenburg!
- Officer
They act like Gypsies.
- Woman

Trivia

A real-life tragedy nearly happened during the filming of the Hindenburg's fiery death. A full-scale section of the Zeppelin's nose was built for the film, and was set to be destroyed by fire for the film's final destruction sequence. A half-dozen stunt artists wearing fire-retardant gear were placed in the nose replica as it was set afire; however, the fire quickly got out of control, causing several stunt artists to get lost in the smoke, damaging several cameras filming the action, and nearly destroying the sound stage. Some of the footage from this sequence was used in the final cut of the film, but the full sequence, as it had been planned, was not included.

The film includes clips from the actual newsreel footage of the airship's explosion and fire. The recording played just before the closing credits is the actual eye-witness account of news reporter Herbert Morrison, describing the Hindenburg disaster.

Several of the depictions of escapes from the airship as it was crashing were based on fact. These include the cabin boy who was doused with water from an bursting ballast bag, and the circus acrobat who escaped by swinging from a loose mooring rope.

A miniature of the Zeppelin "Hindenburg" was constructed for filming. The "miniature" was over 25 feet in length, and was able to be "flown" by suspension cables in front of a backdrop. The miniature was donated to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, where it is on display.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1975

Re-released in United States on Video June 29, 1994

Released in USA on video.

Released in USA on laserdisc (letterboxed version) April 18, 1991.

Released in United States 1975

Re-released in United States on Video June 29, 1994