Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

27 June 2007

Oh the Humanity!

Robert Wise's 1975 film The Hindenburg is a curious kind of disaster film. It was made in the 1970s, in peak disaster film time (Airport was made in 1970, The Poseidon Adventure was '72, then Earthquake and the mother of all disaster films The Towering Inferno arrived in '74). The Hindenburg is set up like a disaster film, too. It's cast is enormous: George C. Scott, Gig Young, Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Roy Thinnes. And in what I guess is a weird coincidence, William Atherton, Burgess Meredith and Richard A. Dysart, all of whom were in (also from 1975) The Day of the Locust, which I just screened earlier this week.

The weird thing about The Hindenburg is that the disaster doesn't happen until the last half hour of the film. All of the rest is just setup. Seriously, there are ninety minutes of setup. It's really strange. The Hindenburg, I suppose, unlike most other disaster films is based on fact, and so it is hampered a little by history, but it's an oddly made film. It's also not nearly as campy as other disaster films (see my review of Airport '77). Robert Wise, instead, has made a serious drama, dealing with anti-Nazi Germans and the difficulties of living in Germany for conscientious objectors to Hitler's regime. The acting is excellent (Anne Bancroft and William Atherton in particular) and the special effects are pretty cool for 1975. Anyway, it's worth a look-see if you're into disaster flicks.