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(story) (as John Francis Natteford), (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
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Commander Donald Hall
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Miriam Hall
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Tom Armstrong
Duke Martin ...
Lieutenant Wallace
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Nancy
Winter Hall ...
Mr. Wilson
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The Mightiest Thrill Picture of All Time! See more »

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Adventure

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Release Date:

20 December 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El zeppelin perdido  »

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(RCA Photophone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Trivia

This film, like Capra's Dirigible (1931), is also loosely based on the crash of the airship Italia, flown by Umberto Nobile, around May 25, 1928 near the North Pole, and the international rescue effort that cost early polar explorer Roald Amundson his life. The pilot who rescued Nobile also crashed when returning to rescue more survivors and had to be rescued himself. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Why poverty row studios didn't make it – an example
9 April 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I struggled to stay with this film to see it to the end. I give it two stars just for a try at a plot. Besides some very good silent films of the 1920s, I've rated about a dozen talkies of 1929 from 7 to 10 stars. Those were all produced by Paramount, MGM, Warner Brothers and a British studio.

"The Lost Zeppelin" was made by one of the 80 or so poverty row studios that existed in the early years of movie making. Tiffany-Stahl lasted longer than most, from 1921 to 1931, and turned out 70 films in that time. This was one of its last. And this film is a good example of why it and the host of poverty row studios didn't last. The few good directors and technicians that started in the lower echelons eventually made it into the big studios or went with a successful independent that would later make it big or merge into one of the other studios.

Normally, I wouldn't bother to review a film I rate so low. But since this is now out on DVD, I thought prospective viewers might like more comment than has been posted on IMDb to this time. I won't urge folks not to watch this – but you should know what to expect before you plunk down cash to buy or rent it. Indeed, I had some inkling of what it was about, but I wanted to see it for myself. And, I'm glad I did – because I now know what the very cheap poverty row films were like.

Everything about this film is poor, with the possible exception of the sound from the dialog. The sets are very amateurish and poor – such as an airplane door that slides open. No kidding – just like a sliding door in a house. Then, when a crew person opens the door, it starts to fall out of its track and he shoves it back. The airplane engine noise is some strange irritating sound created by sound effects, and doesn't sound anything like a plane engine. The film quality itself is barely watchable. The script is something that a third-grade student might create today. But the directing and acting are the very worst.

Conway Tearle and Ricardo Cortez had small movie careers through the 1930s. But those were mostly in B films. The rest of the cast are actors who couldn't make the transition from silent to sound. Virginia Valli had made more than 60 films in the silent era; but after this, she made only two more before retiring from films at age 35. That's when many of the best actors begin to shine. The acting is very hammy in this, and one can see long pauses and long glances at the camera – techniques used in the silent films to allow subtitles to show. While the voices of all this cast were OK, they apparently couldn't transition to real acting. There were many silent film stars who didn't succeed in sound films because their unusual voices didn't fit their images in the minds of the movie-going public.

So, this isn't likely to be very entertaining; but if you want to see an example of the hundreds and even thousands of early films that aren't around anymore – and of the type of films put out by the short-lived and over-night cheap studios, then you may enjoy watching "The Lost Zeppelin."

I found this bit of trivia that movie buffs might enjoy. Apparently, MGM bought Tiffany's original film library and used it for fuel in "Gone with the Wind." It went up in flames in the scene of the burning of Atlanta. I doubt if it was very expensive kindling.


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