A French explorer enlists the help of the US Navy in an expedition to the South Pole. There is competition between the airship division and fixed wing fliers, resolved in triumph and ... See full summary »
A French explorer enlists the help of the US Navy in an expedition to the South Pole. There is competition between the airship division and fixed wing fliers, resolved in triumph and disasters. Written by
Michael Crew <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film is 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 »
Historically speaking, this film is amazing--too bad some of the plot elements also make it, at times, quite dull
This is a must-see film for people like me. I am a history teacher and love aviation and especially dirigibles. Despite how amazingly large and spectacular these airships were, very few films were ever made about them. Here, fortunately, is a homage to America's rather ill-fated dirigible service operated by the US Navy. Additionally, fans of naval aviation will also be thrilled by the airplanes and aircraft carrier (USS Lexington) featured in the film. However, to those out there that could care less about these things, there is little that will interest you about the film--particularly since the romance in the film seems "tacked on" and confusing.
But first, a bit of background. In the 1930s, the Navy purchased some of these airships from the Germans and also made some their own--all of which eventually crashed! Some of this was due to pilot error and some of this was due to the weaknesses of the American designs. So, since the use of these enormous gas-bags was limited to a very short period of time, there just isn't all that much information about them. In hindsight, they were a very cool idea that was already impractical and outdated--at least as far as military use goes. One of the airships in the film (the Pensacola) did not exist, while the Los Angeles was an actual airship.
So back to the film. The aerial sequences are generally quite good and a lot of actual footage was rather seamlessly integrated into the film--in particular, the amazing Aviation Day sequence where two dirigibles and many non-rigid airships fill the screen. Also, while a bit ponderous, the Antarctic scenes were well made and interesting. BUT, the gratuitous romance just got in the way of the film and made no sense. Because Fay Wray loved her husband so much, she wanted to leave him? And then, when he's nearly killed, she calls off her plans to run away with his ex-best friend and returns! It's convoluted and senseless and a major distraction.
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