In 1929, celebrated journalist Lady Grace Drummond-Hay was invited to take part in the first round-the-world flight of a commercial airship, the LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin. Recently widowed from ... See full summary »
In 1929, celebrated journalist Lady Grace Drummond-Hay was invited to take part in the first round-the-world flight of a commercial airship, the LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin. Recently widowed from a man 50 years her senior and bored to tears with covering ladies fashion, Lady Grace leaped at the chance to be the only woman onboard one of the media sensations of the decade. At journey's end she returned to America a star, thanks to her good looks and gutsy charm. But her reports on the ship's travels for the front pages of the Hearst press empire only told part of the story. In her diary she recorded a far more intimate journey-her struggle to get over her secret affair with shipmate, mentor, and married man Karl von Wiegand. Combining spectacular archival footage of the journey across New York, Siberia, Tokyo, and the Pacific with narration drawn from Drummond's articles and her private journals, this sweeping black and white documentary stands as a vision of technological marvels and global ... Written by
Los Angeles Film Festival
Circumspect: Love circumscribed during first airship circumnavigation 1929
I watched this film on BBC TV where it was titled "Around the World by Zeppelin" - and an excellent documentary it indeed is.
Contemporary black and white film of the German airship LZ 127 "Graf Zeppelin" (1928), with her 20 passengers and 40 crew, embark on a 21-day voyage to be the first airship to circumnavigate the globe. From Lakehurst Naval Air Station, near New York, and back, across the Atlantic Ocean, over England and Berlin, over the Soviet Union and Siberia, over the Pacific Ocean to Tokyo and on to Los Angeles and across the middle of the United States.
At around 70 mph it's a sedate journey, except when the weather is bad. It's an adventure and, the only woman on board is Grace, Lady Hay Drummond-Hay, who becomes the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by air. It is her diary and reports that give the narrative, and her love interest the weaves in and out of this story of the history of the airship and aviation.
As well as real live footage of the airship - taken from her and taken of her - interwoven is contemporary footage of the late 1920s to help illustrate the female journalist's words.
A great liner is seen in the opening frames, the three-funnelled 54,282-grt United States Lines "Leviathan" - ironically, formerly the German liner "Vaterland" (1913), briefly the largest liner in the world, but handed over to the US as war reparations in 1919.
Towards the end of the film, the "Graf Zeppelin" passes over Honda Point, off California, where lie the wrecks of seven US Navy four-stack destroyers that were lost, with just 23 sailors lives, on 8 September 1923 in the greatest peacetime disaster for the USN. The ships, part of Destroyer Squadron Eleven, were lost in the Honda Point Disaster owing to navigational errors at night. A photograph, with the ships' names is posted online, but one is identifiable in the film, the USS Woodbury (DD 309 - the number clear still on her bow, as she lies on her port side) and that close to her is USS Fuller. It is a sorry sight. The ships were not salvaged until some years after the disaster.
Shortly before arrived in Los Angeles, off Monterey County, the airship sees and passes directly over the American inter-coastal Luckenbach Lines' two-funnelled steamship "Edward Luckenbach", where passengers are seen playing deck games abaft the after funnel.
There are many other twists and sights to see in this exciting and historic documentary, including various early aircraft but I am not competent to identify them. What happened to the young stowaway, one wonders - did he become the film star he wanted to be?
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