Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Zeppelin (1971)

In many respects a generic hybrid of military adventure and the disaster genre, Zeppelin is nonetheless quite watchable because of its handsome cast and impressive production values. Set during World War I, the picture concerns Geoffrey (Michael York), a Scotsman who grew up spending summers in Germany. His unique lineage leads him to become a double agent: He “defects” to Germany and joins the team developing a new airship capable of bombing enemies from high altitudes, but in reality he’s a plant for the British. In short order, the titular craft takes off for its maiden voyage, a brazen raid on British soil, and Geoffrey has to muck up the mission however possible. If the plot sounds exciting, don’t be fooled—much of the movie is chatty travelogue, and the storytellers never find a way to make their lead character the center of the action. On the bright side, the action bits are lively, especially during the finale; the well-conceived FX were cutting-edge at the time; and the filmmakers didn’t skimp on costumes, sets, or general visual grandeur. As for the acting, the energy level conjured by York and comely costar Elke Sommer is dangerously low, but Anton Diffing makes a great cold-blooded Nazi, and Marius Goring (years after his signature tortured-artist role in The Red Shoes) is effective as a conflicted scientist. Of special interest for fans of old-school FX, Zeppelin is Saturday-afternoon fun of the most undemanding sort. (Available at

Zeppelin: FUNKY

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