Michael M. Mooney’s non-fiction compendium of the facts and theories behind the German zeppelin’s 1937 air disaster at NAS, Lakehurst, new Jersey, was earlier dramatized for the screen by Richard A. Levinson and William Link, and both receive a screen story credit.
George C. Scott stars as an air ace assigned as special security officer on the fatal Atlantic crossing.
The array of characters is dealt boringly from a well-thumbed deck: Anne Bancroft, eccentric German countess; Roy Thinnes, Scott’s nasty partner; Gig Young, mysterious and nervous ad agency exec; Burgess Meredith and Rene Auberjonois, an improbable and dull effort at comedy relief as tourist-trapping card cheats; Robert Clary, also bombing in cardboard comedy relief, the list goes on. William Atherton emerges as the good-guy crewman saboteur who plans to blow up the ship. A battle of mental wits ensues between Scott, Thinnes and Atherton; it’s as exciting as watching butter melt.
1975: Honorary Award (visual and sound effects).
Nominations: Best Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound