The Lost Zeppelin (December 20, 1929)

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The Lost Zeppelin, leaving Washington D.C. with the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building in the background
 

Released on December 20, 1929: Explorers to the South Pole in an airship Zeppelin crash in the frozen Antarctic and must struggle for survival in the land of eternal snow and ice.

Directed by Edward Sloman

The Actors: Conway Tearle (Commander Donald Hall), Virginia Valli (Miriam Hall), Ricardo Cortez (Tom Armstrong), Duke Martin (Lieutenant Wallace), Kathryn McGuire (Nancy), Winter Hall (Mr. Wilson), Richard Cramer (radio announcer), Ervin Nyiregyhazi (pianiast), William H. O'Brien (radio operator)

 

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Death in the Land of Eternal Ice and Snow

Until I left home at the age of 18 I had never been inside a real movie theater . . . the only movies I saw were the old movies shown on television. The first disaster movie that I can recall watching in a theater is The Poseidon Adventure in 1972 about a luxury ocean liner that turns completely upside down leaving a handful of survivors to make their way to the bottom of the ship, which is now the only part that is now above water. That disaster was not based on a real event, but this disaster story is based on a real event. On May 25, 1928 the Italian dirigible Italia, flown by explorer Umberto Nobile, crashed during a fierce storm while trying to reach the North Pole. Nine survivors and one fatality were thrust from the cabin of the airship when it bounced on the ice before drifting on. The cabin of the ship has never been found, but the survivors fortunately were on an iceberg that floated towards an island that they were recovered from. The news of the horrible exploration tragedy was quickly spread around the globe . . . . well, quickly by 1928 standards . . . before the internet and almost instant communication around the world. Now, about a year later, this motion picture brought the horror of that disaster to the big screen, adding a bit of extra drama with the love triangle of the ships Commander, his wife, and his best friend. The night before the great adventure begins the Commander, played by Conway Tearle, his wife Miriam, played by Virginia Valli, and his second in command Tom Armstrong, played by Ricardo Cortez, are at a farewell dinner in Washington, D.C. After the dinner the Commander spots his wife and his best friend gripped in a tight hug and kiss. Before the night is over and the two men depart for their life-threatening adventure Miriam confesses to her husband that she is in love with Tom and wants her freedom. With this background, these two men will soon be in a life-and-death struggle against the wintry elements of the frozen Antarctic. Will both men return safely? If not, which one will return to the waiting arms of Miriam . . . her husband that she asked for a divorce from, or her newly acclaimed lover? Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with lots of warm melted butter drizzled on it and enjoy the show . . . and don't forget to grab a warm blanket to wrap around you, because this will be a very cold adventure. P.S. - this adventure has a second ending, just like this review . . . right near the end when we expect to see the closing credits, the adventure suddenly takes a left turn and against all odds the ending will be re-written with an exciting, heart-throbbing surprise.

Conway Tearle and Ricardo Cortez in The Lost Zeppelin
Conway Tearle and Ricardo Cortez in The Lost Zeppelin
Conway Tearle and Ricardo Valli face off over Miriam
Conway Tearle and Ricardo Valli face off over Miriam
Conway Tearle sees his wife kissing his best friend
Conway Tearle sees his wife kissing his best friend
Duke Martin as rescue pilot Lieutenant Wallace
Duke Martin as rescue pilot Lieutenant Wallace
Ricardo Cortez and Virginia Valli
Ricardo Cortez and Virginia Valli
Ricardo Cortez and Virginia Valli
Ricardo Cortez and Virginia Valli
Ricardo Cortez and Virginia Valli kiss in the garden
Ricardo Cortez and Virginia Valli kiss in the garden
Virginia Valli listens to her radio
Virginia Valli listens to her radio for the special announcements about the expedition
Virginia Valli primps before going to the farewell dinner
Virginia Valli primps before going to the farewell dinner
Virginia Valli watches the Zeppelin leave with her two men aboard
Virginia Valli watches the Zeppelin leave with her two men aboard