6.3/10
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24 user 13 critic

Dirigible (1931)

Passed | | Adventure | 4 April 1931 (USA)
Jack Bradon is tasked to reach the South Pole with a dirigible.

Director:

Frank Capra (as Frank R. Capra)

Writers:

Frank Wead (story) (as Commander Frank Wilber Wead U.S.N.), Jo Swerling (adaptation)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jack Holt ... Jack Bradon
Ralph Graves ... 'Frisky' Pierce
Fay Wray ... Helen Pierce
Hobart Bosworth ... Louis Rondelle
Roscoe Karns ... Sock McGuire
Harold Goodwin ... Hansen
Clarence Muse ... Clarence
Emmett Corrigan ... Rear Adm. John S. Martin (as Emmet Corrigan)
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Storyline

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 <m.crew@bbcnc.org.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Giant epic of the air! (One-sheet poster).

Genres:

Adventure

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 April 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Luftschiff See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The production was shot during a California heat wave. To form vapor on the breath and give the impression that the pilots were in the Antarctic, the performers were given lumps of 'dry ice' (frozen carbon dioxide) in metal boxes to put in their mouths. Hobart Bosworth found the box cumbersome and simply put the ice in his mouth. He lost his tongue and most of his lower jaw. See more »

Goofs

In the opening scene, the Capitol Dome is shown outside of Admiral Martin's window. The Navy Yard is over 2 miles from the Capitol and it would not be seen from inside his office. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Lady with the Torch (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
(uncredited)
Written by Wallis Willis
Sung a cappella by Clarence Muse
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fascinating look at the U.S. Navy's airships in early '30s...
18 May 2009 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

The "7" is strictly for the amazing aerial scenes involving airships or dirigibles (like the Hindenberg that crashed at Lakehurst, N.J.). In fact, all of the aviation moments are skillfully photographed for dramatic effect, especially the fierce electrical storm that destroys one of the dirigibles by pulling it apart in mid-flight.

The romance on the ground is far less convincing than the action sequences involving pilots flying to the South Pole. FAY WRAY is the femme lead, hopelessly in love with hubby RALPH GRAVES and begging his best friend JACK HOLT not to use him on his expedition to the South Pole. She's sick of staying behind and worrying about him and his grandstanding exploits. Unfortunately, none of the domestic scenes between Graves and Wray bear any semblance to reality--her weeping gets pretty tiresome before the plot is resolved.

But FAY WRAY was unquestionably a beautiful woman and director Frank Capra gives her plenty of close-ups. Her role is not particularly well written and she has trouble being anything more than a decorative ploy. RALPH GRAVES is not totally convincing as a reckless pilot. There's an awkwardness about his acting that is somewhat disconcerting here. JACK HOLT handles his role with authority and good screen presence.

A fascinating look at early aviation exploits using dirigibles and balloons when they were seriously considered to be the modern methods of aviation. Well worth watching.


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