Zeppelin's Last Raid (1918)

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Though Thomas H. Ince was credited as director of the propagandistic melodrama The Zeppelin's Last Raid, the man who actually wielded the megaphone was Irvin Willat, who also wrote the script. Intended as a companion picture to Ince's pacifist epic Civilization, Zeppelin's Last Raid argued that the only way to ensure a lasting peace after WWI was to expunge Prussian militarism from the hearts of the German people. Surprisingly, very few aerial-warfare films were made during WWI, so this Ince production, concentrating as it did on a seemingly indestructible Zeppelin and its crew, was considered something of a novelty back in 1917. Likewise unusual was the fact that the airship-commander hero, played by Howard Hickman), was a German -- albeit a conscience-stricken one who ultimately refuses to bomb innocent civilians, choosing to take his own life instead (This last-mentioned plot twist was characteristic of director Willat, who admitted in later years that he was not altogether unsympathetic to the Germans). Zeppelin's Last Raid no longer exists, but production stills indicate that most of the flying sequences were accomplished with miniatures and trick photography.