Disney Double-Feature: The Black Hole (1979)

So how did Disney fare with its first PG-rated film?

The Black Hole

Cast & Crew

Directed by Gary Nelson
Story by Jeb Rosebrook, Bob Barbash, and Richard H. Landau

Maximilian Schell as Dr. Hans Reinhardt
Anthony Perkins as Dr. Alex Durant
Robert Forster as Capt. Dan Holland
Joseph Bottoms as Lt. Charles Pizer
Yvette Mimieux as Dr. Kate McCrae
Ernest Borgnine as Harry Booth
Roddy McDowall as V.I.N.CENT. (Vital Information Necessary CENTralized) (voice)
Slim Pickens as Bob (voice)

Full IMDB Listing

Original Theatrical Release

December 20, 1979

DVD Release

August 3, 2004

Buy from Amazon.comBuy from Amazon.ca

DVD Features

  • Available subtitles: French
  • Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French, Spanish
  • Making-of featurette
  • Extended trailer


The crew of spaceship Palimino stumbles across the "lost" ship Cygnus. Crewed entirely by robots save for one, the brilliant, but unhinged Dr. Reinhardt. His plan is to unlock the mysteries of the black hole.


Some things get better with age. Not so with this movie. The pacing is too slow, and the characters are thin, save for the villain.

High Point

  • The revelation about the crew’s fate. Still creepy.
  • Schell makes for a good, almost Nemo-like villain.

Low Points

  • Make the bad theme music stop, Mommy!
  • What’s with the robot racism, V.I.N.CENT? Where’s the love for your fellow bot? At any rate, it’s gets old really fast.
  • Atmospheric decompression has never been done so poorly.
  • Fly through a black hole? Beg yer pardon?

The Scores

Originality: Well, it was a fairly unique, but with elements borrowed heavily from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.4

Effects: Some excellent effect, arguably some of the finest of its time. 6

Story: Lifted from other work and very poorly paced. 3

Acting: Schell’s good and creepy, but everyone else is uneven. And I can’t seperate Anthony Perkins from Norman Bates. 3

Emotional Response: For younger audiences, this should give some thrills and chills, but the pacing may lose their attention. 4

Extras: Not a lot of extras, but the making-of was thorough and well done. 4

Overall: If you need a nostalgia fix, go get it. 4

Total: 28 out of 42


Additional Notes and Comments

If you’re interested in what’s in TheAngryMob’s review queue, check out my What’s Coming page.


4 replies on “Disney Double-Feature: The Black Hole (1979)”

  1. Schell’s death scene…
    Was great. While I felt that the how he died was very much deserved, it was still tragic. My two beefs were…

    1. The cue with the gunfight with the guards on the overhead catwalk thingie. It was kind of like having the James Bond theme going during a gunfight in a James Bond movie – It makes it clear Bond’s going to win without breaking a sweat.
    2. Earnest Borgnine’s acting in general, but especially his character’s death. Okay, so all of a sudden, for nor apparent reason, he’s a backstabbing weasel, and tries to steal the ship, which he doesn’t know how to fly in the first place? WTF?

    Other then that, and aside from a few physics messups elsewhere in the film (like the crew-members who aren’t in space-suits floating into the vacumm and surviving), I still find the film fairly enjoyable. Target has the DVD for $9.99. At that price, it’s defintely worth picking up.

  2. Development hell?
    Wasn’t this one of those movies that was in development hell for ages and went through numerous rewrites ‘n stuff?


  3. Cygnus

    I’ve always loved the design of the Cygnus. As a kid, i can recall drawing it over and over and over because it was just so cool.

    That, and the bodyguard/enforcer robot (Maximilian?) are about all I remember from this flick.)

    • Re: Cygnus
      I loved the design of the Palimino as well. In fact, I liked just about everything in the movie from the three main robot designs, ship designs, and dual barrel laser guns. I cut it some slack for its age now, but even so it is a good flick. I think the pacing was inspired by 2001, which I like. I do wish there was a bit more character development. I don’t know if it is a good thing or a bad thing that there was never a sequal. I remember purchasing a BH comic book, I may still have it, but as I recall it continued after the crew “passed” through the black hole.

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