Spirit of St. Louis, The (1957)

The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), directed by Billy Wilder.

Leisurely paced, reverent bio-pic of Lindbergh and his solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927. Jimmy Stewart is 20 years older than his character, but both were 6'3" and had the same boyish charm.

Several flying replicas of the plane were built for the movie and there are some exciting moments; wondering whether he would get off of the ground reminded me of the early space launches. I think some of the dramatic incidents of the movie are fiction, but it has been so long since I looked at the book that I can't be sure. I did not remember the film being color or widescreen, an indication of how long it's been since I last saw it.

Lindbergh was a towering heroic figure of the twentieth century, whose biography has never been completely presented on film. He married Anne Morrow, also an aviator, who later became a fine author. Their baby was kidnapped and murdered in the "crime of the century". Before the war he was accused of racist and pro-Nazi sentiments. A leader of the isolationist America First movement, after Pearl Harbor he signed up and served in the Pacific. After the war he consulted on aviation issues in government and industry and adopted some environmental causes.

I recall several TV movies about the kidnapping, and an early Tracy and Hepburn film, Keeper of the Flame (1942), seemed to me an anti-Lindbergh vehicle.

Franz Waxman score.

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