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The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)

Approved | | Adventure, Biography, Drama | 20 April 1957 (USA)
Charles 'Slim' Lindbergh struggles to finance and design an airplane that will make his New York to Paris flight the first solo transatlantic crossing.

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Writers:

(book), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Bud Gurney
Patricia Smith ...
Mirror Girl
...
Benjamin Frank Mahoney, President Ryan Airlines Co.
...
Father Hussman
...
Donald Hall, Chief Engineer Ryan Airlines
Charles Watts ...
O.W. Schultz, Salesman Atlas Suspender Co.
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Storyline

Biography of Charles Lindburgh from his days of precarious mail runs in aviation's infancy to his design of a small transatlantic plane and the vicissitudes of its takeoff and epochal flight from New York to Paris in 1927. Written by Paul Emmons <pemmons@wcupa.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The once-in-a-lifetime excitement of America's most exciting era! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 April 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lindbergh - Mein Flug über den Ozean  »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)|

Color:

(WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jack L Warner said at the time that this was " the most disastrous failure we ever had". See more »

Goofs

In the movie, Father Hussman was depicted as a comically inept student. However, in Lindbergh's book, Hussman was presented as quite an accomplished aviation pupil and often soloed as Lindbergh daydreamed in the instructor's seat. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Reporter: [checking his copy] Here at the Garden City Hotel, less than a mile from Roosevelt Field... less than three-quarters of a mile from Roosevelt Field... everyone is waiting, as they have been now for seven days and nights, waiting for the rain to stop...
See more »

Connections

Featured in Wyatt Earp: Walk with a Legend (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

La Marseillaise
(uncredited)
Music by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Arranged by Franz Waxman
Played briefly during the opening credits
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User Reviews

 
the little engine that could
21 May 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Jimmy Stewart is Charles Lindbergh in "The Spirit of St. Louis," a 1957 film directed by Billy Wilder and based on Lindbergh's book about his transatlantic flight.

The film deals with little else but Lindbergh's career up to and including his monumental flight from Roosevelt Field to Le Bourget in France in 33 hours back in 1927. We see Lindbergh as a mail pilot, then attempting to raise funds to buy a plane, though a plane ended up being built by a small aircraft company. And then the flight itself - and Wilder somehow makes it suspenseful and interesting. He really captures the pilot's complete isolation with no copilot or radio, talking to himself (Stewart provides the narration), sleep-deprived, with only the sound of the plane for company, falling asleep at the wheel, and finally, unsure where he was and using map topography to figure it out. It's an amazing story. During the flight sequence, there are flashbacks to earlier points in Lindbergh's life.

The Spirit of St. Louis is replicated, and once seen, it's very hard to believe it got out of Roosevelt Field. Lightweight, Lindbergh made sure it carried only the absolute essentials and refused to even bring a parachute or radio because of the extra weight.

Today, for me anyway, James Stewart is just James Stewart, one of the great film stars and actors. I'm blissfully unaware of his age most of the time, and I was in this film as well. For me, he was tall, lanky Lindbergh, determined to succeed and very likable. I realize that John Kerr was offered the role first, but if he had taken it, the film would have flopped initially, as it did starring Stewart, due to the huge budget, but I don't believe it would hold up as well as it does today.

Heroes are very rarely discussed as human beings, and many of their words and actions are taken out of context and out of the era. Lindbergh was ahead of his time in his environmental and aeronautical pursuits and very much of his time in some of his political beliefs. And as we now know, fidelity wasn't one of his strong points. Reading an excellent, well-researched biography like Scott Berg wrote is preferable to making snap judgments. Hindsight is easy.

Complicated men have complicated lives. You don't achieve what Lindbergh did in the Spirit of St. Louis by being ordinary. Wilder does an excellent job in showing his crowning achievement, and in evoking the excitement people felt at the time.


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