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The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)

Approved | | Adventure, Biography, Drama | 20 April 1957 (USA)
3:27 | Trailer
Charles 'Slim' Lindbergh struggles to finance and design an airplane that will make his New York to Paris flight the first solo transatlantic crossing.


Billy Wilder


Charles A. Lindbergh (based on the book by), Billy Wilder (screen play by) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
James Stewart ... Charles Augustus 'Slim' Lindbergh
Murray Hamilton ... Bud Gurney
Patricia Smith ... Mirror Girl
Bartlett Robinson ... Benjamin Frank Mahoney - President, Ryan Airlines Co.
Marc Connelly ... Father Hussman
Arthur Space ... Donald Hall - Chief Engineer, Ryan Airlines
Charles Watts Charles Watts ... O.W. Schultz - Salesman, Atlas Suspender Co.


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


One of the Great Adventures of Our Time ! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Early in the film Lindbergh is disturbed in his hotel room bed by the song "Rio Rita" playing loudly on a radio or record player. Lindbergh was on the way to see the Broadway show "Rio Rita" when he learned that the weather might be good enough the next day for his flight to Paris. He took off the next morning. See more »


Lindbergh goes to St Louis to get financing for the Paris flight from his St Louis banker friends. The real Lindbergh was a Captain in the National Guard at the time of of the famous flight to Paris. However in the film a couple of the St Louis banker friends refer to Lindbergh as "Colonel Lindbergh". Lindbergh was promoted to Colonel by President Calvin Coolidge only after he returned from his famous flight to Paris. See more »


[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...
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Baby Face
Music by Harry Akst
Played when Lindbergh makes a phone call from Louie's Shack
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User Reviews

the little engine that could
21 May 2012 | by blanche-2See 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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Release Date:

20 April 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Spirit of St. Louis See more »


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)| 4-Track Stereo


Color (WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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