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Spirit of St. Louis, The (Warner 1957, James Stewart, Murray Hamilton)

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This straightforward biopic with Stewart playing aviator Charles Lindbergh may be the least typical film of director Billy Wilder’s career. Concentrating on his famous 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic, the film presents in flashbacks moments from Lindbergh’s early career as a barnstormer and mail pilot.

James Stewart, who at 49 was playing a man half that age, is genuine and engaging in what is essentially a one-person film. Contemporary audiences found this curiously unappealing and it became a notorious money-loser; it has grown in estimation over the years, perhaps along with Wilder’s renown. Notable for an outstanding score by Franz Waxman.

Charles Lindbergh took off on May 20, 1927, which coincidentally was also James Stewart’s nineteenth birthday.

Academy Award Nomination for Best Special Effects.

production details
USA | Warner Bros. 138 minutes 135 minutes | 1957

Director: Billy Wilder
Producer: Leland Hayward
Directors of Photography: Robert Burks, Peverell Marley
Editing: Arthur Schmidt
Music:Franz Waxman
Script: Charles Lederer, Wendell Mayes
Set Designer: William L. Kuehl
Special Effects: H.F. Koenekamp
Art Direction: Art Loell

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

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