A Movie A Day: Quint on THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS (1957)
Which way is Ireland? WHICH WAY IS IRELAND?!? Harry Comments!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.] Mory Jimmy Stewart, this time catching a flick following yesterday’s Hitchcock classic THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. Today is Stewart as Lucky Lindy in THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS. I know I linked to the individual title up above, but if you’re going to dig into the list and stick with me on some future Jimmy Stewarts and add them to your collection you can either drop $17.99 on THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS above or $22.99 and get the entire Jimmy Stewart Box Set. We’ve already covered FIRECREEK and THE CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB… I’ve seen FBI STORY, but THE NAKED SPUR and THE STRATTON STORY are both future titles of the list. I’m going to apologize in advance for this one. The movie was great, enthralling and wonderful, but this will be a bit of a half-assed AMAD installment. I’m due up in a few hours to pack and finally get back home. The last week has been filled with meetings, both for personal projects and interesting AICN stuff and I jumped right into this hectic week from the even more insane week of Comic-Con. So, I’ve been averaging about 4-5 hours of sleep a night and it’s catching up with me. Unfortunately for THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS it’s hitting me hard right now. The flick is wonderful, light and entertaining and not at all the stagy drama I had in my brain for whatever reason. James Stewart plays Charles Lindberg and we get the story of Lucky Lindy’s famous cross-Atlantic flight. Stewart is, as always, magnificent and immediately likable. If there’s a cold-hearted frog-faced sumbitch out there who doesn’t like Jimmy Stewart… well, I’d like to meet him because like leprechauns and genies, he shouldn’t exist. Maybe, he’ll give me a few wishes? Anyway, the flick very much feels like a precursor to Martin Scorsese’s THE AVIATOR, but without the insanity and brooding feeling of Marty’s movie. Both Hughes and Lindberg share the passion and almost inhuman drive to take risks for the sake of living. This is Stewart’s movie through and through, but there are some really good character roles, including nice, but brief, turns from Patricia Smith as a girl who gives Lindberg a lucky mirror at a crucial moment, and the late, great Murray Hamilton (Mayor Vaughn FTW) as a fellow stunt flier that we meet during “present day” Lindberg’s constant flashbacks to his past. How else you going to fill 2 hours and 15 minutes where the main meat of the story is a single man sitting in a signle bread. Final Thoughts: I hate to rush this one because it’s an amazing film from director Billy Wilder that feels just as light-hearted, fun and touching today as it must have upon its initial release. Stewart’s co-star in the film is a fucking fly. No shit. I expected it to get its own credit. The schedule for the next 7 days is: Saturday, August 2nd: VON RYAN’S EXPRESS (1965) Sunday, August 3rd: CAN-CAN (1960) Monday, August 4th: DESPERATE CHARACTERS (1971) Tuesday, August 5th: THE POSSESSION OF JOEL DELANEY (1972) Wednesday, August 6th: QUACKSER FORTUNE HAS A COUSIN IN THE BRONX (1970) Thursday, August 7th: START THE REVOLUTION WITHOUT ME (1970) Friday, August 8th: >Hell Is A City (1960) Tomorrow we jump to VON RYAN’S EXPRESS thanks to writer Wendell Mayes. I promise it’ll be more indepth, but I’m literally falling asleep at my keyboard like Lucky Lindy was falling asleep at his controls during the big flight. See you folks tomorrow! -Quint firstname.lastname@example.org
June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
Hey folks, Harry here - I can't resist chatting a bit about THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS - and will not allow, Quint's tiredness, to short you folks a good commentary on this GREAT Billy Wilder movie. What is it that makes THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS and the story of Charles Lindbergh as played by Jimmy Stewart such an incredible filmic endeavor? To a large degree, it is that Billy Wilder recognized the insane passion and vision that these earlier flyers had for the mad intention of man to occupy the domain of the birds. There was such a drive in pioneers to wrestle the impossible down to the ground. To beat the tarnation out of it and to school it. Watching lanky Jimmy Stewart as Lindbergh is a classic. There's something impossible about Jimmy Stewart. He looks ill prepared for the land... he plays Chuck as a guy that prefers the air - there's less trouble up there. It's a place where he can talk to himself and not be judged by a passerby. Where he's not going to trip, where he can sit back, relax and just fly. And what an amazing thing that was. At the time that Lindbergh was doing all this - there weren't that many flyers out there. It wasn't safe, aviators were believed to be insane folks. They had seized upon a manifest destiny though. They knew that through innovation and challenges that they would domesticate the air as man had the land and the sea... and as we continually attempt and WILL live amongst the stars. This is that sort of passion, that sort of insanity. The insanity of living in a world that is wrong and knowing you're right. KNOWING the impossible is just a engineering solution waiting to be undertook. The film is bliss. Unlike Quint I am not just discovering the film. I've had it on videotape since 1978 when we recorded off of WGN in the pre-HBO days of Cable Television (at least in Austin). I fell in love with Franz Waxman's soaring score.... that used violins as motors to power the Spirit Of St Louis on its fateful flight. His score is the soul of the film, it is the dream of flight, the emergence of passion and the miracles that save him. The cinematography from the second that Lindbergh takes off for Paris - to his historic landing is my absolute favorite aerial cinematography ever. It isn't about daring divebombings, no loops, just the soaring of a transatlantic flight. Something I've done a good 80 times in my life now. And the first 40 or so transatlantic flights - I actually listened on the flights to Waxman's score. It's magical to look out a window - above the quilted moonlit clouds and hear Franz reminding you of that soaring brushed metal beauty that first made this flight. That dared the world to follow. And EVERY SINGLE TIME I cross over Ireland - I hear my internal Jimmy Stewart scream out, "HELLLLOOOOOO DOWN THERE!!!!! HELLLLOOOOOO!!!!" THE SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS is about breaking down the impossible into the inevitable - and the dream of a man to do it first so that the world could see that it could be done. It's what we need more of today. We need more derring-do. We need men of the sort that Lindbergh was. To reinvent a better tomorrow than the today we have. That's the Spirit of St Louis. It is what I see when I set eyes upon the plane in the Smithsonian and the dream that this movie conjures. Apologies to Quint for taking up space on this magnificent column - but I could not hold my tongue at a half-written deadline driven piece. Billy, Jimmy and Lindy -- and this movie deserve better.
Quint here again... "How else you going to fill 2 hours and 15 minutes where the main meat of the story is a single man sitting in a signle bread." WTF? I told you I was tired. That should have been more like "How else are you going to fill 2 hours and 15 minutes where the main meat of the story is a single man sitting in a cockpit on a 40 hour long flight." I'm in Houston on my layover back to Austin and figured I'd say thanks to Harry for adding more substance to this particular entry. The movie is terrific and worth more than the tired ramblings I gave it. I'll have Von Ryan's Express spinning right when I get back home, so look for a more lucid AMAD later tonight.
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Aug. 2, 2008, 4:32 a.m. CST
Aug. 2, 2008, 6:24 a.m. CST
I know you probably feel this was halfassed but dude you've done how many days now, I lose count, I think most of us expectedthis to go the way of One Thing I love Today or something where it would fade away pop up once or twice and fade away, glad you kept it up even during the heavy comiccon week and now your own personal heavy week, good work, keep it up<P>As for Spirit of St. Louis, yeah Stewart was too old, it has a bunch of filler and it's still an amazing movie, can't go wrong
Aug. 2, 2008, 7:20 a.m. CST
I used to really like the history of aviation when I was younger and even watched this movie long before I had the attention span for it. I was disappointed to learn that Lindberg was an unapologetic anti-Semite. It's a shame when a supposed American hero turns out to be just an everyday asshole.
Aug. 2, 2008, 9:31 a.m. CST
Really?! Man, you do need some catching up to do.
Aug. 2, 2008, 9:56 a.m. CST
by Dave Bowman
Whenever Lindy tries to call to someone from his plane, he emits this dire, high-pitched wail that goes on and on. The poor people on the ground must have thought a Nazgul was after them.
Aug. 2, 2008, 10:03 a.m. CST
There were a couple of speeches that came to light fairly recently that depicted what a racist piece of offal he was.
Aug. 2, 2008, 10:58 a.m. CST
by Napoleon Park
Now I like writers who put their personalities and a little autobiography into their writing.<p>On the other hand, to cite an irrelevant example, during the final year or so of james Dean Smith's brilliant failed comic Boris the Bear, his text pieces were all these one note rants on how he wans't making enough money on the comic to print t-shirts, buy ads, or, eventually, even keep publishing the book. Never heard from him again and a great talent was lost, but that's not the point.<p>AMAD is a great series - I read it ever day - or sometimes catch up on two or three at once, but never miss it either way. If you're under the weather, strapped for time, have a headache, whatever. Just give us what you got. Even if it's a couple paragraphs dashed off.<p>I hope this message isn't too contradictory. Autobio is good. Tell us about how you related to the movie, how it fit into your life, how it affected you personally and why. fine. But writing about the actual process of writing the reviews... a bit less interesting. We get it, it's a huge commitment and something of an occasion ordeal to keep up with. I worked in a comics shop for eight years and even your dream job gets to be a bit of a bore eventually.<p>Even stuff like "this movie derserves a more in depth review but I'm falling asleep" is okay... just not day after day, okay? I hope that was diplomatic enough and taken in the spirit of constructive criticism it was meant as.
Aug. 2, 2008, 11:17 a.m. CST
a real live american nazi, and to keep him a hero, they covered up the fact that he loved hitler and everything he stood for...and they also put a man to death for a kidnapping he did not commit...bet the fucker did it himself...this movie was great, but lindberg was scum
Aug. 2, 2008, 12:06 p.m. CST
And he was able look past any of Lindbergh's political leanings to make a movie about him because he did something none of you guys would have the stones to do.
Aug. 2, 2008, 1:41 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
Carbine Williams. It's about a guy sent to prison after allegedy shooting a government agent when moonshing operating came under attack. I don't think they did ballistics back then. Anyway, guns are a hobby of his, and he ends up making a gun in prison not to escape, but just for ha has. When the warden finds out he's actually given permission to continue. He ends up making a weapon used by the US military, and is eventually paroled. I'm looking forward to the Von Ryan's Express review. I liked that movie even though I don't like Sinatra.
Aug. 2, 2008, 1:42 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
Michael Bay's things that go boom. Keep up AMAD Quint, but take it easy on yourself.
Aug. 2, 2008, 3:53 p.m. CST
Man, I loved that movie when I was a kid. The kinda war movie that seemed to be ron perpetual Sunday afternoon showings in the UK. Not seen it for a loooong time. And SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS is great straightforward hero-worship cinema, from a time when people were allowed to have heroes amd ideals.
Aug. 2, 2008, 6:20 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
comes in contact with the allspark and becomes the new Megatron.
Aug. 2, 2008, 10:57 p.m. CST
It's "Lindbergh" who flew the Spirit Of St. Louis...Charles LindBERG was the enterprising Brooklyn Deli proprietor who invented the Everything Bagel. What else could he do? Mrs. Lepkowitz kept holding up the line trying to make up her mind between poppy and sesame seeds.<p> You know it's true 'cause you read it on the internet!
Aug. 2, 2008, 11:27 p.m. CST
HeadGeek, you may not be able to hold your tongue at a half-written deadline driven piece, but some of us have held our breaths for scattershot "regular" columns that never materialized from other contributors here. Good on Quint for having posted, period. "Harry's DVD Picks" could take note.
Aug. 2, 2008, 11:41 p.m. CST
what has that got to do with the fact that lindberg was a fucking nazi...not an isolationist...he was a fucking member of the bund...he was a fucking traitor to our nation...the french shoulda shot his ass down
Aug. 2, 2008, 11:43 p.m. CST
not lindberg...ford was a nazi too...which is why i will never drive one
Aug. 3, 2008, 12:50 a.m. CST
by My friends call me Killjoy
Should be in a black box, and not within the article. I love the passion on the page, but it doesn't belong in Quint's AMAD, it belongs down here with the rest of us who respond to his opinions. We value your views, Big Guy, but if I were Quint, I'd be a bit put off.
Aug. 3, 2008, 12:51 a.m. CST
by My friends call me Killjoy
Congrats, man! You seem like one of the good guys. Best of luck with the flick.
Aug. 3, 2008, 2:15 a.m. CST
I love this picture. And you know what? It's a fantasy. It's not a document of the life of Lindbergh. It's a movie movie! Wilder crafts wonderful nuanced characters and moments but the idea that this in any way represents the real man is absurd. This is a movie that I return to again and again. I love the world of it. I agree with Harry about the magic of early aviation as portrayed in the movie. I'm a sucker for it. I'm a huge Stewart fan. I'm a huge Wilder fan. Though he's not usually thought of as a visual director, the Roosevelt Field lift off sequence is filled with suspense and elation. Every shot is perfectly chosen. It gives Spielberg in his prime a run for his money. The ECU of Stewart's eyes is hardcore. It's great moviemaking but you can't conflate movies with real life. It's all fake! Gabriel Hardman
Aug. 3, 2008, 2:40 a.m. CST
Aug. 3, 2008, 2:42 a.m. CST
Aug. 3, 2008, 9:15 a.m. CST
Start your own fuckin column.
Aug. 3, 2008, 10:58 a.m. CST
No need to insult Wilder. Now HE is a true American hero. An immigrant who fled his country for the US, became a citizen, and subsequently revolutionized his industry, making movies and Hollywood (and noir and comedy genres) infinitely better.
Aug. 3, 2008, 11:07 a.m. CST
I agree with your point to a point. I hated "The Patriot" for the very reasons you bring up. <p> Do you think you are ever allowed to have a biopic stand for something greater than the man or woman? For an act to be a symbol for a larger story? <p> It's an interesting problem, and something writers have always struggled with. Now, white-washing a Nazi sympathizer is more clear cut as offensive, obviously. But is there a point where you can just tell a story without delving into facts that are irrelevant to the story -- which is the trans-Atlantic flight and the bravery it took to fly it?
Aug. 3, 2008, 11:10 a.m. CST
"Amadeus" - great movie. Historically inaccurate. Should it be burned in effigy as propaganda and lies?
Aug. 3, 2008, 11:26 a.m. CST
I've never been one for conspiracy theories, and the idea that an innocent man was executed for the Lindbergh kidnapping is definitely up there. Yes, media involvement made the case a mess (hell, reporters posed as connected criminals offering to serve as intermediaries for Lindbergh, and subsequently got their hands on and published the ransom notes... including the identifying marks that were supposed to allow Lindbergh to tell a real kidnapper's note from a fake.) There are conflicting eyewitness reports about most anything that you can question... Was Bruno Hauptmann at work or not the days in question?... that kind of thing. But all of the hard evidence points to him, and still does upon forensic reexamination today. The homemade ladder found under the child's bedroom window was made from the wood of Hauptmann's attic floorboards. He had $15,000 of the traceable ransom money hidden under his garage, and was found after passing some to a gas station attendant, who thought Hauptmann was acting suspiciously (the attendant suspected the money might be counterfeit) and so wrote his license plate number on the bill. A ton of handwriting experts, then and now, say he's the one who wrote the ransom notes. He had the address of Lindbergh's contact for the ransom delivery written in his closet (which he admitted to writing down himself because he was following the case.) And he had a history that included burglarizing homes and armed robbery. Oh, sure... if he were rich enough he could have gotten a lawyer to point to all of the interference from the press and pressure on the police and created some reasonable doubt just like O.J. did... but without a *very* sympathetic jury, he would still have been convicted today.
Aug. 3, 2008, 12:53 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
Plus Black Hole was top a couple weeks ago. This just goes to show we love the classics along with the Bayified movies of today
Aug. 3, 2008, 12:54 p.m. CST
This movie is an inspiration to those who push the borders of " what's possible". People like Roz Savage, trying to cross the Pacific. Also, for more on classic flicks, check out my brother's blog WWW.CINEMAFIST.COM. Thanks!
Aug. 3, 2008, 12:54 p.m. CST
This is one of those great, old-time HOllywwod biographical films that basically invents the character of a real person in order to make it a good movie.<p> But it works...and is yet another triumph for Billy Wilder. Jimmy Stewart is great as always, playing the fictional Charles Lindbergh, as opposed to the Aryan Moron "REAL" Lindbergh, who like many people, bought into the whole idea of Eugenics and that there were higher and lower physical classes of people. From what I hear, his little trip accross the atlantic was supposed to be a superiority trip, to be used all around the world to show what a WASP can do, as opposed to what he no doubt considered "mongrel" races.<p> Who knows what kind of man he might have been in a world with Genetics, Ancestral Mapping and the Human Genome project...he might have understood that all people are descended from a common ancestor and that that origin point was most probably Africa...or it is possible he would have remained as in-the-dark as a lot of people today, using their hate and ignorance as shields so they don't have to think for themselves or change their traditions of violence and fear.<p> Still, it is a great movie.
Aug. 3, 2008, 1:15 p.m. CST
Well said Bones. More articulately than I could have put it. M-O-M: I'm not disagreeing with you about the real Lindbergh. He most likely was a nazi fuck head. That just doesn't change the fact that "Spirit" is a very entertaining, well crafted movie. I'm not going to pretend that its not just because real man it's based on had disgusting personal views. - Gabriel Hardman
Aug. 4, 2008, 1:35 a.m. CST
aren't you, M-of-M? Lindbergh was given a pass, huh? As a response to Lindbergh's isolationist activism, Roosevelt had the FBI investigate his personal life. When Lindbergh tried to reactivate his commission in the Army Air Force after Pearl Harbor, the Roosevelt administration blocked him. He had to shop himself around to the aircraft companies as a civilian consultant, and was eventually able to take part in combat missions in the Pacific. It seems to me that risking one's life in the fight against the Axis is a pretty good indicator of where one's loyalties lie, and is a pretty good argument against charges of "treason." And as far as poor innocent Oppenheimer being victimized for being "sympathetic to socialist ideals," he was probably a member of the Communist Party USA for a while in the 30's; at least, he attended cell meetings where every other participant was a party member. If so, he was part of an organization that was taking orders from Stalin; Oppenheimer, and every other CPUSA member, was more closely aligned with that particular murderous totalitarian ideology than Lindbergh was with Nazism. Who's the hypocrite, M-of-M?
Aug. 4, 2008, 6:36 a.m. CST
huh? Just kidding. you know, you're all right. Everyone, let give it up for that guy.
Aug. 4, 2008, 10:35 a.m. CST
oh and In Ernest Goes to Camp, he confessed to stealing the Lindburgh baby. Case Closed.
Aug. 4, 2008, 4:14 p.m. CST
then I shot J.R
Aug. 4, 2008, 7:25 p.m. CST
Nazism? Where I praised Lindbergh for joining the fight against the Axis, perhaps? Or perhaps you mean Nazi in the good old '40s Popular Front sense of "not a Communist." If so, I'm guilty as charged. As for persecuting "socialists or syndicalists," plenty of socialists, union types, and other members of the non-Communist left cheerfully and of their own free will testified AGAINST the Communists during the House UnAmerican Activities Committee hearings. They remembered how the Communists had tried to subvert their organizations, and knew what we were up against better than most. The Communists called Roosevelt a warmongering fascist all during the period of the Nazi-Soviet Pact - just as they were told to do. They only changed their tune when their country was attacked - and I'm talking about Operation Barbarossa, not Pearl Harbor. Compared to this, how exactly was Lindbergh a traitor? Let me repeat this, since you clearly have reading comprehension problems: after his country (the United States, in his case) was attacked, Lindbergh made every effort to join the war effort and finally succeeded in serving on active duty. Before the war, there's no evidence he did Hitler's bidding in the same way that CPUSA members, as a matter of course, did Stalin's. So once again: you would convict Lindbergh of treason...why? As usual, freedom in a radical leftie's version of a "true democracy" would not extend to people you disagree with. Whether or not I've shown my true colors, you've shown yours, "mate." Say hello to Stalin and Mao when you see them.
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