Going to the Movies – going to a premiere. A Hollywood ritual, much more so in 1957 than it is sixty-one years later. This one is set at The Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. The premiere of Billy Wilder’s biopic of Charles Lindbergh, the first person to pilot a plane across the atlantic and land safely in France.
The Spirit of St. Louis is a 1957 aviation biography film in CinemaScope and WarnerColor from Warner Bros., directed by Billy Wilder, produced by Leland Hayward, that stars James Stewart as Charles Lindbergh. The screenplay was adapted by Charles Lederer, Wendell Mayes, and Billy Wilder from Lindbergh’s 1953 autobiographical account of his historic flight, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1954.
Along with reminiscences of his early days in aviation, the film’s storyline largely focuses on Lindbergh’s lengthy preparation for and finally his history-making transatlantic flight in the purpose-built Spirit of St. Louis high-wing monoplane. His take off begins at Roosevelt Field and ends 33-hours later on May 21, 1927 when he lands safely at Le Bourget Field in Paris. The film ends with actual newsreel footage of Lindbergh’s ticker tape parade in New York.
This broadcast, made for the Australian radio audience grabs a virtual who’s who in Hollywood at the time. Granted, most names won’t sound familiar to many, which is why we have Google, but these stars were notable at the time and most are legendary in the history of Hollywood. A few names from TV pop up, but they are few and far between – TV was cutting heavily into the movie going audience and even though most studios were actively producing TV series, the old ritual of going to the movies a few times a week was being replaced by sitting at home watching TV.
Listening to this 15 minute radio special offers an opportunity to hear voices you may not be familiar with as well as a historic snapshot of a moment, sixty-one years ago.