Home History Why Did Billy Wilder Call ‘The Spirit of St. Louis’ His Worst Movie?

Why Did Billy Wilder Call ‘The Spirit of St. Louis’ His Worst Movie?

by Enochadmin

Designers Charles and Ray Eames are recognized for the modernistic chair that bears their names, however the married couple have been additionally shut buddies with movie director Billy Wilder (whose credit included Some Like It Sizzling and Sundown Boulevard). In 1955 Wilder requested Charles to hitch him as a photographic advisor on his newest challenge. The movie was The Spirit of St. Louis, Wilder’s adaptation of Charles Lindbergh’s 1953 ebook about his life and his well-known solo hop throughout the Atlantic in 1927. Eames shot candid images of the movie’s manufacturing, photographs which have hardly ever if ever been printed till now. 

The Jewish Wilder was desperate to tackle the movie, regardless of Lindbergh’s troubling isolationist and arguably anti-Semitic politics within the years main as much as World Struggle II. When Wilder and Lindbergh flew to Washington to see the unique Spirit on the Smithsonian Establishment previous to filming, their flight hit turbulence. The puckish Wilder leaned over to Lindbergh and mentioned, “Mr. Lindbergh, would it not not be embarrassing if we crashed and the headlines mentioned, ‘Lone Eagle and Jewish Good friend in Aircraft Crash’?” Much more troubling for Wilder than Lindbergh’s previous was the director’s incapacity to penetrate the aviator’s character. “There was a wall there,” he mentioned.

To play the Lone Eagle, Wilder employed James Stewart. It was good casting—or it could have been, had Wilder made the movie 20 years earlier. The actual Lindbergh was solely 25 when he made his flight; initially of the shoot Stewart was greater than 20 years older.

The manufacturing was troubled and Wilder misplaced curiosity earlier than capturing resulted in 1957, with director John Sturges stepping in for an uncredited function capturing some ultimate scenes. The movie failed on the field workplace when launched later that yr and Wilder himself remained upset by what he as soon as known as his worst movie. Nonetheless, director Cameron Crowe, who printed a ebook of his conversations with Wilder, felt in another way. “Wilder’s a lot underrated shade portrait of Lindbergh’s well-known journey is a luxurious biopic,” he wrote. Charles Eames’ images present an interesting look behind the scenes. 

Images ©Eames Workplace, LLC. All rights reserved

this text first appeared in AVIATION HISTORY journal

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