The Haunted Heaven: Chapter Thirty Seven: The Miracle of Human Courage
By Michael Moriarty
The Spirit of St. Louis!
Just finished seeing that film for the third time.
Why does it mean so much to me now?
My increasing awareness of the genius of Billy Wilder and, of course, the miracle of Jimmy Stewart.
As for films about the history of flight, I played Wilbur Wright in a television movie about the Wright Brothers entitled The Winds of Kitty Hawk. I now know a great deal about simulated flight in Hollywood. You never realize the entire effect of such Hollywood science until you see the film as the audience does.
What I felt in the theater at a premiere for The Winds of Kitty Hawk in Washington, D. C. was reinforced by seeing these glimpses of man's first transatlantic flight.
The world, indeed, was, as is said, "to become a much smaller place."
In a clip from my character's later flights, the special effects were needed to see Wilbur Wright fly around The Statue of Liberty. That was the moment, during a Washington D.C. film showing, when my tears of joy began to flow.
This Spanish montage of the flying sequences in The Winds of Kitty Hawk is an excellent, purely visual glimpse at the heart of this film, the mysterious secret which is the miracle of human flight.
The heroic capacity of Man to fly. And to eventually fly perhaps to anywhere in the entire Universe?!
However, the essence of human courage is what most thrills me here.
Any human commitment to the seemingly impossible is an act of courage and, well, there's no more detailed record of an historic act of courage than Jimmy Stewart's portrait in Billy Wilder's The Spirit of St. Louis.
Stewart's great copilot in the film, for my money at any rate, is the exquisite musical score by Franz Waxman.
Lindbergh is over Cape Cod … and …. well … to capture Jimmy Stewart's occasionally hesitant genius … seeing the beginning … of the end … of the American continent … from the air … and knowing … that the lion's share of this expedition … into the as yet unknown … uncharted future of flight … well … by gosh … by golly … that's the miracle of human courage.
That was about the only salvageable memory from my two years as a boarding school pre-teen at Cranbrook Preparatory School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The school's motto, its invocation to "Aim high!"
Here's a taste of what it was like to be on the ground, listening and waiting on the Eastern Seaboard of the American Continent, on the coasts of Ireland and France … all the way to Paris, the human race glued to their radios and newspapers to hear and read news of Lindbergh's flight and landing!
A most thrilling drama … until of course … we remember the later Lindbergh, the one who sympathized with Nazi Germany. Here is where a well-known American author, Phillip Roth, envisions an entirely different America than the one we inherited.
I reentered Hollywood's history of flying legends by portraying Governor Harold Hoffman in Mark Rydell's Crime of the Century. The kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby and the controversies surrounding that drama had been further enflamed by Lindbergh's increasingly well-known anti-Semitism and eventual pro-Nazi sentiments.
That the father of John F. Kennedy, Democrat President of the United States, was a major supporter of Lindbergh's isolationist policies is still a major embarrassment to the Democrats. However, as you can see from this paragraph's last link, Ford Motor Company's involvement with the Third Reich, along with many other wealthy American institutions such as the Rockefeller family, was Capitalism's shame.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Stewart serves as an American pilot in World War II. He flies many dangerous missions over Nazi Germany, receiving the distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters.
Which takes more courage?
Flying solo over the Atlantic for the first time? Or flying a bombing mission over Nazi Germany numerous times? That question doesn't really matter. Both demand courage.
Do you know who reminds me of Jimmy Stewart a bit?
His recent wins in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado are thrilling!
No, he doesn't have the typical appearance of a winner. He's like Jimmy Stewart.
Don't underestimate such men!
You do so at your own considerable loss.
If there was a long shot to become one of America's greatest stars, one of its greatest and most well-loved heroes, it was Jimmy Stewart.
Rick Santorum began his campaign as the major long-shot.
What is it that both Jimmy Stewart and Rick Santorum possess that most others have not had?
The invisible spark of God's blessing.
Despite appearances, there's something indomitable about both of them.
A Divine Destiny!
Here is my tribute to "ordinary-looking" people of American history. No, Marlon Brando was never "ordinary-looking".
However, Glenn Beck, Jimmy Stewart and Rick Santorum are in the "ordinary-looking" category. The one that President Abraham Lincoln said God "preferred".
To defend his statement, Lincoln said "That's why God made so many of them!"
So many ordinary-looking Americans.
"Yup," as Jimmy Stewart might agree.
When such ordinary-looking people become movie stars like Jimmy Stewart or long-shot Presidential candidates such as Rick Santorum, there's a divine destiny at work which is often that visible. Yet it make us all know for certain the actual Presence of Divinity in our so-called everyday lives and in our own, everyday human soul.
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.