The Grand Illusion (1937)
This Vatican top 45 film explores the relationship of two aristocrats who wind up on opposite sides of the trenches during World War I. A pair of French aviators, the upper-class Capt. de Boeldieu (Pierre Fresnay) and the middle-class Lt. Marechal (Jean Gabin), are shot down on a reconnaissance mission and shipped off to a German prison camp run by the aristocratic Capt. Von Raffenstein (Eric Von Stroheim).
De Boeldieu and Von Raffenstein bond. But the prisoners have organized an escape, and this creates a deadly conflict between the French nobleman and his German counterpart. Writer-director Jean Renoir (The Rules of the Game) skillfully mixes comedy and tragedy with social commentary and suspense.
The moral choices made by his two protagonists show us the real meaning of honor, comradeship and self-sacrifice.
There are no heroes or villains, only a few brave souls trying to do the right thing against all odds.
The Spirit of St. Louis(1957)
Directed by the legendary Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard) concentrates primarily on the flight itself, sketching in only those aspects of the airman's character that relate directly to this achievement. In a series of flashbacks beginning as he waits for the takeoff, we see the young Lindbergh (James Stewart) purchase an old, dilapidated bi-plane.
Gradually, a greater ambition takes hold, and the pilot hustles up the funds to build a special plane and finance his history-making adventure. The filmmaker intelligently dramatizes the dangers of the flight itself. Lindbergh emerges as the kind of non-mercenary celebrity-hero almost impossible to imagine today.