Movie Review On A Cold War Milepost

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Photo by me actually and yes, I know this is the trainer version generations removed from the 1960 version

I can remember that week in 1960, when we lost a U2 over the Soviet Union. I was only 10, but remembered  our press releases  stating that the plane had strayed from a weather mission. I can remember a gloating Nikita Khrushchev a few days later  embarrassing the Eisenhower Administration by  proving that it was on an espionage mission.

What the movie Bridge Of Spies revealed to me 53 years later though was the fascinating story of the man who facilitated the trade 2 years later of Gary Powers and Rudolph Abel, the Soviet spy caught in New York.

One is always in danger of being a spoiler and revealing things the viewer would prefer to learn on his own by seeing the movie.

I’ll just say that the facilitator, James Donovan was an attorney working for an insurance company, and all of this is set against the backdrop of the Berlin Wall going up, and politics between the US, Soviet Union, and East Germany. He was an unlikely go-between, but a person both countries preferred for their own reasons.

The one thing that I wish director Steven Spielberg had elaborated on further was the history of the U2.

A book I enjoyed many years ago on the U2 (and other products of Lockheed’s  Skunk Works), was by Ben Rich, who succeeded the legendary Kelly Johnson.  He wrote not only of the U2s gestation period, but its missions over the USSR prior to the shoot down. A passage I will always remember is his description of pilots seeing MiG contrails 30,000 feet below them, trying to get high enough to shoot.

Far be it from me to tell Mr. Spielberg how to make a movie, but the movie left the impression that the U2 was shot down during its first time at bat. Then I suppose the U2’s history wasn’t germane to the plot of the movie, and a screenwriter has about 2 hours to tell the story.

It’s a fascinating movie for grownups, and well worth a view.

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