Professional photographer turned budding filmmaker Stanley Kubrick (“Day of the Fight”) follows up his self-financed directorial debut with a rather uninspired documentary commission from RKO which the filmmaker himself would later describe as silly.
The film supposedly documents two ordinary days in the life of Catholic priest Father Fred Stadtmuller as he pilots his plane between his 11 mission churches spread out over a 4,000 square mile area of Harding county in north-eastern New Mexico but the whole thing feels staged .
Father Stadtmuller makes a surprisingly insipid presence behind the controls of the Spirit of St. Jospeh as we follow him from the solemn funeral of a ranch hand to evening devotions to pastoral duties to canary breeding to an emergency flight all to the dulcet tones of news reader Bob Hite.
The future filmmaking legend seems constricted by the news reel format and although he manages to build some convention defying atmosphere there is little of the visual or structural flourish that marked out his previous “day in the life of…” documentary as being from an emerging talent.
“There’s no brass band here, no cheering crowds, no newspapermen clamouring for a headline…”