John Glenn & the Space Race / Jesus in the Movies

John Glenn & the Space Race / Jesus in the Movies

Date

HostGeorge Noory

GuestsJeff Shesol, Phil Hall

Former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, Jeff Shesol is a founding partner of West Wing Writers. In the first half, he discussed the history of the space race and specifically John Glenn's flight on Friendship 7, which was a dangerous mission, a measure of American strength and resolve, and an entry into an entirely new theater of potential warfare. America's competition with the Soviets moved into high gear after the orbital flight of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who became the first man in space in 1961. In February of 1962, Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. He was aboard the Friendship 7 spacecraft, part of NASA's Project Mercury. Glenn, who'd been a decorated combat pilot in WWII and Korea, had some conflicts with some of the other Mercury astronauts, Shesol recounted. He was more media-savvy than the rest of them and had higher wattage as a celebrity.

Everyone thought Glenn was a shoo-in to make America's first manned space flight--but NASA's brass instead chose Alan Shepard, Glenn's rival. He reacted bitterly, Shesol noted, and eventually left NASA and entered politics, serving as a US Senator from Ohio from 1974 to 1999. During his fourth Senate term, Glenn returned to space at age 77, as part of a research project on the aging process, and passed all the physical tests that the younger astronauts underwent. One of the intriguing items Shesol discovered when looking through the Glenn archives at Ohio State was a script for a recording he made for his children to be played for them in the event of a deadly mishap in space. It begins, "If you hear this, I've been killed," and goes into his faith and views of the afterlife.

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Host of the award-winning SoundCloud podcast, The Online Movie Show, Phil Hall is an expert in cinema history and the Patterson Gimlin Bigfoot footage. He spoke about his newest work on how filmmakers from across the years and around the world have sought to portray the story of Jesus, from beloved classics to bizarre curios. One of the first American films on the subject dates back to 1898, "The Passion Play of Oberammergau," which was falsely promoted as filmed in Germany. Another early film was D.W. Griffith's silent epic "Intolerance" (1916), which depicted Jesus' life as one of its four stories, but ended up cut in length due to controversies, he recalled.

Hall was not a fan of Scorsese's "Last Temptation of Christ" (1988), which he said, "played like Mean Streets in ancient Judea." However, many viewers didn't realize that this film was adapted from a controversial novel rather than the Gospels. "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (1965) was heavily researched by its director George Stevens, who spent $3M before shooting even started, he detailed. Hall said Max von Sydow's performance as Jesus in that film was his favorite depiction out of all the movies he'd seen. Tall and angular, "there was a sense of otherworldliness about him that other actors were never really able to capture." Hall also offered commentary on the latest developments in the entertainment industry.

News segment guests: Mish Shedlock, Howard Bloom

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