Daring Polish Aviator—Times Two!

Synchronicity in the creative arts is pretty weird. The independent invention of very similar things. Charles Fort, one of the masters of all things weird, even had a term for it: "steam engine time." Fort's notion was that when an era was ripe, it called forth certain creations multiple times, without coordination among mere humans.

I was reminded of this recently in a small way while watching the 1942 film TO BE OR NOT TO BE. In this film, Robert Stack plays a dashing Polish aviator named Lieut. Stanislav Sobinski.

What other fictional dashing Polish aviator premiered right at this time? None other than Blackhawk, who debuted in August of 1941.

Could it be a simple case of the Blackhawk comic influencing the scripter of To Be or Not to Be? Unlikely, given the short span between the debut of Blackhawk and the release of the Robert Stack film, which had to be in production for some time prior.

It's more likely that the plight of Poland under Hitler's invasion called forth the notion of a national hero. But why aviator? Just the romance of aerial combat, I suppose.

Here're pictures of Blackhawk and Stack in his role (leftmost figure, below) to compare. Stack is out of uniform in this shot, but when he's wearing his flying outfit, the resemblance to Blackhawk is uncanny.

     Posted By: Paul - Sun Jul 13, 2008
     Category: Art | Comics | Celebrities | Decades | 1940s | Forteana | History | Historical Figure | Hollywood | Inventions | Movies | Synchronicity

It's a shame DC is not currently doing anything with the property.
Posted by Paul on 07/13/08 at 12:10 PM
For a few minutes after debuting, this post claimed the "rightmost" figure in the movie still was Stack. Obviously, it's the LEFTMOST figure, and I've altered the post to say so.

Dyslexics of the world, untie!
Posted by Paul on 07/13/08 at 12:15 PM
I watched TO BE OR NOT TO BE just the other night, and although I didn't download this still directly from disc myself, but rather found it online, I'm 99.9% certain the leftmost figure is Stack. The scene involves him going to his superiors to inform them of a traitor.

Here's the site where I found the shot:


Let me know what you think!
Posted by Paul on 07/13/08 at 12:55 PM
Furious D--this sounds like a gambit straight out of Thomas Pynchon's paranoid WWII masterpiece, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW! Hence, I believe it!
Posted by Paul on 07/13/08 at 03:22 PM
Pynchonoid--similar great minds, trained in the same school!
Posted by Paul on 07/13/08 at 03:25 PM
The aviator bit may not be as much a coincidence as you may think as at that time the most lethal aircraft in the sky was the Polish PLZ 24. This thing could fly rings around anything the Germans had. So if the Polish were to have "heroes" it would be a safe bet that they'd be in the sky.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 07/13/08 at 11:38 PM
Oh, yeah, "Chop-chop" has come in for his share of flack over the decades!
Posted by Paul on 07/14/08 at 10:12 AM
Ramraider--that information totally unknown to me. Thanks!
Posted by Paul on 07/14/08 at 10:14 AM
Frederick--I finally found a little clip of TO BE OR NOT TO BE, and you can see Stack at a couple of points--freeze the clip at the seven-second mark--allowing us to decide if that still is really him or not.

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Posted by Paul on 07/14/08 at 12:40 PM
Frederick--that embedding of the clip didn't work. Here's the URL:

Posted by Paul on 07/14/08 at 12:44 PM
Frederick--oh, well, I was misled, perhaps, though I sure don't recall any other interlocutor in that scene, and am unsure why that site would run a still that did not have one of the main stars of the film present.
Posted by Paul on 07/15/08 at 11:06 AM
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