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The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama | 15 December 1965 (USA)
After a plane crash in the Sahara, one of the survivors says he's an airplane designer and they can make a flyable plane from the wreckage.

Director:

Robert Aldrich

Writers:

Lukas Heller (screenplay), Trevor Dudley Smith (novel) (as Elleston Trevor)
Reviews
Popularity
4,731 ( 723)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
James Stewart ... Frank Towns
Richard Attenborough ... Lew Moran
Peter Finch ... Captain Harris
Hardy Krüger ... Heinrich Dorfmann (as Hardy Kruger)
Ernest Borgnine ... Trucker Cobb
Ian Bannen ... Crow
Ronald Fraser ... Sergeant Watson
Christian Marquand ... Dr. Renaud
Dan Duryea ... Standish
George Kennedy ... Bellamy
Gabriele Tinti ... Gabriele
Alex Montoya Alex Montoya ... Carlos
Peter Bravos Peter Bravos ... Tasso
William Aldrich William Aldrich ... Bill
Barrie Chase ... Farida
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Storyline

A cargo plane goes down in a sandstorm in the Sahara with less than a dozen men on board. One of the passengers is an airplane designer who comes up with the idea of ripping off the undamaged wing and using it as the basis for an airplane they will build to escape before their food and water run out. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Its excitement is headed straight for you! See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian | Arabic

Release Date:

15 December 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Flug des Phoenix See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,355,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the Italian version, the song "Senza fine" is the original one, sung by Ornella Vanoni. See more »

Goofs

When Dorfman is describing the flights made by pioneers Henson and Stringfellow, he states that both men made a rubber powered model airplane that flew for 60 meters or so. Messrs Henson and Stringfellow never built a rubber powered model. Stringfellow did build a model airplane, but not powered with rubber. It had a steam engine and it was the first airplane ever to fly, although it was a model. Henson designed an "Aerial Steam Carriage" in 1842-43, but it was never built or flown. The rubber powered model was made by a Frenchman called Alphonse Pénaud (1850-1880) in the year 1871. It flew for 40 meters in 11 seconds approximately. See more »

Quotes

Frank Towns: I've lost five men, Lew. Gabriel in there, he's on the way, that'll be six. Are you asking me to try to kill the rest of them trying to get a deathtrap off the ground. I don't know... I don't know, Lew. It won't work... it just can't work.
Lew Moran: All right, then, it can't. Maybe it can't and we'll all be killed. But if there's just one chance in a thousand that he's got something, boy, I'd rather take it than just sit around here waiting to die.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Closing credits epilogue: IT SHOULD BE REMEMBERED...

THAT PAUL MANTZ, A FINE MAN AND A BRILLIANT FLYER GAVE HIS LIFE IN THE MAKING OF THIS FILM... See more »

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Best Movies Set in the Desert (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

The Phoenix Love Theme
Senza Fine"
Sung by Connie Francis
Music & Italian Lyrics by Gino Paoli
English Lyrics by Alec Wilder
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An enjoyable performance driven spin on the disaster movie genre
3 August 2003 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Returning from an oil field with a plane full of crew etc going on leave, Frank Towns' plane enters a sandstorm over the Sahara desert and crashes. As various attempts at rescue or escape fail one passenger, Dorfmann suggests his plan to rebuild the plane as a smaller version and attempt to fly out, leaving the bulk of the damage craft behind. However tensions mount as personalities conflict as all the men face death.

I had only ever heard of this film before I finally got round to watching it last night on television. I was aware of the basic plot and had assumed it was more recent that it actually was. I watched it assuming that it was made in the early seventies when the disaster movie genre was just starting to take off (sorry – accidental pun). However this was made prior to this and is probably a much better film for it – in the seventies the film would have required more spectacle, so the crash would have been much more dramatic and horrifying. As it is now, the film is more about the men under stress than it is about anything else.

This is brought out well and the majority of the drama and tension within the film is as much from these conflicts as it is from the pressure to escape the desert. The film is longer than I expected it to be but it pretty much sustains itself for that length. The main reason for the film working so well is the cast, which has it's fair share of famous faces but also has more than it's fair share of good performances.

Stewart is really strong in the lead (although, in fairness, there is no one main character) and becomes increasingly grizzled as the film goes on. His character is not without flaws even if he does come out of this well. Attenborough is also good but is less evident in the film than some of the others. Krüger has the least pleasant of the roles given that he plays a tough German. He manages to make the character likeable while still going about his task with a strict organised German air to him. Finch is good and is well supported by Fraser. The support cast includes strong performances from Borgnine, Bannen, Kennedy, Marquand and the director's own son is thrown in for colour!

Overall this is much better than the disaster-type movie I had expected as it is a film where the plane crash isn't a blaze of spectacle and the death scenes aren't played out for full effect. Instead it is a tension adventure story that is driven by some great performances by a cast full of well known actors.


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