The Flight of the Phoenix

Film, Action and adventure

Time Out says

Basically a disaster movie about survival problems when a cargo-passenger plane crashes miles from anywhere in the Arabian desert. The pilot (Stewart), conscious of his responsibility for the lives of all concerned, suffers doubts; his navigator (Attenborough), a man accustomed to relying on the bottle for his courage, starts shaping up; a regular army officer (Finch) courts suicide because he blindly insists on playing by regulations...So far, so conventional, although beautifully characterised and directed by Aldrich with a grip that keeps tension high and heroics low. What takes the film right out of the rut is the gradual emergence of the group's saviour: a youthful German designer of model aircraft (Kruger), who develops a strain of pure Nazi fanaticism in his determination to prove that he can build a plane which will fly from bits of the wreck. He does it, too, although his only previous experience has been in toy-making; and in doing so, he raises spiky questions about leadership (democratic/dictatorial) and the survival of the fittest. A fadeout handshake of mutual congratulation finally shoves those questions aside - this is a Hollywood movie, after all - but not before they've achieved their abrasive task.

By: TM


Release details

149 mins

Cast and crew

Robert Aldrich
Lukas Heller
Ian Bannen
George Kennedy
Ronald Fraser
Dan Duryea
Richard Attenborough
James Stewart
Peter Finch
Ernest Borgnine
Hardy Kruger
Christian Marquand
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