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The Flight of the Phoenix
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Flight of the Phoenix More at IMDbPro »

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9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

The Good & Bad Of 'The Flight Of The Phoenix'

Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
10 March 2007

THE GOOD - This certainly sports an all-star cast with Jimmy Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Peter Finch, Hardy Krueger, Ernest Borgnine and Dan Duryea. It's well-acted and well- written, making the characters fairly interesting guys. If you enjoy stage plays, you'll like this.

THE BAD - I don't like talky stage plays, and that's what this is, even though the scenario is out in the desert, with a bunch of guys trying to cope under tough conditions after their cargo plane goes down in a sandstorm over the Saraha desert.

It turns out to be two hours and 20-some minutes of a bunch of bickering guys, along with character studies of each man. The most disappointing of all was Stewart's "Captain Frank Towns," another bitter irreverent guy like he played in "Shenandoah," (another '60s film, by the way.) Of course, the cliché of having the German guy (Hardy Krueger playing "Heinrich Dorfmann") as the worst character, is also in here.

I made it through one viewing of this testosterone soaper, thanks to the "good news" written above, but I have no desire to ever sit through this again. It wasn't THAT interesting!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

a story of conflict and survival...and there's a monkey!

Author: Gianni St Angelo from Thorp, Wisconsin
6 December 2004

I found this to be an extraordinary story of conflict and survival. Jimmy Stewart leads a cast of stars in this gripping story of oil workers and others who find themselves stranded in the desert after a plane crash that has killed some and left others fatally injured. Walk out of the desert, wait for help or fix the plane? What is the best course, and who is in charge? Thrilling human drama. One scene in this film stands out as one of Jimmy Stewart's best, in my opinion. Towns and Dorfmann are discussing Dorfmann's career as an airplane designer. Stewart's facial expressions are superb when he learns more than he wanted to about Dormann's job as an engineer. I've watched this film more than once to see that scene alone. I can't see the 2004 version surpassing the 1965 version.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Stewart & Borgnine Shine in this Desert Storm!

Author: morgie55 from United States
3 July 2012

After watching the horrible remake, I thought I would catch the original The Flight of the Phoenix, with some of my favorite stars, Ernest Borgnine, Jimmy Stewart and a few others.

I've liked Stewart's early films from the Golden Age of Hollywood but he is more subdued in this picture. His plane, barely able to fly as it is, hits a sandstorm somewhere in the Sahara Desert, on his way to an oil field. The men aboard are mostly all miners. In fact, a few get killed in the first ten minutes of the film, but I digress! Playing the pilot who blames himself is well worth the watch. Stewart underplays this as well as using his fists with those who wish to oppose him. Despite his protests, some of the crew want to build a new plane out of the old wreckage, since they'd rather "die while doing something" than die and do nothing.

Some of the men go crazy with the heat and wanting to be rescued. Borgnine practically recaptures his acting acumen he got from his Academy award-winning film "Marty" (1955) as he freaks out and runs into the desert than put up with his pals on the plane.

The scene with the meeting of the Arab traders was fascinating – I won't spoil it, but it was played from the aspect of the survivors and the horrific ending for a couple of the crew will gross you out. Much better than the remake, which went into what happened and how in detail, leaving nothing to the imagination.

Richard Attenborough as the stuttering, drunk pal of Stewart's, as he tries to cope with his friend's obstinance and getting him to see that there is some hope in this desert of despair.

Bottom Line: Big name stars, under-appreciated bit of entertainment from Warner Bros. The unlikely event of a plane crashing with just enough needed inside the plane to make a new one, and a psychological study of men under strain and lacking hope, far from any rescue. Worth a rental!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

One of the unsurpassed greats at character exploration and building...

Author: Tim Kidner ( from Salisbury, United Kingdom
29 May 2012

This original Flight of the Phoenix, fronted by the by then veteran Jimmy Stewart, who is one of my all-time favourites, remains ones my father's very favourite films - and he has no interest in movies, to the point where he generally doesn't know one film from the other, apart from the classic few - Great Escape, Bridge on the River Kwai etc but this is still the one he enjoys the most.

It's a film that manages to still remain cross-generational, as I really like it too - a wonderful mixture of high drama, tension, pure survival and engineering. This might make it more a film for the boys, old and young, but that is just as applicable to the Great Escape which is a true family film, as this is, too.

Robert Aldrich's direction is first class, with real, wind-strewn sand, broken down plane and heat. That sense of reality makes it more believable, you are almost a fly in the desert watching these men go about their sole and increasingly treacherous quest for sheer survival.

The cast list is exemplary, too. Joining Stewart is a sea of famous faces, from Dickie Attenborough, George Kennedy, Peter Finch, Ernest Borgnine and of course, one of the outstanding performances of the era, from Hardy Kruger, the German who is initially so distrusted but who goes on to become their saviour. Ian Bannen is also memorable as the confrontational Scot.

It's long but only in the value for money stakes - you get a lot of film and is never less than interesting, rising to compulsive viewing at its peaks. Its finale is also one of the most uplifting in cinema history.

There's almost no point in comparing this classic with its 2004 remake, except perhaps that if you did like John Moore's effort, with Dennis Quaid, forget any indifferences you may have toward older films and see this, vastly superior original. This is a genuine 5 starrer, that's more like a 2.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

God Bless the Actors of Old...

Author: NeHaud
23 May 2011

How I miss the actors from the mid 20th century...they were dashing, courageous, and above all- gentlemanly. I wish sometimes I had lived during these golden years, to have the chance to meet these actors in their prime. Flight of the Phoenix offers me a small chance to accomplish this dream. There are many famous actors of this era featured, all artfully blended together, none overpowering the others. Stewart and Attenbourough are two of my favorite actors, and to see them side by side is a special treat. This story of character studies if wonderful food for thought, and will stay on your mind for a long time to come.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Far superior to the re-make

Author: parcdelagrange from United Kingdom
5 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have just watched the 2004 version of this film, although entertaining and by no means a bad film, it lacks the realism and grittiness of this 1965 original. I found the 2004 film to be a sanitised version, it failed to convey to the viewer the intolerable heat of the desert and the desperate fatigue and water and food deprivation suffered by the crash victims. This original version also has minor sub plots and the characters are more complex and dare I say, better acted? This film was made at the tail end of when Hollywood still produced class films and used talented actors, who were masters of their craft and not just 'celebrities'.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A 'thinking persons' survival flick.

Author: runamokprods from US
13 June 2010

Exciting, well made, well acted survival in the desert story with a tougher and edgier than usual performance by Jimmy Stewart. Certainly more complex and thoughtful than most disaster/survival films, with some great twists, and a fun ensemble of characters full of intriguing eccentricities. No one character has a monopoly on moral righteousness, and even Stewart's 'hero' is a man with real flaws.

A few story points push the bounds of believability or logic, and Aldrich makes one or two silly or dated choices, but it's stayed with me far longer and more powerfully than the vast majority of films in it's genre.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A Missing Scene?

Author: djkla from United States
4 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Like most who've posted here, I love this film, never tire of watching it, and would never think of watching the remake.

One thing that puzzles me, though, is the unresolved fate of Carlos, the character who accompanies Captain Harris on his attempted march after Sergeant Watson feigns his ankle injury.

We know that Harris returns, but Carlos never does.

Now, somewhere in a distant memory I seem to recall a version where we get a shot of Carlos lying on a beach, barely alive, but apparently successful in having walked out of the desert!

Don't know if I'm confusing this with another movie, but if I am, then Carlos remains a hanging thread in all versions I've seen for many years.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Toying with Tragedy.

Author: dunmore_ego from Los Angeles, California
21 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's TWELVE ANGRY MEN trapped in the desert.

A cargo plane carrying a handful of military personnel and civilians crashlands in the Sahara. No radio contact, 130 miles off course, with no rescue prospects, food and water for eleven days... One of the passengers claims to be an aircraft designer and outlines a plan to rebuild the plane from its remaining parts. Thus their simultaneous hope and damnation begins.

Classic premise, moved from a desert island to just a desert.

Written by Lukas Heller and Trevor Dudley Smith, FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX is a unique little gem, directed by Robert Aldrich, who would go on to direct the classic testosterone war film, THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967), but unfortunately also has the lamentable APACHE (1954) to his credit.

Hardy Kruger is German designer and taskmaster, Dorfmann, who maintains he has worked out all the drag coefficients and stress factors for a rebuild; James Stewart is cantankerous American leatherneck pilot Towns, who has "flown every crate ever built," and disagrees with Dorfmann on just about everything, imbued with that American idealism that all it takes to be right is a good left hook and an unwavering belief, against all evidence, that he is right. Richard Attenborough is Towns's co-pilot, Lew, the mediator between Dorfmann and Towns.

Peter Finch (long before he was mad as hell) is a British officer who believes he can walk across the desert to safety; Ernest Borgnine is a big baby, diagnosed as "mentally incompetent"; George Kennedy is along for the ride, Ian Bannen is the jovial Scottish bigot.

Each character is well-defined and their clash of personalities, ideologies and solutions is what makes PHOENIX such compelling viewing; the tension is palpable, first on whether the men will survive, then during the inevitable disputes that arise over water rations, blame for the crash, leadership, whether to waste their few days striving to build a plane that might not fly, overarched by the classic he-man struggle of alpha leadership between Towns and Dorfmann.

Like the mythical bird that rises from its ashes, one of the men christens the rebuilt section of plane "Phoenix" by painting its name on the fuselage.

Dorfmann is a pragmatist and oversees the Phoenix re-building like a machine, factoring in unemotionally that one of the injured men is going to die, so will not need any more rations and needn't be figured as payload along the wings; while Towns regards all his passengers as humans, who should all strive to be alive at the end of their goal for their goal to mean something. Lew helps Towns finds the compromise - that allowing the men to work on a goal will give them morale and turn them into survival machines.

Amazing that amidst the scorching expanse of desert heat, we yet feel such claustrophobia; as the sands close in, as their rations run out, as the makeshift aircraft is pronounced ready for takeoff, Towns and Lew discover Dorfmann was not lying when he said he was an aircraft designer... he just left out a key fact about what type of aircraft he was a designer of.

It is such an astounding twist to the plot that Lew echoes all our emotions by belly-laughing and weeping at the same time, "We could die here - or we could die in that thing..."

Things could be worse: they could have been in ISHTAR.

--Review by Poffy The Cucumber (for Poffy's Movie Mania).

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A gem from the golden era of movie making

Author: ss_vt from United States
16 July 2009

I am gonna have to say it's a shame that this movie is not in IMDb top 100, but then again the top 250 list isn't really indicative of anything as so many mediocre movies have made it to the list. Regardless, "The Flight of the Phoenix" is one of my all time favorite movies. Great direction, acting, story and above all chemistry between the characters is phenomenal. This movie truly represents the golden era of movie making that is the 60's and 70's (I must mention I was born in the early 80's). Hardy kruger's character as the aircraft designer is one of the most though provoking character I have encountered in movies. He doesn't speak much but when he does he leaves other characters in the movie as well the audience speechless. His character was well researched and Hardy Kruger was the perfect choice to play it. The second character that impressed me the most was of Richard Attenborough. There is a lot of friction between characters played by James Stewart (pilot) and Hardy Kruger (aircraft designer) and Attenborough acts as oil to reduce the friction between them and he does that in an outstanding manner. This is not to say other characters in the movie didn't impress me, there wasn't a single character that was unnecessary or not paid attention to. This movie is a work of art with every part chiseled to perfection. Its hard to imagine what it would feel like to be stranded in the middle of a hot desert with a limited supply of water and waiting for death on the other side of sand dune. But director Aldrich does a great job of playing those emotions perfectly and his cast doesn't let him down. A 10 out of 10….I would greatly recommend this film if you prefer substance and story over CGI and bad acting.

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