Flight to Fury (1964) Poster

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A nifty & absorbing Monte Hellman Filipino action thriller
Woodyanders13 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Monte Hellman's unique, obscure, deliberately paced and highly cerebral cinematic meditations on all-consuming and often self-destructive obsession may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for those discriminating viewers who are seeking a bold change of pace from more mundane mainstream multiplex fare such sterling Hellman efforts as "Two-Lane Blacktop" and "Cockfighter" will always do the trick, mainly because they offer a substantial amount of food for thought that alas you really can't find anymore in most mindless big budget blockbusters churned out on a regular basis by Hollywood.

This typically grim and moody Hellman outing, which can be best described as a thinking man's low-budget B-movie action/adventure opus, was shot in the Phillippines on a shoestring budget concurrently with the war picture "Back Door to Fury." Both films star a then unknown, pre-stardom, up-and-coming Jack Nicholson, who later rejoined forces with Hellman for the outstanding existential Westerns "Ride in the Whirlwind" and "The Shooting." The plot for "Flight to Fury" centers on six ruthless, desperate survivors of a doomed plane flight that crashes in the humid, dangerous Filipino jungle who spar with each other over a cache of expensive diamonds. Cardboard cut-out hunk Dewy Martin's blah, underwhelming performance as the ineffectual decent dude would-be hero leaves a great deal to be desired, but luckily Fay Spain, Jack Nicholson and especially longtime favorite Filipino exploitation feature character actor supreme Vic Diaz are also on board to compensate for Martin's off-putting blandness. Platinum blonde firecracker Spain portrays a bewitching, aggressively flirtatious femme fatale with wickedly alluring come-hither aplomb. Nicholson, intense and restrained, excels as a caustic, mustached, cheerfully murderous killer with a smooth smartaleck attitude and a sick infatuation with death. And Diaz, sporting a full head of shiny slicked-back hair, a neatly tailored suit, and a haughty, unctuous disposition, does a splendidly sleazy'n'smarmy Peter Lorre-like turn as a sickeningly suave'n'slimy calculating worm of a diamond smuggler who refuses to let a broken leg impede his chances of getting his fat grubby paws on the loot.

A bleak, cynical, fatalistic, extremely amoral and relentlessly downbeat rumination on the severe repercussions of blind, unthinking greed and brutal, unyielding self-preservation at any cost, "Flight to Fury" benefits significantly from Hellman's taut, no-frills direction, Nicholson's terse, tight, profound, sharply penetrating, but never pretentious script, several shockingly bloody outbursts of sudden, savage, yet quite stirring violence, Mike Accion's stark, polished black and white cinematography, a sweaty, paranoid, claustrophobic atmosphere which never lets up for a second, Nester Roble's nicely brooding gloom-doom score, and a compact, briskly paced 73 minute running time that gets right down to business with a pleasingly straightforward sense of no-nonsense narrative economy. Highly recommended.
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Very minor thriller
Peter Reiher20 November 2006
A plane goes down in the jungle carrying several people who want to lay hands on some stolen diamonds that the pilot is carrying. The opening thirty minutes or so are very dull, but it improves slightly after that. Nicholson isn't bad in a major supporting role, but his writing on the film is weak. (According to director Monte Hellman, who co-wrote the story, Nicholson wrote the script on the three week cruise from San Francisco to Manila, sitting in the ship's lounge and incorporating the conversations he had with anyone who passed by into the script. It plays like that's true, with some fairly random and not very interesting dialog early in the film.) Dewey Martin makes a dull hero. The jungle locations aren't bad.

This film was made back-to-back with "Back Door To Hell," a somewhat better WWII film that also features Nicholson in a supporting role. Hellman was busy at nights editing "Back Door To Hell" at the same time that he was shooting "Flight to Fury."
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thrilla in Manila
Lee Eisenberg14 May 2013
Although very much a B picture, Monte Hellman's "Flight to Fury" is still worth seeing. It's best known as one of Jack Nicholson's early movies but it still has kind of an interesting plot. Nicholson plays one of a group of people after a fortune in the Philippine jungle. The beginning of the movie is a little slow but it picks up once they board the plane and the real action begins in the jungle.

Aside from Nicholson, the cast includes Dewey Martin and Fay Spain. Spain is best known as Hyman Roth's wife in "The Godfather Part 2" (so she starred in an obscure B movie from the '60s but also in a Best Picture winner). There's also Vic Díaz, whom Quentin Tarantino calls the Filipino Peter Lorre, and Joseph Estrada, who later became president of the Philippines.

It's definitely an interesting movie. Jack Nicholson showed a slight tinge of the sarcastic attitude that he brought to his more famous roles.
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FLIGHT TO FURY {Extended Version} (Monte Hellman, 1964) **1/2
MARIO GAUCI18 July 2011
Hellman's second official film is a marked improvement on the first, though still too rough-and-ready to be rated a complete success. Apart from the bigger scope offered him by the plot (various passengers on an airliner which crash-lands in the jungle are after a cache' of diamonds) and setting (this was shot on location in the Philippines), the director yielded another ace with the casting of Jack Nicholson (who even supplied the screenplay himself!) as a smooth villain.

In comparison to his work thus far, the latter's performance here is a revelation and even his dialogue is not half-bad (particularly the philosophical discussion about death he engages in on the plane with the director's own partner at the time, Jaclyn Hellman). The rest of the cast includes dour hero Dewey Martin, femme fatale-ish leading lady Fay Spain (rendered blonde here) and the latter's domineering mobster boss (at one point, he sends his lackey after her when the heroine visits the cock-pit, snapping "we're on a plane – where did you think I'd go?" upon returning to her seat!), who comes across effectively as an Oriental version of Peter Lorre.

Complicating things further, not long after hitting the ground, the survivors are kidnapped by a rebel army – but they manage to turn the tables and escape. It is here, however, that Nicholson's self-preserving instincts come to the fore and Martin can understand the reason for his previous ingratiating nature (Hellman kept the audience one up on him by having already shown the former commit a necktie murder in a hotel-room!). The climax, then, resolves itself in a rather protracted showdown between the two – Spain and the injured hoodlum having been eliminated beforehand – conducted within caves (incidentally, these had also housed a local nightclub!) and ending by a stream (where Nicholson lets go of the diamonds before expiring himself)…with the words "The End" amusingly superimposed on a throwaway shot of the latter's shoes! Incidentally, the ironic final resting place here of the much sought-after jewels was later reprised for the Malta-shot desert adventure A TWIST OF SAND (1968; which I have watched only last month).

Once again, the film (shot concurrently with another effort by the same director and star, namely the war actioner BACK DOOR TO HELL {1964} – whose own viewing will follow presently) underwent additional shooting to stretch the running-time from the original 62 minutes to the current 73 (at least as per the copy I watched, since other sources claim this revamped version to be 80 minutes long).
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Flight To Fury
Drago_Head_Tilt27 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This early Hellman feature (shot back-to-back with BACK DOOR TO HELL in the Philippines, with a local crew) is an odd but entertaining b/w multi-genre programmer. It begins in Manila with star Dewey Martin bedding a girl who ends up dead. We know that it was the friendly-seeming Nicholson (with a moustache) who did it. They both end up on s small passenger plane with other characters (including gangster Vic Diaz, who's very good, and Fay Spain as his bored moll). The long section onboard the plane is not really necessary, but charming character stuff (the original release cut was just an hour, while this 1966 re-issue runs 72 mins. There might have been an 80 min. version too). Then the plane crashes in the jungle and it becomes a survival adventure, and there's stolen diamonds involved too. With Joseph Estrada. Nicholson had previously co-written an obscurity called THUNDER ISLAND (also with Spain) the previous year (future scripts from him include THE TRIP and HEAD). Lippert produced both this and BACK DOOR..., but this was released by Feature Film Corp. of America (they also put out CYBORG 2087, among others). Hellman and Nicholson next made another couple back-to-back, the westerns RIDE IN THE WHIRLWIND and THE SHOOTING.

Movie reviews at: spinegrinderweb.com
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undercooked and too short, but there are some exciting moments
MisterWhiplash10 February 2007
A B-movie with maybe a slight notch of extra fatalism, Flight to Fury is Monte Hellman with a near-disposable piece of low-budget work that's somewhat made up for by some stirring action set-pieces and a chase that makes up the best part of the movie in the last ten minutes. Dewey Martin plays Joe, a man with a particular goal he's after, which is never really too specified despite some interesting, shady dealings early on (according the site here it's gold). Jay (Jack Nicholson) gets involved almost through a very smooth-operating sociopath scheme, as he kills Joe's one night stand and somehow gets involved in the expedition. On the plane, with some other nefarious characters including a Japanese fellow (Vic Diaz), the plane crashes, leaving a few dead and the rest on a trip to get help. But since they're in the Phillipenes, they get caught. Will they escape?

Hey, it's a B-movie after all. The premise isn't that great, but unfortunately Hellman doesn't get things truly in gear until the 2nd half (the scenes on the plane are actually really dull, maybe the point but dull nonetheless). Once the stakes get raised and the characters get more and more on edge- and casualties and bullets fly- then the fun of Hellman's dread-in-B-movie-land gets going stronger. Luckily he has Nicholson as co-star, who even in a less demanding role here gives the goods, as aside from the 'Japanese' guy on the crutches there isn't much in the way of even just decent acting (with the possible exception of that sexual assault scene on Destiny in the hut by the captor). And much of the motives and the dialog, also provided by Nicholson, seem underdeveloped and not good enough for just a 73 minute running time. Then again, it's good that material like this doesn't over-stay its welcome.

I also will probably want to check out just the last ten minutes some other time, as it makes for a very nifty chase scene, in the empty black & white photography, and has a few memorable shots of Nicholson holding a gun and his limp-shot arm. Not a total waste but nothing special, the kind of little movie that probably played a lot on midday TV back in the 70s.
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