The Flight of the phoenix is a grim, tenseful, realistic tale of a small group of men forced down on the North African desert and their desperate efforts to build a single-engine plane out of the wreckage of the twin job in which they crashed during a sandstorm. Robert Aldrich’s filmic translation of the Elleston Trevor book is an often-fascinating and superlative piece of filmmaking highlighted by standout performances and touches that show producer-director at his best.
James Stewart, as the pilot of a desert oil company cargo-passenger plane who flies by the seat of his pants, is strongly cast in role and is strongly backed by entire cast. Each, seemingly hand-picked for the individual parts, are every-day persons who might either be employees of an oil company or business visitors.
A young aircraft designer, who had been visiting his brother at the oil camp, comes up with the extraordinary idea that a make-shift plane might be fashioned to fly the survivors to safety. So work starts, and it is this endeavor in its various phases that makes the story.
1965: Nominations: Best Supp. Actor (Ian Bannen), Editing