[[quoteright:220:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/220px-The_Flight_of_the_Phoenix_-_1965_-_Poster_2233.png]]

->''"I told you there would be no difficulty in building this aeroplane. I also told you it would require an outstanding pilot to fly it. The only thing outstanding about you, Mr. Towns, is your stupidity."''
-->-- '''Heinrich Dorfmann'''

''The Flight of the Phoenix'' is a 1965 [[TheFilmOfTheBook film of the 1964 book of the same name]] by Creator/EllestonTrevor, directed by Robert Aldrich. A twin engine Fairchild C-82 piloted by Frank Towns (Creator/JimmyStewart) with navigator Lew Moran (Richard Attenborough) is flying from Jebel to Benghazi in eastern Libya with a dozen passengers aboard. They include two British soldiers, Captain Harris (Peter Finch) and Sergeant Watson (Ronald Fraser), who are hitching a ride on Towns' plane; eight Arabco oil company employees comprising six riggers who include sardonic Scotsman "Ratbags" Crow (Ian Bannen) and muscular American Mike Bellamy (George Kennedy), an accountant, Standish (Dan Duryea), and a foreman, "Trucker" Cobb (Creator/ErnestBorgnine), who has suffered a mental breakdown and is accompanied by a doctor, Renaud (Christian Marquand); and Heinrich Dorfmann (Hardy Kruger), a German civilian who was visiting his Arabco-employed brother in Jebel.

The plane is caught in a sandstorm and is forced to make a crash landing, killing two of the riggers and severely injuring a third. Though initially optimistic that they will soon be rescued, the survivors soon realise that even if they are missed, no-one knows where to look for them. While Harris decides to set out for the nearest oasis a hundred miles away on foot, Dorfmann announces that he is an aircraft designer and that he has established that they have all the parts [[TheGreatRepair to build a smaller airplane]] out of the wreckage of their aircraft. At first, Towns is dismissive of Dorfmann's idea, but Lew persuades him that the work involved will keep the survivors occupied and give them hope of returning to civilisation. The construction proceeds smoothly apart from the increasing friction between Dorfmann and Towns, until, with the new aircraft nearly complete (and dubbed the ''Phoenix'' by Standish), Dorfmann stuns Towns and Lew with a revelation about his professional background.

The film was quite popular, garnering Academy Award nominations for best supporting actor (Ian Bannen) and film editing.

Another version of the book was released [[Film/TheFlightOfThePhoenix2004 in 2004]].
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!!Tropes in this 1965 film include:

* AchillesInHisTent: After having a massive blowup at Towns when he wants to test the engine of the ''Phoenix'' before they try to fly her, Dorfmann storms into the wrecked aircraft to sulk. An exasperated Lew points out that the water supply is almost exhausted and that when it runs out, the remaining survivors will start fighting over it, and soon they'll all be dead, but Dorfmann is unmoved. Lew then strikes at his vulnerable point by declaring, "You told Towns he was behaving as if stupidity was a virtue. If he's making it into a virtue, ''you're making it into a bloody science!''" The next day, Dorfmann re-emerges and, after getting Towns to declare him in charge of the project, orders everyone to get back to work.
* TheAlcoholic: Lew is established early on as having a weakness for booze when he has a drink while they are in the air; Towns gives him a disapproving look. After the crash, Dr. Renaud asks him if there is any liquor on the plane to help with Gabriele's pain; Lew initially shies away from handing over his bottle by asking if he couldn't use morphine instead. Later, Towns accuses Lew of being drunk the night before the flight and skipping the preliminary checklist - which is why they didn't have a working radio.
* AllGermansAreNazis: Subverted in that Dorfmann says he wasn't involved in the war and no one has a problem with that. Although Ratbags does call him a "Nazi pig" when he admits to having taken more than his share of water.
* AndStarring: Includes several levels of this. The opening credits begin as follows: "An Associates and Aldrich Company Production starring / [[Creator/JimmyStewart James Stewart]] / Richard Attenborough / Peter Finch / Hardy Kruger / Creator/ErnestBorgnine as Trucker Cobb / in ''The Flight of the Phoenix''". But Borgnine's credit is just the beginning - they continue with "Co-starring Ian Bannen / Ronald Fraser / Christian Marquand / Dan Duryea as Standish". And they're still not done, moving on to "Also starring George Kennedy / Gabriele Tinti / Alex Montoya". And that's still not the end, as they continue with "Featuring Peter Bravos / William Aldrich / and Barrie Chase as Farida".[[note]] Bravos and Aldrich die in the crash immediately after the opening credits, and Chase only appears in a flashback/hallucination.[[/note]]
* BedouinRescueService: Subverted - the nomads prove to be hostile, and Harris and Renaud's attempt to establish contact with them ends fatally for them.
* BellyDancer: Sgt. Watson hallucinates about one he saw once.
* ButIReadABookAboutIt: Dorfmann says he has experience building and designing aircraft. He later reveals he works with model aircraft, but it turns out the principles are much the same, just on a smaller scale.
* CaliforniaDoubling: Filmed in California and Nevada, representing the Sahara.
* ClosestThingWeGot: Dorfmann only designs remote controlled model aircraft flown by hobbyists; he has never designed a plane large enough to carry a person. However, he's the closest thing available to a full-size aircraft designer, and, as he points out to the shocked Towns and Lew, the aerodynamic principles governing model aircraft are nearly identical to those for their full-size counterparts.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Trucker Cobb is being flown to Benghazi after suffering a mental breakdown, and establishes himself early on as a bit spacey; when Lew notes that the plane's radio is out of order, an upbeat Cobb tells him that record players are more reliable. His grip on reality slips further after the crash; he tells the others that Captain Harris has invited him to go on his attempt to walk to civilisation, but when the alarmed Towns tells Harris that Cobb is in no state to go anywhere, a confused Harris says he hasn't even spoken to Cobb.
* ConflictBall: Dorfmann is offended when Towns reacts to his suggestion that they build a new plane out of the wreckage of the old one by angrily asking him if he's trying to be funny, but he quickly goes from there to calling Towns stupid at every opportunity.
* CoversAlwaysLie: Don't knock it, this really is an ''awesome'' movie... just not quite as action-packed as the above poster implies.
* DeadHandShot:
** Bill and Tassos, the riggers who are crushed to death by loose heavy equipment during the crash, each get one of these, with Bill's hand next to the issue of ''Playboy'' he was reading before the crash and Tassos' hand around the neck of his smashed bouzouki.
** After Gabriele slits his wrists, there is a shot from Harris' point of view of his lifeless arm hanging over the side of his makeshift bunk, blood dripping onto the torn pieces of the photo of him and his wife on the floor.
* DeadpanSnarker:
** [[ViolentGlaswegian Ratbags Crow]] spends most of the film poking fun at the other characters in ways he alone seems to find amusing. When he notices Dorfmann obsessing over his calculations, he jokes that it's a wonder the Germans didn't win [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII the war]]. Dorfmann, clearly uninterested in the subject, says he wasn't involved; Crow then jokes to the other passengers that Dorfmann's non-involvement must be the reason the Germans lost.[[note]] In reality, Hardy Krüger was conscripted into the ''Wehrmacht'' in 1944, aged 16, and then into the SS a year later.[[/note]]
** Dorfmann also definitely counts:
--->'''Towns:''' I said, are you trying to be funny?\\
'''Dorfmann:''' That is precisely the reaction I would have expected from a man of your obvious limitations.
* DeathGlare: Towns gives Sgt. Watson a brutal one when the latter runs to tell everyone that Cobb has run off after Harris and Carlos... thereby giving away the fact that he was PlayingSick when he claimed to have sprained his ankle. He spends most of the rest of his interactions with Watson shooting him dirty looks.
* DespairEventHorizon: Trucker Cobb, already convinced his career as an oil rigger is over after his breakdown, passes the despair point of no return when Harris tries to disabuse him of the idea that he is fit to accompany him on his attempt to reach Madara on foot. He physically assaults Harris and has to be restrained by the other passengers as he wails miserably. Not long after Harris and Carlos leave, he runs after them anyway, without even taking a canteen; he doesn't get far.
* DirtyCoward: Sgt. Watson fakes a leg injury to get out of going with Capt. Harris on his attempt to walk to civilisation; Carlos, his replacement, does not survive the expedition. When Harris returns, dehydrated and half-dead, Watson is the first to find him but decides not to tell anyone (Dorfmann, the second person to discover Harris, is not as discreet). Finally, he bluntly refuses to join Harris in trying to make contact with the nomads; neither Harris nor Renaud, Watson's replacement, survive the encounter. [[spoiler:Watson, meanwhile, [[KarmaHoudini does survive the film.]]]]
* DrivenToSuicide: Gabriele, already worried that his wife is terminally ill (and may already be dead) but not knowing the details, is gravely injured in the crash, and when it becomes apparent he will not live long enough to be rescued, he slits his wrists.
* DroppedABridgeOnHim: Trucker Cobb dies of thirst about a third of the way into the film after running off into the desert without even taking a canteen.
* EstablishingCharacterMoment: In the ten minutes before the crash, we learn a lot about the characters through their seemingly innocuous interactions with each other.
** Frank Towns establishes himself as a jaded veteran pilot who feels more sorrow than excitement at the way flying is changing during a conversation with Lew in the cockpit; this sentiment is part of the cause of the friction between Towns and Dorfmann.
--->'''Captain Towns:''' A pilot is supposed to use his own judgement, don't you think? If it weren't for that... I don't know, Lew. I suppose pilots are just as good now as they ever were, but they sure don't live the way we did. Why, I could tell you that there were times when you took real pride... in just ''getting'' there. Flying used to be fun, it really did, Lew... it used to be fun.
** Lew's QuickNip from a bottle of liquor and Towns' disappointed look when he notices this are our first indication that the navigator has a drinking problem, and it is later revealed as at least partly responsible for the survivors' plight after the crash (Lew rushed the pre-flight checks because he was sleeping off a hangover and so didn't notice the dead radio until it was too late).
** Captain Harris telling Sgt. Watson that having his bag on the seat next to him looks untidy and that he should put it back with the cargo paints Harris as a by-the-book officer, while Watson's sullen demeanour as he obeys reveals him as sick of the army and [[TheResenter resentful of Harris as a representative of officers.]]
** Standish ducking nervously into the plane's toilet during the early moments of the sandstorm and Ratbags laughing "Hey, Standish! Not while the train's in the station!" show Standish as a nebbish out of his depth in the desert and Ratbags as a cross between a {{Jerkass}} and a DeadpanSnarker.
** Cobb reacting to Lew's declaration that the plane's radio is not working by telling him that record players are more reliable than radios anyway shows that his grip on reality has become somewhat tenuous; it isn't until after the crash that we learn he is being sent away on sick leave after a mental breakdown.
** As the sandstorm worsens, Dorfmann remarking to Cobb that he thinks Towns unwise for flying on to Benghazi instead of the alternate airport if the radio is not working and that he further thinks him too old to be flying without a co-pilot both reveal him as practical yet blunt, and foreshadow his conflict of egos with Towns after the crash.
* TheExtremistWasRight: Dorfmann has a chance to boast when his insistence that a full-size plane and a model are built with the same proportions, and will therefore have the same result during flight, is proven correct when the ''Phoenix'' takes off.
* FanserviceExtra: Watson's flashback/hallucination of Farida, the belly dancer he met in Benghazi. The hallucination is the only woman in the entire movie, and was advertised on the poster despite her one-minute scene.
* FatalFamilyPhoto: In Gabriele's last scene, he looks at a picture of himself and his wife. Standish tries to rouse his spirits by saying his wife his very pretty, but Gabriele is convinced that the telegram she sent him saying she was ill means she has already died. He rips up the photo in a final act of despair before slitting his wrists, and by the time Harris notices that he is dead, his blood has pooled over the torn pieces.
* FirstNameBasis: Frank Towns and Lew Moran have worked together for long enough that they address each other as "Frank" and "Lew". To the rest of the characters, they are "Mr. Towns" (or "Captain Towns" or "Skipper") and "Mr. Moran".
* FloatingHeadSyndrome: The DVD release cover features headshots of Hardy Kruger and Jimmy Stewart as Dorfmann and Towns floating over the wreckage of the aircraft.
* GermanicEfficiency / ScienceRelatedMemeticDisorder: When Dorfmann determines that enough pieces can be scavenged from the crashed aircraft to build a smaller model, he becomes almost obsessed with ensuring that construction proceeds to his specifications and on his schedule, and scarcely seems interested in the human cost to the other passengers. Such is his determination that he doesn't even crack a smile until Towns succeeds in starting the engine in the film's climax.
* GoingColdTurkey: Stranded in the desert as they are, the survivors who smoke or drink are forced to do without when their supplies of cigarettes and alcohol run out. Late in the film, Ratbags quips that he plans to write a letter to the ''[[UsefulNotes/BritishNewspapers Daily Mirror]]'' entitled "How I gave up smoking in three days".
* TheGreatRepair: The characters are stranded in the desert after their plane crashes during a sandstorm, and when it becomes apparent that no rescue mission is forthcoming, their only hope of getting out is to build a new plane from the wreckage of the old one.
* HonorBeforeReason: This is one of Captain Harris' defining character traits, and his application of it results in multiple {{Senseless Sacrifice}}s.
** He remains determined to set off for Madara, a hundred miles away, on foot, insisting that it can only improve the chance the others will be rescued, even after Towns points out that the magnetic rock in the nearby mountains will render his compass useless while Lew notes that the calculations involved in navigating by the stars require too much precision and his right-handedness means that he will end up simply walking in a circle. Sure enough, Harris ends up back at the crash site a few days later, near death from dehydration and exhaustion, his companion from the expedition, Carlos, having died in the desert.
** He insists on trying to make contact with the nomads on the chance they might help the stranded passengers, even though he himself knows they are likely outside the law of their own tribe and there's nothing stopping them from killing him. When Sgt. Watson flatly refuses to accompany him, he tries to place him under open arrest and orders him to hand over his revolver; Watson again refuses. (To Harris' credit, he does realise that there is nothing he can do to force Watson to obey, and so he stops trying.) As predicted, when Harris and Renaud approach the nomads, their throats are cut and their bodies looted.
*** ItsTheOnlyWay: In Harris' defense, he believes the chances of Dorfmann's plane getting off the ground is zero, and Towns isn't inclined to disagree.
* IdiotBall: Captain Towns and Lew, being ''pilots'' and all, shouldn't have been so shocked that the principles of flying model aircraft and full size aircraft are the same - [[TropesAreTools but the tension needed to be there]].
* IKnowMortalKombat: In a non-combat version of this trope, Dorfmann doesn't actually design commercial aircraft, just scale models operated by remote control. However, the basic principles are the same, and he notes to Towns and Lew that there are extra challenges in designing model aircraft, as they have no pilots and so cannot rely on them for stability.
* INeedAFreakingDrink: As the sandstorm begins to worsen, Lew takes out a bottle of liquor and has a QuickNip from it. Towns gives him a disappointed look, but says nothing.
* {{Jerkass}}:
** Ratbags Crow is barely able to go for a single scene without making fun of one of the other castaways; after his usual verbal jousting partner, Carlos, dies while trekking into the desert with Harris, he is left with passengers who find his sarcasm irritating rather than funny (for example, when he pretend flirts with an unamused Watson while asking him for a spanner, the latter simply tells Crow to knock it off). That said, while he's a pretty unsympathetic character (less so than Watson, maybe), he works very hard during the ordeal and never could be accused of cowardice or bringing any detriment to the group.
** Dorfmann has several particularly callous moments, and while [[JerkassHasAPoint he may be right]] in saying that Towns going after Cobb, whose insanity would have made him useless to the construction effort, is a fool's errand, or that Gabriele will not live long enough to see the ''Phoenix'' completed and so whether or not he can hold onto the wings is an academic concern, his method of delivering these opinions does not endear him to the other castaways. But as only he knows how to build the new plane, they are forced to grit their teeth and put up with his bluntness.
* LastNameBasis: Several of the survivors are only addressed by their last names, including Harris, Watson, Renaud, and Standish (in the case of the two soldiers and the doctor, some characters don't even bother using their professional titles). "Trucker" Cobb and "Ratbags" Crow are given nicknames (though Cobb is never addressed as "Trucker" in the film, while only Carlos addresses Crow as "Ratbags"), but no first name.[[note]] As he dies, Cobb traces the name "E. Cobb" in the sand, but we never learn what the "E" stands for.[[/note]] Only four characters get first ''and'' last names (Frank Towns, Lew Moran, Heinrich Dorfmann, and Mike Bellamy).
* LaughingMad: Lew has a fit of this when he realizes that Dorfmann has no "real airplane" building experience.
* {{Leitmotif}}: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VtzM16bxvk "Lilliburlero"]], a marching tune attributed to Henry Purcell but believed to be of ultimately Irish origin, is used as a theme for Captain Harris due to its association with the British Army.[[note]] Aldrich would use "Lilliburlero" as a leitmotif for the British Army again in his 1970 film ''Too Late the Hero''.[[/note]]
* MauveShirt:
** Trucker Cobb becomes a figure of sympathy as he laments the fact that his mental breakdown has likely irreparably ruined his present and future career as an oil rig foreman (even as Renaud tries to assure him that everyone has a breaking point), and this is heightened as his sanity slips further until he makes his final suicidal trek after Harris.
** In Gabriele's brief time in the film, we learn that he has received a telegram from his wife about an unspecified medical condition, and he fears the worst. By the time it becomes apparent he will not recover from the injuries he sustained in the crash, he has abandoned all hope that she is even still alive.
* MeaningfulName: Standish paints the name "Phoenix" on the tail of the new plane since he hopes that it, too, will rise into the air from the ashes of its old self.
* MisplacedNamesPoster: If you went by the DVD cover, you'd assume James Stewart played Dorfmann and Richard Attenborough played Towns (while Hardy Kruger doesn't even rate a mention).
* OhCrap: Watson gets a big moment of this when Dorfmann shouts to the others that Harris has returned from his failed expedition, half-dead... which Watson already knows, as he found him several hours earlier but decided not to tell anyone (which Harris knows, as he saw Watson when the latter came over to investigate). As the other passengers run to Harris' aid, Watson closes his eyes in despair and rolls over in his bunk, certain that his life is about to get very difficult. (As it turns out, Harris is so exhausted that he says nothing about Watson's deceit, simply asking if he's been "holding the fort" in his absence and then asking him to clean the sand out of his gun.)
* OneBulletLeft: Subverted with the Coffman starter cartridges. When Towns gets into the "cockpit", he has seven cartridges. The first four fail to start the engine, and to Dorfmann's horror, he then uses the fifth to clear the cylinders without turning on the ignition. However, the sixth cartridge starts the engine successfully, making the seventh cartridge superfluous.
* OnlySaneMan: Lew, in his best moments, negotiates the conflicting egos of Towns and Dorfmann.
* ThePhoenix: The rescue plane is built from the parts of the original.
* PlayingSick: Sgt. Watson feigns a leg injury to get out of accompanying Capt. Harris on his attempt to walk to civilisation; Harris takes Carlos instead. Unfortunately for Watson, he gives himself away when, on discovering that Cobb has gone after Harris, he runs to inform the other passengers.
* POVCam: When Watson walks back to the crash site after finding Harris, there is a brief shot of him from Harris' point of view, complete with [[ImpairmentShot vision blurred from dehydration and exhaustion]], before he loses consciousness.
* RageBreakingPoint: Towns snaps after discovering that Harris and Renaud have had their throats cut by the nomads, and the camel they left behind was abandoned because it can't walk properly. He proceeds to empty the contents of Watson's service revolver into the camel, and when he returns to the ''Phoenix'' and an unrepentant Watson says, "He's dead, isn't he?", his anger at the sergeant's cowardice boils over and he knocks him to the ground with a single punch.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: After yet another argument between Towns and Dorfmann, Lew confronts Towns and accuses him of being so dead set against the idea that Dorfmann's plan might work because he can't accept that the times might be changing faster than he can adapt to them. The unimpressed Towns then turns around and blames Lew's alcoholism for landing them in their current plight, saying that if he hadn't been getting drunk the previous night, he might have noticed the radio wasn't working.
* RedShirt:
** Tassos and Bill, the unfortunate saps that get crushed by heavy equipment during the plane crash, are around for just long enough for us to learn that Tassos plays the bouzouki and Bill likes reading ''Playboy''. After the crash, we see Tassos' bouzouki smashed into kindling and Bill's magazine lying by his lifeless hand.
** Carlos, the guy who gives Mike Bellamy his monkey in case he doesn't make it back from his expedition with Harris, is established in his very short screen time as a verbal sparring partner for Ratbags.
* TheResenter: Sgt. Watson has a long-standing grudge against officers that finally blows up when he outright refuses to obey Captain Harris' orders.
* {{Robinsonade}}: The survivors of the crash are forced to live off the plane's cargo (pressed dates for food, a fifteen gallon emergency water supply plus whatever can be distilled from anti-freeze) until they are either rescued or able to get the ''Phoenix'' into the air.
* SenselessSacrifice: Harris ends up being responsible for three of these. First, when he and Carlos strike out for Madara on foot, Carlos dies of thirst and Harris ends up walking in a giant circle back to the crash site. Second, when he and Renaud approach the nomads camped just over the dunes from the crash site, they end up with their throats cut. In both cases, he knows he is taking a potentially life-threatening risk, but [[HonorBeforeReason decides the possibility that he might be able to get help outweighs the risk.]]
* ShootTheDog: When Towns and Lew discover Harris and Renaud's dead bodies next to the lame camel abandoned by the nomads, Towns repeatedly shoots the camel with Watson's gun both to put it out of its misery and to release his anger at the deteriorating situation around him.
* StiffUpperLip: Harris is described by Lew to Towns as "excessively British", and his embodiment of this trope is part of the reason for this; among all of the survivors, he is the least likely to be seen either laughing, despairing, or raising his voice in anger. After the crash, he is the one who leads the way in sorting out the water rationing, Towns being too overwhelmed by SurvivorGuilt to do so himself. When made aware of the life-threatening dangers in his plans to reach Madara on foot and to contact the nomads, he remains determined to face them. He even shrugs off Watson's early acts of rebellion and deceit, and when the latter finally snaps and refuses to go along to contact the nomads, Harris seems more disappointed than angry.
* SurvivorGuilt: Capt. Towns has this when he loses two people and one is gravely injured in the crash. After Tassos and Bill are buried, Standish offers Towns his Bible and asks if he'd like to say a few words; Towns, near despair, says, "Like what?... 'Sorry'?" Later, as he is writing the crash report in his log book, he scribbles out his description of the sandstorm and simply writes "Pilot error" as the reason for the crash. The subsequent deaths of Cobb, Carlos, and Gabriele make his guilt steadily worse.
* ThereIsAGod: Standish, established early on as a practising Catholic (he makes the sign of the Cross during the crash and is fingering rosary beads when Towns tries to start the engine), sinks to his knees in a prayer of thanksgiving when the ''Phoenix'' starts successfully.
* UpperClassTwit: This is Sgt. Watson's assessment of all army officers, including Capt. Harris; he describes them as a "toffee-nosed bunch of gits".
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