USA Today - 05/23/2003
"...One of the best adventure movies ever..."
In Robert Aldrich's THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX, based on Elleston Trevor's novel, a small plane carrying oil workers and military personnel crashes, stranding a group of survivors in the Sahara Desert. As the lethal heat and grating sand begin to take a toll on the group, the conscientious pilot, Frank Towns (James Stewart), struggles with his inability to lead the party to safety. Hope arises, however, when German aircraft designer Heinrich Dorfman (Hardy Kruger) begins to theorize about rebuilding the wreckage into a single-engine plane capable of lifting the crash victims to safety.
Aldrich (KISS ME DEADLY) opens his film with the pulsating tension (intercut with the opening credits) of Towns trying and cataclysmically failing to pilot his aircraft through a sandstorm, and from there the white-knuckle intensity never lets up. Boasting an intriguing cast--headed up by Stewart with a poignantly ragged-edged, heartfelt portrayal--and a taut story line, THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX is a powerful and psychologically penetrating thriller.
The film has the following dedication: "It should be remembered that Paul Mantz, a fine man and a brilliant flyer, gave his life in the making of this film." Paul Mantz did the aerial photography for the film. He died on the last day of shooting.