Flight of the Phoenix, The (1965)

The Flight of the Phoenix (1965), produced and directed by Robert Aldrich.

When their plane crashes in the Arabian desert, the survivors find they have little water and no hope of rescue or trekking out. Can a lunatic plan work: build a new plane from pieces of the old and fly it out?

It's a pure survival and endurance story, no women (apart from the odd hallucination) or kids. The sole bit of cuteness is a pet monkey. They do a fair amount of psycho-drama with conflict between the men, but they are all cracking up and facing imminent death.

At 25 minutes remaining there is a shocking plot twist I will not reveal even in a spoiler. The tense scene of trying to start an engine with seven (only!) explosive cartridges is fine filmmaking.

Strong cast headed by James Stewart, playing his age as a tough old flyer somewhat addled by guilt. Hardy Kruger is an unlikeable teutonically cool and efficient engineer. Also with Richard Attenborough, Peter Finch, Ernest Borgnine, Ian Bannen, Dan Duryea, and George Kennedy.

Made in California and Arizona. There was one death during filming, a stunt pilot.

Remade in 2004.