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directed by Robert Aldrich
USA 19
65

 

I'm a little appalled , yet not surprised, that a remake of this magnificent film has reared its ugly head. It is also fascinating to me how many incredible films Jimmy Stewart has starred in (and how many poor ones Dennis Quaid appears?) - no I won't compare the two films... it is unnecessary. Perhaps the 2004 edition will ignite some interest in the older, more polished gem.

 

Robert Aldrich's 1965 "The Flight of the Phoenix" rates as one of the best psychological adventure films of the 60's (which is saying a whole heap!). The premise, though simple, resonates to an astounding tale of survival, male bonding, fortune and hope. A twin-engine propeller plane (circa 1940) takes off from a mining operation in the Middle East piloted by Capt. Frank Towns (Jimmy Stewart) with inexperienced co-pilot Lew Moran (Sir Richard Attenborough). When the harsh desert sandstorms stands up on its hind legs the plane crashes in the middle of nowhere... with no hopes of being found or rescued. Now survival mode kicks in - rationing - slim chances of trekking the desert - waiting. A key reason for the success of this film, aside from a marvelous narrative, are the strength of the cast including some of the greatest supporting players ever available: Peter Finch, Hardy Krüger, Ernest Borgnine, Ian Bannen, Christian Marquand, Dan Duryea and George Kennedy. Stewart, always excellent, may actually be at the zenith of his onscreen charisma as the disgruntled pilot looking for a reason to lose. With all the characters getting slightly touched in the head by the circumstances and the sun, they decide to build a new plane from the wreckage of the old. This is more in line with keeping themselves busy before death slowly arrives. The interaction between male characters here is like a keynote in sociology - ever gripping and consistently degrading their humanity as time wears on. This film is beyond a mere adventure story - it is a tale of survival, courage and most of all - communication.

 

NOTE: The plane they leave on at the end of the film was to be a C-82 Boom. The stunt of taking off was too dangerous, so legendary stunt pilot Paul Mantz was asked to merely come in low, run his landing gear along the ground, then take off again, simulating a take-off. On the second take the plane crashed and was destroyed, killing Mantz. As all main footage had already been shot, a North American O-47A observation plane from the Air Museum was substituted for the remaining close-ups.

 

  Posters

Theatrical Release: December 15th, 1965 - USA

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Comparison:

20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

1) Fox - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

   

Distribution 20th Century Fox - Region 1- NTSC Masters of Cinema - Spine # 149
Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:21:45 2:22:00.011
Video 1.83:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.11 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1.85:1 Aspect Ratio Disc

Size: 49,422,588,951 bytes

Feature Size: 42,752,665,152 bytes

Total Bitrate: 34.83 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (mono), DUBs: French (mono) , Spanish (mono)   LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Isolated Score: LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Subtitles English, Spanish, None English (SDH), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: 20th Century Fox

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.83:1

Edition Details:

• Theatrical Trailer
• Spanish Trailer
• Portuguese Trailer

DVD Release Date: May 20th, 2003

Keep Case
Chapters: 36

Release Information:
Studio: M
asters of Cinema

 

1.85:1 Aspect Ratio Disc

Size: 49,422,588,951 bytes

Feature Size: 42,752,665,152 bytes

Total Bitrate: 34.83 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 Video

 

Edition Details:
• 
Isolated music and effects track
• New video interview with film historian Sheldon Hall (25:32)
• Original theatrical trailer (3:08)
• PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Neil Sinyard and archival images

Blu-ray Release Date: September 12th, 2016
Transparent Blu-ray case

Chapters 11

 

 

 

Comments:
NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray August 2016': My initial reaction is - AMAZING! That's how the MoC, max'ed out bitrate, dual-layered image quality compares to the old DVD from 13 years ago. This 1080P looks fabulous - richer colors, far superior contrast and some impressive detail on the film's many close-ups. 

NOTE: I noticed two very abrupt, unusual cuts, but believe they were also like that on the DVD.

Audio is likewise impressive. Frank De Vol's (The Dirty Dozen, Kiss Me Deadly, The Big Knife (1955), What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?, McLintock) memorable score is able to advance the film's despair and tension - shifting between the two - and sounds superb in the linear PCM, lossless, audio transfer (also available in an isolated track option.) Plane engine noise adds intensive depth. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and the Blu-ray disc is region 'B'-locked.

As well as offering the isolated music and effects track, there is a new 25-minute video interview with film historian Sheldon Hall who has written Zulu: With Some Guts Behind It about the 1964 film. He gives some nice insights and I quite enjoyed it. There is also an original theatrical trailer and the package has a liner notes booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Neil Sinyard and archival images.

This Blu-ray presentation is magnificent and the film is a masterpiece. This has our highest recommendation!

***

ON THE DVD: Not a bad image at all. Minor softness, but true filmic experience with no digital manipulations. Colors may be slightly washed, but contrast is very good. Subtitles are excellent, audio gives 4 choices (English stereo and mono) and 2 DUBs in mono. No extras save the trailers. It seems to have been a forgotten film - but a true gem so I doubt it will be SE'ed soon. It deserves it though. This DVD gets  out of

Gary W. Tooze

 


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Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

 

1) Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures


 

Box Covers

   

Distribution 20th Century Fox - Region 1- NTSC Masters of Cinema - Spine # 149
Region 'B' - Blu-ray


 


 

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