While I was watching this film, I was reminded constantly of something Kurt Vonnegut had written when talking of the basics of creative writing. Basic rule #2 was: Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for. The next rule was: Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
In a very literal way, almost every scene of The Flight of the Phoenix resonates with that need for a glass of water. Chapped lips, cracked skin, a desperation for water—and the need to accomplish a task that certainly means the difference between life and death.
As I mentioned in a previous post, watching this film gave me a sense of déjà vu. There’s a lot about it that’s very reminiscent of classic Hindi cinema. The lost heir who can be identified by an amulet he wears; the long-lost brothers who don’t know they’re related and are at daggers drawn, partly because both love the same woman… fortunately, though, The Vikings is more than just a precursor to so many Hindi films. It’s also a very watchable film, with superb cinematography and a general air of having been made much, much later than it actually was.
A friend was talking about Douglas Sirk and Rock Hudson the other day. Rummaging through my pile of films at home, I couldn’t find any Douglas Sirk, but Ice Station Zebra, directed by John Sturges and with Rock Hudson heading an all-male cast, was around. I’d heard of this Cold War film (though I still haven’t read the Alistair Maclean novel on which it was based), and Rock Hudson was adequate—and looked good. So Ice Station Zebra it was.