The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) Script

Mr Moran, we going to be on time in Benghazi?

I don't see why not, Gabriele.

I'll ask Captain Towns to make a special point of it.

'1350. Radio out of service.

'Voltage regulators inoperative.

'Holding course for Benghazi.'

Thanks, Mike. I'll let you have them back.

How's it going up there? Lousy.

Never yet taken off in one of Arabco's old tubs without something being wrong.

This time we've got faulty regulators and a duff radio.

Yeah, well, don't let that hold you up, mate. I've got two months' leave coming in.

It's not the company's time we're flying on.

Radios are no good anyway. I got a radio.

Record players are nice, though. Reliable.

Thank you, Doctor.

Cigarette? No, thank you.

It's good of you oil people to give the Army a lift.

Not at all.

That's not much good, is it, Sergeant? Stow it away with the cargo.

Oh, I meant to tell you, the number four control pulley on the starboard side seems a bit noisy.

Perhaps binding a bit. I don't know, I couldn't see properly.

I don't feel it up here.

I'd better have a look.

Hand me the flashlight.

Are you ready for another flying lesson? Haven't recovered from the last one yet.

Oh, now, I got her all trimmed up for you.

Just hold her straight.

Straight and level, two-zero degrees. Here, I'll take that.

Straight. Now, don't over-control it. Don't sway it.

Thank you very much.

I say, don't leave me holding this thing forever, will you?

Hi, skipper.

How are you?

Hey, Mr Bill. Here, try this.

It's real good for you.

One drink, the girl comes out of the picture and bites you.

Hey, skipper, you want some ouzo?

Make you fly real good. No thanks, son. I'm driving.

I reckon I deserve this. Listening to that wog music has given me a headache.

The pulley's all right. Squeaking a little, that's all.

How are you getting along with your work? Magnificently.

But I think someone up there knows that I'm flying this thing.

That's quite a respectable sandstorm he's sending our way.

Yep, I've seen it.

So much for your weather report.

Let's have a look at that chart.

If this thing closes in on us... This old bird will need a coat of paint.

What alternate did you nominate? El Aouzzad.

Three stinking mud huts and a poison well. That's not a place, that's a disease.

Oh, now, Lew, don't worry.

We're not about to start turning to alternates just yet.

We're bigger than a little local sandstorm.

Old Auntie at traffic management's gonna have kittens.

A pilot is supposed to use his own judgement, don't you think?

Gee, 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.

Well, I can 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.

You don't think perhaps we should...? Head for the alternate?

You'd better take a look out the window. We're being followed.

There goes our alternate.

That stuff up ahead looks like it's rising.

We'd better find out just how high it does go.

I must say, without a radio, I would have expected them to turn for the alternate airport by now.

Wouldn't you?

I don't know you, do I, boy? Are you from the oil field?

My brother is there. Dorfmann.

I went to visit him on my holiday.

You went to visit your brother in Jebel? Yes.

He's chief analytical geophysicist for the Arabco Oil Company.

That pilot...

I would have thought he was a little elderly to be flying without a co-pilot.

Wouldn't you?

That sand's a bastard, you know that?

A real bastard.

Hey, Standish.

Not while the train's in the station, eh?

It's not gonna let up, Frank.

There she goes.

Are we gonna put her down?

That right engine didn't make it, the other one probably won't either.

We're gonna have to put her down before this one quits, too.

Can you get any lift out of her at all?

Well, maybe enough to hop over a few sand dunes.

I'm gonna have to make it on the first try, if that's what you mean.

We going in with our wheels down?

I'd give anything not to, but we'll never get up again if I don't.

No, I suppose not.

What's happening? What is it?

The lights are shorting out. It's gonna start a fire.

The cargo!

It's breaking apart!

Oh, no!



Come on, come on. Get a flashlight.

Let me out of here. Come on, run. Run!

It's gonna blow! Get away from the plane!



Harris, keep those guys together. She won't burn now.

Get them back there under the wing before we lose somebody.

Lew, see if you can get the emergency lighting system...

There are three trapped in the back. Three trapped in the back!

Dr Renaud!

Dr Renaud!

Dr Renaud!

Come on. Come on!

Careful. All together now. Easy.

Here it comes.

The leg is entirely crushed.

See if you can find my bag. What about the other two back here?

They've had it. They've what?



What are we gonna do now?

Do you want to say something?

Like what? "Sorry"?

There. Make it secure, will you?

Captain, don't you think it's time we started getting things organised all round?

Yes, I think you're right.

I'll get Sergeant Watson to make up some containers for flares.

We'll need some of your fuel. Leave that to Moran.

Maybe you'd better check on our water supply and figure up some kind of rationing.

How much longer do you estimate we'll have to be here?

I mean, I take it there will be an air search before long.


Yes, well, we're not due in Benghazi till... well, now.

He's a right little organiser, your captain, isn't he?

Yeah, they're all the same.

Toffee-nosed bunch of gits.

You shouldn't have joined, should you?

I never did.

I was what they call a boy soldier. Me dad joined me.

Did he? Attendant at the public baths, he was.

November 21st, 1934.

Me mum made me a sponge cake for me birthday tea.

Next morning the old man walked me down our street straight into the barracks.

"You'll be all right," he said. "You'll like it. I know you will."

1934, eh?

You didn't have to join for bleeding life, did you?

I don't know.

One thing leads to another, doesn't it?

Hey, Fritz!

Give us the loan of your book when you're finished, will you?

I don't think you'll find it interesting.

Oh, incidentally...

My name is Dorfmann, Heinrich Dorfmann.

Go on. Is it really?


Hey, Sergeant, his name's Dorfmann. Heinrich Dorfmann.

What's the matter, Doc? Nothing, Mr Cobb. Nothing.

How are you feeling today? All right.

What do you care? Anyway, why ask me?

You got it all written down in that little black book, haven't you?

No, no. I have nothing written down, Mr Cobb. Nothing.


Then why don't you show it to me, huh? Any time you wish.

Right now, though, I have to have a look at Gabriele.

What a crummy quack.

They're all alike, huh? Huh?

'1600 hours. March 17th.'


What about my wife, Doctor?

No, don't think about it now. She'll be all right. She'll be fine.

Do you have any kind of liquor on board?

Well, there's still some morphine left. Wouldn't that be better?


I would like to save it for when the pain gets worse.


'Cause of crash: pilot error.'

Is it all right if we issue the water ration now, Mr Towns?

Sure, go ahead.

Work something out? Yes, I think so.

Could I have your attention, please?

We have something important to say concerning our water supply.

Now, there is just under a full measure for each of us here.

And Dr Renaud informs me that we shall require, as an absolute minimum, one pint of water per person per day. Is that right, Doctor?

Yes, that's right.

Now, on the basis of the 15 gallons in the emergency tank, that gives us roughly 10 to 11 days.

That is, of course, if we just sit here and don't exert ourselves in any way.

Hey, Lightning, do you hear that?

You're not to wear yourself out.

As we are somewhat off our original course, and unless we are certain of being picked up, I think we ought to make do with the absolute minimum.

Is that understood? Hear, hear.

Hear, hear. Hear, hear.

Yeah. All right, Mr Towns?

Sounds reasonable.

If we have enough water for all that time, couldn't we set aside just a little bit for washing?

Washing? What a dumb thing.

Hey, Captain. What are we supposed to do for grub?

I reckon we ought to eat the monkey, don't you?

As far as food is concerned, we seem to be singularly fortunate.

There happens to be an almost unlimited supply of pressed dates on board.

Pressed dates? All they're good for is regularity.

Yes, I quite agree.

They were being sent back from Jebel because nobody would eat them.

Yes, I think that's about all.

That's about all? That's enough, isn't it?

Thank you.

Excuse me, Mr Towns, but shouldn't some kind of rescue plane have seen us by now?

Now, don't worry.

Someone will be along even before you have time to think about lunch.

Our accounts people will be waiting for my report on the Jebel operation before they can get started on the annual figures.

How big a hole will a busted-up sky truck make in your annual figures, Mr Standish?

Well, there will be insurance, but... insurance companies move in mysterious ways.

Like God, of course, but not half as generous.

It's bound to be a setback. I imagine it will be.

Anyway, you don't have to worry. They'll be here.

Oh, thank you.

It will work very well.

The captain says our chances are good.

A bit optimistic, aren't you? I don't think so.

Well, being 130 miles off-course isn't exactly going to help.

It's not gonna stop them either.

Music while you work, eh?

It's mine. I bought it.

Did it ever occur to you we could use this thing to find out what's happening?

Nobody told...

He did say something about it, Frank. It's my fault. I should have...

It's mine.

What's the matter with this thing?

Look at Heinrich, will you?

Hey, shut that damn thing off!

What are you trying to prove?

I'm trying to remain reasonably clean.

You think this is some kind of a picnic?

That's just a local station relaying a political broadcast.

I don't think you'll find any station we want until nightfall.

Doctor, what was that chap talking about, anyway?

Water conservation and a five-year plan for irrigation.

A fat lot of use that is.

What this country needs is a few more pubs.

Fold it up. Get this stuff furled.

Tie it on so it won't blow away.

Get that line.

Give a hand. Pull, man.

This darn wind's too much. Hold it, hold it.

Don't let it get away.

Close it up! Come on!

Close it up! OK, now, get aboard.

Push. Push.

Get in there, lock it up!

Here it comes!

Get inside. Come on!

Let's get the door closed.

How are you feeling?

Better have some more of this.

Come on. Up you come.

I think you like this better than I do.

That's all right. As a matter of fact, I've given it up.

How's he doing?

Oh, he's fine. We'll have him back with his wife in no time.

But maybe too late.

No, no, you can't tell. Perhaps she'll be better by the time you get there.

No, she would never send a cable.

My wife is a very modest person.

She'd send a cable only if it were something bad.

Now, don't you worry. We'll get you out of here.

He's right, Gabriele.

Do that.

The sandstorm will make it more difficult, won't it?

What, finding us? No, simplify things no end, old chap.

They'll just bloody well give up. You're not frightened, are you?

You don't want to be despondent, old man, you know?

Wait till the water runs out, then you can really start laughing.

They wouldn't really just give up looking, would they?


Don't you worry, me old duck, they'll find us.

Trouble is, we'll all be dead.

# No end at all, no sad goodbyes

# No fears, no tears

# No love that dies

# It's senza fine

# Let it always be senza fine

# Never-ending, the sunlit days the moonlit nights

# The sea, the sand, the starry heights

# Are yours and mine

# Forever

# Non m'importa Della Luna

# Non m'importa... #

Give that to the boy for a little while. To the boy.

# Tu per me sei Luna e stelle

# Tu per me sei sole e cielo

# Tu per me sei tutto quanto... #

Grazie. Thank you.

# Tutto quanto

# Voglio avere

# Senza fine, Tu sei un attimo

# Senza fine

# Non hai ieri, non hai domani

# Tutto è ormai nelle Tue Mani

# Mani grandi

# Mani senza fine #

'I told our friend Standish we wouldn't even have time to think about lunch.

'That was three days ago.

'This is our fifth day.

'Most of them still believe it's only a matter of time before we're picked up.

'I wish I could be sure of that.'

This heat is intolerable.

You should come here in the summer.

It's lovely.

Hey, Sarge, look at this!

Hey, Abdul!

They went that way.


Your mates went flashing through here on a herd of camels about an hour ago.

Can they see us?

There it is. Where?

Yeah, I see it. Up there!

Hey! Down here!

Down here!


Down here!

Come on! Come back!

Hey! Get down here!

Here we are! Down here!

Come on! Hey! Hey!

Hey! Come on!

Come on down here! Come down!

Come on! Come back here!

It's pretty high. Probably about 30,000.

More like 35.

Couldn't be the airlines, not in this area.

I don't think they could see us even if they were looking for us.

Hey! Come on!

No, I suppose not.

Hey! All right, come on now, forget it.

You're wasting time, they didn't see us. Bloody pilots.

All them flares do is make a lousy stink.

Might as well quit using them.

Then there'll be nothing. Nobody could find us.

That's right, Standish. Nobody will.

It's time we tried to march out of here.


You've heard the others.

You know what they're thinking?

It's five days, we've had two sandstorms...

We're not sure they're even looking for us anymore.

They're looking.

Nevertheless, if we're 100 miles off-course...

Which way were you thinking of marching, Captain?

What is our nearest water point?

You said you could show me on your charts.

Well, yes, I can do that.

Tell me, though, how many were you thinking of taking with you?

Apart from Sergeant Watson, I don't know yet.

Well, perhaps now's the time to find out.

Yes, perhaps it is.

He can't walk out of here.

No, of course he can't, but... I suppose he's entitled to try.

He's not entitled to kill himself. Oh, don't worry, Frank.

I don't think he's anything like aware of the problems involved.

I'll get the maps.

Gentlemen, I made a decision and I'd like you all to hear about it.

Now, I intend marching out of here.

The plan is to travel at night when it's cool and then rest as best we can during the day.

We leave at sundown this evening.

Sergeant Watson, would you come here, please?

I'll take Sergeant Watson and anybody else who wants to come with me.

If there's any volunteers, give me your names and we'll start making the necessary preparations.

Captain Harris?

You wanted to know our position.

If you'd like to come over here, I'll show you.

Now, gentlemen, we're in the middle of this circle which runs through the three nearest water points.

That's Marada in the north, Tazerbo in the east and Namous in the south.

Er, Marada is 106.

Say, London to Birmingham.

Except that Marada's not a city, it's just a flea-bitten waterhole with some borax quarries, an oil well and a few lousy palm trees.

Well, that's our objective then, Marada.

Say, Captain...

You done much marching in desert terrain?

On exercises and that sort of thing. How far?

Ten or 15 miles. Full equipment, of course.

Plenty of water, I suppose? Sufficient.

Look, I don't know what your practical navigation's like, mine's not bad.

But I wouldn't march 10 paces from here.

In the daytime, it's hitting 120 in the shade.

And out there, there is no shade.

If you could take as much as four pints a day with you, you'd still be sweating 10.

We intend marching by night.

Fine, well, precisely in what direction?

There are compasses, you know. That's fine.

That's just fine. Someday I'll have you tell me just what your compass was reading as you passed the Jebel Haroudj Mountains.

They're mostly magnetic rock and that sort of makes nonsense out of the compass to start out with.

One can navigate by the stars.

But if you marched 106 miles by the stars and your calculations were just one percent out, you could pass the Eiffel Tower in daylight and never even see it.

Look where Marada is. There's absolutely n-n-noth...

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

If you miss this glorious little bunch of trees, there's n-nothing between you and the coast, and that's 500 miles.

Well, nobody's suggesting that it was easy, Mr Moran.

Tell me this, Captain, are you right-handed?

Yes, as a matter of fact. Why? Well, that means that your right leg is more developed than the other one and takes a longer step.

So, if you have an unreliable compass, it means that you just go around in a left-handed circle like that and there's nothing you can do about it.


You're right, Mr Towns, but you're talking about right-handed civilians.

You must know that in an officer's training corps, we military men are taught to march with absolute precision.

I might even send Sergeant Watson here on ahead.

As it happens, he's left-handed.

Now, if you'll excuse me.

Come along, Sergeant.

There's nothing you can do, Frank. He goes by the book.

And you can't re-write it for him. No.


I've been examining this aeroplane. You have?


We have everything here that we need to build a new one and fly it out.

Now, if you would like to have a look at my calculations...

I don't know if you can read my handwriting. Are you trying to be funny?

What did you say? I said, are you trying to be funny?

That is precisely the reaction I would have expected from a man of your obvious limitations.

What's happening to everybody?

Here. Here, you can have this.

And here you are, Ratbags. I won't be needing this anymore.

I won't be needing this either.

Hey, you don't have a coat, do you?

Here, take mine. I won't be needing it anymore.

I don't think I should.

Why, what's wrong with it? That's a good coat.

Cost me 50 bucks in Marseilles. It'd cost more than 100 in the States.

If you really want me to... Oh, sure.

I gave the radio to the boy.

I won't be needing it anymore. I'm going with Captain Harris.

Hey, I got something for you fellas, too.

I got a lot of work shirts I picked up cheap in Genoa.

They're good work shirts. I only washed them once or twice.


Don't you know better than to tell Cobb he could go with you?

How far do you think...? The man's crazy. He wouldn't last a day out there.

Cobb? I haven't even spoken to him.

He seems to think he's going with you.

Does he? Well, I'll have to disillusion him.

No, no, wait a minute, wait a minute. Just let it alone for a while.

Incidentally, I appreciate your concern about me going, but I want you to know I'm doing it all off my own bat.

It may be a gamble, but it can only increase your chances of being picked up.

Come on, Sergeant.

What's happened, Sergeant? Must have twisted it, sir.

Let's get him over here.

Just tripped in the doorway, sir.

Must have caught it on something.

It seems there is nothing broken.

Perhaps you just sprained it.

Sorry we have no ice.

Looks as if you're for the sick parade, Sergeant.

Just my luck, eh, sir?

I suppose I'd only be a burden to you.

Well, it can't be helped now.

Perhaps, if I... if I could rest it tonight, I'd be all right tomorrow.

I'm afraid we haven't time.

Don't you worry about it, Sergeant.

Yes, sir.

What do you mean, "don't worry"?

You don't think for a minute you're going out there on your own?

Oh, no. No, he's not.

He's not gonna go alone. I'm going with him.

Isn't that right, Captain? I'm afraid not, old chap.

But I just told you. I just told you I was going.

You're in no condition to come with me.

Sorry, but I think it's better that you stay here.

Why, I told you I was going! I told you! I told you!

Take it easy, Cobb. Come on. I told you!

Let me go! Easy, Cobb.

Let me go! Easy, Cobb, easy. Easy.

We don't want to hurt you.

I told you!

We'll all end up like him, I'm betting.

Leave him now, Captain. I'll talk to him later.


Thank you.

That an oil journal you're reading? No.

You're not in this line, then?


Well, yes. I mean drilling. Oil.

No, I'm a designer.

Oh, really? What, furniture, that sort of thing?

No, Mr Moran, aeroplanes.

I'm an aircraft designer.

Are you?

Then you really meant what you said about getting this thing out of here.

Did you think I was joking, perhaps?

No, Mr Dorfmann.

That I didn't think.

You always have to spoil things for me, don't you?

What did you have to tell the captain I couldn't go along for, huh?

I didn't tell the captain anything. Yeah.

Well, you're the one had me fired in Jebel, though, wasn't it?

Chief rigger, in charge of seven guys.

You think I couldn't handle a crummy job like that?

All I had to do was hold onto this lousy job for another six months.

I could have gone back to the States as a chief.

But, no. Oh, no. You had to spoil it for me.

Well, you still could go back. Yeah...

To what? They ain't gonna let no headcase run a drilling operation.

Nobody's describing you as a headcase, Mr Cobb.

That's what I came to tell you.

Now, you really must try to understand that fatigue mentale, I mean, mental exhaustion can happen to anyone.

But it doesn't last.

Well, I don't understand all those fancy words.

I don't think those guys that do the hiring do either.

Well, possibly not, but it will pass.

It will pass, I assure you.

I tell you now, mate, we're better off right here than traipsing off on that bloody desert.

Do you think you can look after Chucho for a few days?

I'm gonna go along with Captain Harris.

Well, well, yeah. But... What's the matter with you?

I thought you were saving him for some snotty-nosed Mexican kid.

Sure, but don't be jealous, Ratbags.

Maybe one day I find a present for you, too.

What's this "jaloose"? Can't you learn to speak English?

Hey, why would you want to go walking off into that?

Didn't you see enough of that in Jebel? Who knows, Mike?

Maybe after a few days walking we'll be better off than you are.

It's all right, Chucho. It's all right, Chucho.

I will be back. It's all right, Chucho. Easy, easy, easy.

Adiós, Chucho.

You must be bloody daft, mate.

Anyway, maybe Capitan Harris can teach me to speak real good English like you, my little Ratbags.

Stupid sod.

Thank you, mate.

Good, you all set? Yes, sir.

Welcome aboard.

I'm not as confident that we won't make it as you seem to be, but I'd be grateful if you'd send up some smoke at midday for the next three days.

Might help us to help keep our bearings. Three days?

Yes, we won't need it after that.


Well, Captain, we all wish you every...

Well, you know how all of us feel, so...

Yes, well, come along.

It'll be getting dark soon. We might get lost.

Hey, Babozo, slow down.

Remember you got flat feet.

Adiós, little Ratbags.

He's gone!

He's gone!

He's gone.

Cobb's gone.

I don't understand.

Can they see him from up there or can't they?

Of course not, he's just looking at the view.

Haven't you been up there? It's lovely.

There's a big lake on the other side. They got speedboats, everything.

Frank, he's got six hours' start on you.

How far do you think he could get without water?

He didn't even stop to take a canteen.

And it's my fault. I should have watched him.

Even if you find him, what can you do?

What can we do?

You'll be just as badly off as Harris would be.

I'm gonna bring him back, Lew.

You will see we have all we need:

Welding torches, steel cable, all the tools we would need.

For example, this here, it all looks quite adequate.

Why were they being returned?

Well, you know what engineers are like. They just love shiny new tools, especially if someone else is paying for them.

The prototype I have in mind would have to fly at the first attempt.

To achieve that, Mr Moran, requires a pilot of quite outstanding capabilities.

Granted, this may not be the best possible advertisement, but Frank Towns is probably one of the few really great pilots left in this push-button world of yours.

Oh, really? Yes, oh, really!

He was flying by the seat of his pants in planes that were n-nothing more than bits and pieces before you went to school.

That is precisely what is wrong.

He's remembered everything and learned nothing.

However, since...

Since he apparently finds it necessary to run off into the desert in pursuit of a lunatic who could be of no practical value to this project, the question is entirely academic.

Don't you think so, Mr Moran?

I agree.

Entirely academic.

Get away! Get out of here! Get out of here!

Get out! Get out!

What is it? What's the matter? It's three minutes after 12.

Don't you want to start the signals for Captain Harris?

And your Captain Towns?

Get out if it, you stinker!

It's Frank!

Hey, skipper! Someone get some water.

I'll get it.


What happened to Cobb?

You all right?

We're stuck here, Lew. You know that, don't you?

Frank, I talked to Dorfmann again. I... I...

I realise that he... That he, you know, irritates you.

But I do think he knows more than we give him credit for.

Well, what's he dreamed up now?

Well, maybe he hasn't a leg to stand on, I don't know, but you're the only person who's even remotely qualified to tell him so and all I'm asking you to do is to... is to talk to him.

Well, just talk to him.

All right, I'll talk to him, Lew.

If it makes you happy, I'll talk to him.

There's no component problem.

The port boom is undamaged and so are all the portside components.

If we remove the starboard wing and attach it to the port boom and perform a similar operation on the tail plane, you'll see that we'll have the basis of an entirely new and aerodynamically sound structure.

Is that understood? Oh, absolutely.

We need only to clear the port engine of the sand that choked it in flight.

The Coffman starter is serviceable and we should have no difficulty starting up the engine.

If we don't waste too much fuel on signals to Captain Harris who's unlikely to be in any condition to benefit from them, we shall have enough of that as well.

Most of the hydraulic fluid has leaked away, but I've worked out direct rod and cable controls, so that is no problem.

All right, now, what are you going to use for an undercarriage?

Our last landing rendered the undercarriage unserviceable.

However, there is enough H-section in the cargo monorail and hull longerons to make up the skid cradle for take-off.

Skid cradle? Well, er...

Skis, Mr Moran. Skis.

In order to take off, we shall have to move the final structure to the valley beyond that far dune.

The surface there should be adequate.

Now, as to whether it will fly, as far as the general design factors are concerned, there are no special problems.

The centre of gravity will allow us to distribute the payload, that means ourselves, on both wings.

Now, wait a minute.

Are you suggesting we string people on top of that wing like sacks of potatoes?

They'll be behind fairings, of course.

Never mind about the fairings! We got an injured man in there.

The doctor says he can't even be moved.

You're suggesting we tack him onto this thing and bounce him around like a wrangler in a rodeo?

That is not what I had in mind, Mr Towns.

With the material and personnel available, this project would require at least 12 days.

How long did you say Mr Scarnati might be expected to live?

Six days?

Perhaps less.

See, the problem does not even arise. Mr Scarnati will remain here.

Why, you really are a miserable...

Even with the men on them, the wing loading is going to be half that of the sky truck, because we shall leave the hull, starboard boom, undercarriage, chanson and so on on the ground.

Now, any more questions?

Yeah! Yeah, I have a few.

Now, let's see if I've got this straight.

You're just gonna unzip that starboard wing and lift it up all the way over from the other side and tag it onto this port boom. Is that correct?

Well, yes. The tapers will be of course the wrong way, but...

The tapers? Forget about the tapers! You know what that wing weighs?

I would estimate it at something just over a ton.

That's just about right. Now, there are eight of us.

Do you think you can lift 250 pounds, Mr Dorfmann?

We use wedges and levers, Mr Towns.

There is also a winch and we can construct an A-frame.

All right, we'll have levers and wedges and we'll throw in a winch.

Look, this bunch is living on pressed dates with a sip of water every once in a while.

In a couple days from now, nobody's gonna have the strength to do anything around here.

That is a very good point.

The heavy work will need to be done first. The wing will have to be moved tonight.

Tonight? Yes.

I've worked out a simple winding gear for use with the starboard generator which will keep the batteries charged and provide adequate lighting.

I see no other immediate problems.

Unless you have some more questions, I still have some calculations to make.

I thought it was all cut and dried.

You mean you have a few little things you haven't figured out yet, huh?

Well, naturally I discontinued my work when you decided to embark on your romantic search for Mr Cobb.

We do need a pilot on this project, Mr Towns, and frankly, I considered your chances of survival quite remote.

However, now that you are with us again, I can complete my calculations.

I see no insoluble problems.

Well, I'll give you one.

You say building this thing of yours will take 12 days. Well, that's just fine.

If we're real lucky, we just have enough water to last another 10.

We have several gallons of antifreeze.

We can distil enough to provide for another four or five days.

But certainly I agree water will be a critical factor.

So, maybe we'll be dead before you finish this thing of yours and maybe we won't, but that's what you'd call a critical factor.

Now, let me tell you something that makes nonsense out of this whole thing.

Please do. And I'm not gonna give you the old veteran flyer routine, Mr Dorfmann.

But I just want you to know that I've been flying for quite some time now and it hasn't always been for crummy outfits like this one.

I'm sure you've had a very colourful career, Mr Towns, but that's not quite the point.

All right, you know a whole lot more than I do about aerodynamics and drag coefficients and stress factors. OK, OK. Your theory's fine.

But you get this, mister:

That engine's rated at 2,000 horsepower and if I was ever fool enough to let it get started, it'd shake your patched-up pile of junk into 1,000 pieces and cut us up into mincemeat with the propeller.

I told you there'd be no difficulty 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!

What did he expect? Shh...

Easy, easy. What did you...?

You want me to throw a conniption fit with those drawings of his?

Say he's a genius or something?

What good would that do when I know the damn thing could never fly?

Excuse me, Captain, but perhaps...

Perhaps there is one other thing.

The way it is now, some of these men may not last as long as the water.

But they need to believe that there is hope for them.

I don't know, Mr Towns, but maybe to build a thing like this could be a lot of help.

So, we prove it can't fly and get killed in the process, is that it?

What're you giving us, Doc?

This is hard work. These men can't stand hard work.

Watching each other die could be even harder.

I've lost five men, Lew.

Gabriele in there, he's on the way. That'll be six.

Are you...? Are you asking me to kill the rest of them trying to get a death-trap off the ground?

I don't know.

I don't know, Lew. It won't work.

It just can't work.

All right, maybe it can't.

Maybe it can't and we'll all be killed.

But if there's just one chance in a thousand that he has got something, boy, I'd rather take it than just sit around here waiting to die.

You there, Mr Crow.

We'll need those panels again. You must be more careful.

All right, Heinrich, I'll watch it.

Oh, he's a lovely little fella, a little ray of sunshine.

A slow, steady turn is quite sufficient.

You'll be relieved in about half an hour.

Don't let that needle drop below eighty.

That one there.

Eighty, huh? That's right.

Now, we pull on three.

One, two, three.

Shift, you wee mother...

Hey, Bellamy!

You big horse! Come on up here and give me a hand, will you?

Hang on, little Ratbags. I'm coming.

My hand's tough enough.

You want me to leave this in place, Frank?

Ask Mr Dorfmann.

Leave both of the bolts in place until the trestle is ready to take the weight.

As soon as you have finished that...

Mr Moran!

Once you have finished that, would you please come to the tail end.

I'll mark out the assembly for you.

Hey. Hey.

Hey, what are you building, sandcastles?

Hashish, huh? Hubbly-bubbly.


What's it for? Come on. Eh?

I'm constructing a still.

The sand will prevent the tube from fracturing when I bend it.

That's very cunning.

Sometimes I wonder how you chaps never won the war.

War? You know...

I wasn't involved.

That's it, then.

That's why they never won.

They didn't have old Heinrich.

Oh, no, no, no, no! No, no! We won't need that second winch now.

Go around and get that cable over the apron.

We've got enough rope?

Go on then! Don't keep Uncle Heinrich waiting.

Double up. Double, double, double.

Mr Watson? Don't forget, save those bolts.

Very good.

We need a spanner.


Have you got a 3/8 spanner, darling?

Thank you, dear. Give us a big, wet kiss, will you?

Look, knock it off, mate.

All right, everything's set.

Easy now.

There, that's it.

Come on. Come on, that's it. Watch your step.

Are we ready, Mr Towns?

Yeah, I guess so. All right.

Let's commence. Now!

Keep the pressure up. That's it.

Come on, come on. Come on, now.

All right, a little slower.

Easy now.

Don't let her loosen up!


Come on, pull harder, come on.

Hold it. Hold it there!



Oh, Lord, I'm tired.



Well, Sergeant...

You've been holding the fort?

Yes, sir.

This is full of sand.

Clean it out for me like a good chap?

Yes, sir.

'We've worked at it two nights now, 'but Dorfmann's brainchild looks less like an aeroplane

'than it did when we started.

'It's almost midday and he's still working.

'He's right about one thing, though.

'The little men with the slide rules and computers are going to inherit the Earth.

'And it's kind of sad that Dorfmann won't be there to see it.

'But then, I... I guess he doesn't need to see it.

'He already knows it.'

Here. Here, is that any better?

I'll try it.

Mr Standish...

You can continue with the cutting of the tail surfaces.

The tools are still in the hull.

Hey, Standish!

Watch your diet. You don't have to eat all those dates.

Save some for the scum up here, will you?

Your wife's a lovely girl.

She died.

But you can't know that.

You there, we need help with the welding.

All right. We're coming, men.

It's getting cold up here, anyway.

Sisters of mercy!

Your brother will play the violin again.

Did you, erm...?

Did you say something to Captain Harris?

Now, what would I have said to Captain Harris?

Oh, I don't know. He's acting very funny.

Yeah, yeah.

In here!

In here!


We're ready to proceed.

Come along. It's quite essential to maintain our schedule.

Oh, I reckon we've been flogging a dead horse long enough.

Well, of course you're right, but couldn't we just rest for another hour and then...

Absolutely not!

Come on, let's get... Now, now, before we start talking about who's gonna work and when, let me tell you something.

Somebody's been stealing water out of this tank.

Stealing the water? What do you mean?

Who in the hell would do a thing like that?

Skipper, you sure?

Damn! How much is gone? I started checking on it yesterday.

How do you like that?

Now, I don't even want to know who it is, but I'm telling you this.

If it happens again and I see who's doing it, I'll kill him.

It was me.

It was you?

Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!

You... bloody fool.

In any case, I didn't steal it. I took it.

You took it?

The people here could die for lack of water and you took it?


Yes, because whilst you people have been sleeping or pursuing your own ridiculous little interests, I have been working.

And since I was working harder than you were, I also needed more water than you did.

However, it won't happen again, because from now on we shall all work equally hard.

Is it clear now? No, it isn't.

But maybe I'm an idiot. Maybe you'll have to explain it to me.

If you think being some kind of a boy wonder entitles you to other people's water, you've got another think coming. Why did you have to steal it?

Why didn't you just come and ask me for it?

Because you wouldn't have given me any.

You're damn right I wouldn't!

Now, listen, if you're coming up here to tell me I shouldn't be unkind to that miserable Kraut, you're wasting your breath.

Now, don't tell me you don't think he's crazy.

Well, suppose we agree he's as mad as a hatter.

Do you think the rest of us aren't?

Do you think you've been behaving rationally?

Do you really think anyone would?

All right, maybe not, but he isn't even concerned about getting out of here.

All he wants to do is to see that thing fly.

He doesn't care who gets killed in the process.

Well, now... Well, nothing!

I've done my share of killing.

My score is five now. What does he want to do, improve on that?

So, we're back to that, are we? Yes...

You know, I don't believe you're really all that concerned about those five men.

No, I'm laughing myself sick. No, you're not laughing either.

What really gets you is the idea that maybe you're wrong.

And maybe that little, er... little, er... dried-up calculating machine down there really does kn-know the answers.

And maybe Frank Towns, who's flown every crate they've ever built and who could fly in and out of a tennis court if he had to, maybe that great hellful of trailblazer's nothing more than a back number now.

And maybe men like Dorfmann can build machines that can do Frank Towns' job for him. And do it better.

You're getting to be quite a little philosopher, aren't you?

All right.

Let's suppose you have killed five men.

And if it gives you any sort of satisfaction to sit up here feeling sorry for yourself, well, that's your... That's fine!

But if you really mean that it is all your fault, then it's up to you to bloody well get us out of here, isn't it?

And if you're not too proud to talk to Dorfmann, and you're half the pilot you think you are, well, maybe you will!

"If"! All right.

If you hadn't made a career out of being a drunk, you might not have been a second-rate navigator in a fifth-rate outfit.

And if you hadn't stayed in your bunk to kill that last bottle, you might have checked that engineer's report on the radio, and we might not be here. All right?

Oh, Lew, I...

Oh, Lew.

Why the hell isn't anyone on the generator?

What's the point?

Come on, you drunken bum. Let's get back to work.

Don't worry. It'll be cut in time.

Do you think the Wright Brothers would approve?

I can't see why not.

It's all free and clear up here, Heinrich.

What's the drill, Mr Dorfmann?

You're not yet ready for heavy work.

I'd like to do something.

We could use Dr Renaud down here.

Perhaps you could relieve him at the generator.

Now, how about that?

Heinrich Schweitzer.

It's all set.

I think we are read... I think we are ready to proceed.

All right?


We did it! That's it!

Are we all ready?

Let's go!

Hold it, stop!

All right. Well done, Watson.

All right, now, everybody pull together.

Keep pulling. Keep going.

Keep pulling, boys.

Coming fine now.

Keep it going. Keep it going. That's it.

Don't let up with the slack.

Now, it's coming fine. Just fine.

Hold it!

Hold it!

Take it easy... now. It's nearly there. Nearly.

Hold it!

I've got a story for the Daily Mirror when I get back.

"How I stopped smoking in three days."

Here, hold it.

You've done a wonderful job, Heinrich.

But will it fly?

Oh, come on, will you? Let's finish it.

It's all set up there.

You know, it's... it's really beginning to look like something.

Don't worry, Mr Towns.

Helicopters don't look very elegant either, but they fly reasonably well.

Really looks pretty good.

You suppose if we get out of here we're gonna have extra leave coming?

From Arabco Oil?

We'll be lucky they don't take this off our two months.

Tell you what though, if ever we do get out of here alive and I get my leave, I'm going to stay put in Benghazi and fix myself up with one of them Arab bints.

That's not all you'll fix yourself up with in Benghazi. I've been there, mate.

No, straight up.

This place I was at last year, there's this bint.

Farida or something.

She did a sort of a dance.

You should have seen it.

I've woken up a few nights in a cold sweat thinking about it, I can tell you.

Probably some poxed-up old bag from Manchester.

Is it right?

What's the point of that?

Oh, I don't know.

I just thought I'd give it a name.

What sort of a name is that supposed to be?

It's a bird.

The phoenix was a mythical bird that burnt itself to ashes and rose...

I'm not bloody stupid, you know.

What's the matter, Captain? Smell the sea?

He's staggering around Benghazi, you know, with this ugly, ugly broad.

Boxed out of his mind with Kickapoo joy juice or hashish or something or other.

I've never seen anyone...

Kickapoo joy juice... Shh. Hey! Hey! Hey! Shh!

What's wrong with him?

Get Mr Towns.

Eleven... I count twelve.

They are way off any route. Yes.

Probably a razzia raiding party.

Better go and tell the men. We don't want to rush into anything.

Tell Mr Towns to come up here.

I already have.

There! Up there!


I'm sorry. That's all I know.

But I don't get it. They've got camels. They could take us out of here.

If they are a raiding party, they're outcasts from their own tribe and so far beyond the law that killing a few people like us wouldn't mean a thing.

They are, in all probability, lost.

And just as short of water as we are.

They can only cause difficulties.

If we leave them alone they'll move on and we can get back to work.

But why don't we just talk to them? We can do that, can't we?

They sound friendly enough.

I wouldn't count on it. No.

But we have to find out.

This time I'll go with you.

They're staying put.

Now, I'll take Sgt. Watson with me and we'll go and tell...

Now, wait a minute. I've already told you that I'd be going.

What's the sense of these chaps building this contraption if you're not here to drive it?

He's right, Frank. Nobody's going to drive this fool thing.


Don't let's have an argument.

It's sublimely unimportant to me who goes out, but I think the Sergeant and I have the best chance.

Now, at first we'll tell them there's only two of us.

We'll approach them in a circle, so if they do prove to be unfriendly, they won't double back and find you.

I think the uniform might do the trick.

Where's the Sergeant? He went in the hull.


Makes sense, Frank.

Here you are, Sergeant. Ready?

What's the trouble, Sergeant? Nothing. No trouble, sir.

Come along, then.

I'm not going.

What was that? I'm not going!

Sergeant, I don't think you've quite understood.

I'm giving you an order. You are to come with me.

Now, look here, old chap.

There's only water for three more days. This thing they're building won't work.

It's up to you and I to go out to those Arabs and get them to help us.

Now, there's nothing to be afraid of.

I'm not afraid, Mr Harris.

Sergeant, I'm going to repeat my order.

If you refuse it, I shall have to assume that you're wilfully disobeying a superior officer.

Is that understood?

Don't let yourself down, Watson.

Report for duty and come with me.

You leave me no alternative but to place you under open arrest.

Give me that revolver.


You refuse?

Very well, Sergeant.

Mr Towns, I am going out on my own.

Now, I suggest that you don't light any fires and maintain absolute silence until I report back.

I'll keep them quiet, Captain, and there won't be any lights.

Right. I... I believe I go along with you.

Thank you, but that won't be necessary. Perhaps not, but I do speak a little Arabic. Do you?

Well, not enough, but these fellows will understand.

Well, maybe not as much as you might suppose.

Anyway, I'd like to go with you.

Merci. Allons-y.

I'm gonna wait another half-hour, then I'm going down there and have a look.

We can't just sit here. Look, Frank, Harris is n-no fool.

He... He may be a bit excessively British, but he's no fool.

If those people can be induced to help us, Harris will do it.

But I mean if the situation is a bit tricky down there and he's told them there are just the two of them, he can't suddenly announce there are seven more of us.

And if you and I go barging in, that'll really put the lid on it.

Yeah, maybe you're right.

I doubt it all the time.


Captain Towns! Captain Towns!

They've gone!

They've taken our fellows with them, but they left a camel or something.

I can't see properly up there.

Frank, there's no...

Come on, Lew, we'd better have a look.

Camel's lame.

That's why they left it, it's lame.

Give me the...

He's dead, isn't he?

Mr Towns and I will be in the fuselage itself.

The heaviest men will need to be inboard, the lighter men outside.

They'll, er... they'll lie flat, holding onto the ribs of the windscreen.

We testing this engine today?

Mr Dorfmann, it's time we tested this engine.

I think you can leave things to me, Mr Towns. No, wait. Wait a minute.

I'm not forgetting you're the designer, but if you want me to fly this thing...

"This thing"... This thing has a name.

It's called an aeroplane. All right, all right, it's an aeroplane.

I'd have a lot more respect for it if I knew the engine worked.

The engine was running perfectly until the sand blocked the carburettor jets in flight.

There is no reason why it shouldn't run as it did before.

Unless you haven't cleaned the jets properly, in which case I'd advise you to do it again.

Now listen, those sand screens are clear, and I've checked everything under that cowling pretty thoroughly.

And if I'm to fly this machine I'm gonna test run that engine today.

If... If we'd start this engine now, the vibration will put unnecessary strain on the whole structure.

Furthermore, there are only seven cartridges in the Coffman starter.

It could take four or five to start the engine, leaving us only with two or three when we are ready to depart.

I imagine even you will understand that once we have used all seven cartridges, we have no further means of starting this engine.

Any doubt about starting this engine, now is the time to find out.

Mr Towns...

You behave as if stupidity were a virtue. Why is that?

Lew, I'm gonna run up this engine.

A couple of you guys come up here and pull this prop through.

And that's an order.

No, you're not!

There's no point in going over it all again.

Look, I've got them working on the fairings, but we need you for the control groupings.

There's nothing down on paper.

It's all... it's all in your head.

I'd hate to spoil the job after all the work you've put in.

I... I know it's difficult for you to get on with Frank Towns, but you've got to understand.

He need...

He needs to feel he's doing something. You don't leave him anything.

Do you want yours now? Uh-huh.

You ought to come in, it's freezing out. Yeah, yeah.

Well, now I've really balled things up, haven't I?


Yeah, I've been thinking about this thing.

And I guess old Frank Towns just never could stand being told what to do.

That's all there is to it.

You know, funny thing...

He was right about the engine, too.

I guess I just wanted to make a point.

That's what really gets you about him.


He always has to be right.

You coming in? In a few minutes.

What else do you want me to say?


Leave me alone.

Tomorrow's the last day.

Then there'll only be what we get from the still.

And that's not enough to keep us all going.

Do you want them to fight over the water? Is that what you want?

If we don't go back to work, we're going to die.

All of us. Yes.

Well, for God's sake, man, you're not a child, are you?

Go away.

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!


Look, Lord Muck's woke up.

I want to talk to you.

No, I want to talk to all of you.

Mr Towns, who is in authority here?

You are.

Very well, then.

Since I am in authority, I have decided to finish this plane and make it fly.

We shall now go back to work.


The fairings are about ready, but you'll need to look at the control linkages.

I'll be with you right after this here.

Well, is this the outfit you work for?

Becker Flugzeuge, yes.

I think I've heard of them. Build all kinds of models.

Don't they build model planes?

The best.

I didn't know they produced the big stuff, too.

Well, the biggest we make is the Adler.

I think you'll find it on page 23.

The Adler has a two-metre wingspan.

But it's not one of my designs, because it's a glider, and I work only on the power models.

Page 23?

Yes, I think it's 23.

What about the big stuff? Is it a different department or what?

The biggest I've personally designed is the Jaeger 250.

Could I have this a moment, please?

Thank you.

Wait, it's here. There it is. Jaeger 250.

It won the prize for extended flight at Frankfurt last year.

Ext... extended flight?

Yes. The radio control also is my design.

And then on the opposite page there, there's another rather fine model.

It's called die Schwalbe. It's there.

Yes, but I think what Mr Towns meant was the real thing.

How much designing have you done on the real thing?

The real thing?

Well, yes. You know, like this.

Oh, no, no, no. You misunderstand.

We make nothing but model aeroplanes.

You mean you've never designed a full-sized aeroplane?

Full-sized? No.

But then, of course, the principles are the same.

Well, yes, they would be, wouldn't they?

Well, of course one encounters different problems, but basically the principles are the same.

I think I'd better check on the control linkages.

He's crazy, Lew.


He builds toy aeroplanes.

He didn't even keep anything from us.

He really doesn't think there's any difference.

Well, what are we going to tell those guys out there?


What are we going to tell them, Lew?


We haven't enough water left... stay alive.

We can die here...

...or we can die in that thing.

What's the matter?

Haven't you any curiosity left?

Wouldn't you like to know how it feels to fly a toy aeroplane?

Now what's he up to?

I don't know.

Maybe we'd better have a word with him about not saying anything to the others.

I don't know why you keep humouring him like that.

If the thing can't fly, it can't fly. That's all there is to it.

Anything missing?

No, I... I don't think so.

I'm arranging the harness attachments.

You'll be lucky if these guys can walk tomorrow, let alone pull this thing.

Nevertheless, it will have to be done.

The propeller itself will provide the basic impetus.

The men will mainly be to give it direction.

Well, why n-not n-now?

It's too dangerous in the dark.

Well, I think maybe you're right. It's too risky.

Go on.

Oh, well, one other thing.

It might be better not to mention to the others about being a toy plane designer.

"Toy plane designer"?

Lew and I feel it might upset them.

Mr Tow...

Mr Towns.

A toy plane is something you wind up and it rolls along the floor.

A model aeroplane is something totally different.

Model aeroplanes have been flying successfully more than 50 years before the Wright Brothers ever got off the ground.

They were not toy planes.

All right. I didn't know that, Frank, did you?

Nevertheless, it is a fact.

And there is something else you should remember, Mr Towns.

A model plane has to fly itself.

There is no pilot to correct the trim.

Therefore, if anything, a model plane has to be designed for greater stability than what you are pleased to call "the real thing".

In 1851, Henson and Stringfellow built a rubber-powered model that flew 600 metres before encountering an obstruction.

Aerofoil surfaces, lift and drag coefficients, weight-thrust equations and the whole pattern of modern aviation originate from right there.

Well, where is he?

I'll go and get him.

Here he is.

Our friend Dorfmann's a bit impatient.

In 1851, Henson and Stringfellow built a rubber-powered m-model aircraft that flew 600 metres before encountering an obstruction.

Did you kn-know that, M-Mr Towns?

That's great.

No, not great, but significant.

You understand, those are the only cartridges we have.

If you fail with them, my work has been wasted.

The moment the engine fires, throttle back.

Too much unnecessary vibration could shake the structure to pieces.

Vibration must be kept to a minimum.

Clear. Clear.

That's number one.


What's wrong?

There ain't nothing wrong with that engine.

Maybe he ain't giving it enough juice.


But he should know, shouldn't he?

He does know.



You're wasting the cartridges. We have only three left.

I know that.

What are you doing?

I'm gonna use one cartridge, ignition off, clean out the cylinders.


What are you doing? Stop! I forbid you!

I forbid you!

Do you hear me? I forbid you!

Come on, mate.

You'll make it.

Take it easy.


Come on!

You bastard, Frank!

You bastard!

You made it!

Frank, you bastard!

Stop! Stop it!

Stop it!

Throttle back! I told you, stop it!

All right, Mr Dorfmann, start pulling.

All aboard.

I can't. I can't.

You did good, skipper.

Give it some slack. Come on, move!

That's it. That's it.

Watch your step.



What the hell is that?

Hey, they ain't gonna try to land that thing here, are they?

Well, it sure as hell looks that way.

Look at it! Look at it! Just look at it!

I've never seen anything so beautiful.

Seventeen days without a drink.

Boy, I wouldn't have believed just plain water could look so good.

You never know, Frank. I might become an addict.

It's beautiful! Where'd they come from?

Those guys are either drunk or crazy.

How far did you say that Henson and Stringfellow flew that rubber-powered model in 1851, Mr Dorfmann?

600 metres, Mr Towns.

Is that metres or yards?

Metres, Mr Towns, metres.