Written and Posted by Sarah
Dan Duryea played "Mr. Standish," one of the fourteen men on the doomed flight in the 1965 film The Flight of the Phoenix. Standish seems to work for the accounting department of the oil company that owns the crashed airplane.
This was the last "A-Film" that Mr. Duryea appears to have been involved with, and his part is not a very large one. The character of Standish is about as opposite from any typical Duryea role as it could be, but he played it very well. He is quiet, gentle, reserved and not the "surviving" type. He is a devout Catholic and concerned for the various men who got (and/or get) hurt. He is very gentle, but always willing to do his share of work involved in the building of the airplane and encourage the other men. He plays the part of the gentle accountant so well that you really thought he was that character. This is probably a peek into Dan Duryea's real personality, as he was considered to be a mild-mannered, quiet and rather gentle man.
Dan was the first man on the wing of the airplane (in the finale), followed by actor George Kennedy. The scenes showing the actors actually on the wings were done on a sound stage with a mockup airplane. The wing was rocked in order to simulate movement, and it was during the filming of one of the clips showing Duryea and Kennedy that the wing fell off of the supports and fell to the ground. Only the two actors and a special effects man were on the wing at the time. The only one hurt was Dan, but it was reported as minor cuts.
The other characters in the film are acted superbly by various famous (and would-be famous) men. Richard Attenborough and Hardy Kruger were great every time that they appeared on the screen, but it's not really fair to single out any one performance. They all portray different types of characters and reactions to the same situation.
The music was fabulous. It's not many times that a score feels almost like another actor in the story rather than background music, and the credits were very original in their style. None of that cheap 1960s music in this one!
All in all, the film keeps you on the edge of your seat. The quality of everything is top-notch. Dan Duryea's screen time, out of two hours and twenty minutes, probably amounts to five minutes spread throughout. Definitely worth seeing. If you like Richard Attenborough, too, then it's a real definite must. Click here to go to the TCM page.