Friday, December 17, 2010

Opening Credits I Love: Flight of the Phoenix

On this day, December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright powered a heavier-than-air airplane and made it fly. On December 15, 1965, Flight of the Phoenix (d. Robert Aldrich) premiered, starring a plane that hits the ground before the credits are even finished. And that opening credits sequence is among my favorites in the annals of movie history. The freeze-framing on each actor as his name appears on the screen, the anguished screams from the men as things fall on them, the heightened looks of concern on their faces harking back to the silent era and the musical score punching in a cue for each new action all work in concert to produce a kind of festival of cheese that came to be standard for most of the action movies of the era where the actors in character are shown (either at the start of the movie or its finish) rather than simply scrolling the names up the screen. At some point they stopped doing credits this way, right around the time Burt Reynolds turned credit rolls into blooper reels with the Cannonball Run movies, but I sure wish they'd bring them back.



During the filming, Jimmy Stewart had a birthday and also marked his 70th film appearance with the lead role. The cast and crew made sure Stewart got a party and presents for his trouble.