Walter Matthau plays a professional killer going by the name of Trabucco, who is on his way to rub out gangster Rudy "Disco" Gambola, set to testify against the mob. As Trabucco heads off ... See full summary »
June, 1942. The British Army, retreating ahead of victorious Rommel, leaves a lone survivor on the Egyptian border--Corporal John Bramble, who finds refuge at a remote desert hotel...soon to be German HQ. To survive, Bramble assumes an identity which proves perilous. The new guest of honor is none other than Rommel, hinting of his secret strategy, code-named 'five graves.' And the fate of the British in Egypt depends on whether a humble corporal can penetrate the secret... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Billy Wilder was one of the best directors of his era, so it's no surprise that, in spite of a certain amount of wartime propaganda, 'Five Graves to Cairo' has a fizzy plot, a strain of black humour and a lightness of touch that sets it apart from the majority of films made at this time. It's also interesting as a film made while the war was still going on: far from demonising the enemy, it provides a generous portrait of Rommel, an unpleasant but human German army and a comedy Italian general for light relief. The plot also features a cynical Frenchwoman and a slightly racist realisation of an Egyptian: in some ways it's surprising to see how little this almost-fresh picture differs from those made later (if anything, since we discovered Auschwitz, it's been harder to make a film that shows that humanises the Nazis). 'Five Graves to Cairo' isn't Citizen Kane, and of course today this sort of thing would be done with much more violence, sex, and swearing: but that's a kind of recommendation in itself.
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