Director Billy Wilder salutes his idol, Ernst Lubitsch, with this comedy about a middle-aged playboy fascinated by the daughter of a private detective who has been hired to entrap him with the wife of a client.
A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.
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 <email@example.com>
The town in the movie, Sidi Halfaya (where the hotel is situated), is not actually a real place in Egypt. There is a place called the Halfaya Pass (aka Hellfire Pass) in Egypt, which was a region which was involved in World War II's North African war. The village town Sidi Halfaya in this movie was actually a large set built at a location near the city of Indio in Riverside County, California. See more »
In different shots, the pepper and salt shakers on the table in front of Rommel change positions, inexplicably, as he taunts his captives with his plan. See more »
Warlike adventure with thriller , suspense and historic events
This picture was a popular hit in the time, concerning about historical deeds, as well as intrigue, action and comedy. In June 1942 things looked black indeed for British Eight Army. It was beaten, scattered and in flight Tobruck had fallen and the rats of desert were besieged . The victorious General Rommel(Erich Von Stroheim) and his Africa Korps were pounding the British back and back toward Cairo and the Suez Canal. On July first 1942, Rommel and his Afica Korps reached El Alamein, as far east as they ever got. The film is set on an Arab Hotel called Hotel Imperial, where its proprietary Farid(Akim Tamiroff) accords to let a British soldier named Bramble(Franchot Tone) assume the identity of a deceased barman. There finds a French chambermaid named Moush(Anne Baxter) whose interest is in obtaining her brother out of a Nazi POW camp . Then, she asks to German lieutenant(Peter Van Eich) to win her brother's release. But the dead waiter results to have been a German spy , so Bramble tries to know where the Nazi supply depots have been stashed. Later Bramble is assigned one mission in Cairo, and on September seventh 1942, a new made Lieutenant bought a parasol at a little shop in Cairo. On October twenty fourth to the skirt of a bagpipe General Montgomery's Eight Army launched its counter offensive .
The film displays suspense, intrigue, action as well as lots of humor and wartime feats. Excellent performances, special mention Erich Von Stroheim as one of his prestigious roles as Nazi general and Fortunio Bonanova as an Italian singer official. Interesting script by Charles Brackett; Billy Wilder also collaborated on the screenplay and is based on the play 'Hotel Imperial' by Lajos Biro. In 1938, started the famed friendship between Charles Brackett and Austrian born Billy Wilder, following his initial hit there the former year with very funny 'The major and the minor' and prospered on such movies as 'Hold back the dawn, Ball of fire and Ninotchka', before they became a director-writer-producer tandem with Billy Wilder doing the film-making . The movie packs an evocative cinematography in black and white by magnificent cameraman John B. Seitz. Atmospheric musical and appropriate musical score by the master Miklos Rozsa. This highly successful motion picture is perfectly directed by the classic Billy Wilder. Rating : Better than average, well worth watching.
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