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>
Erich von Stroheim playing Field Marshall Erwin Rommel dictatorially insisted on garnishing his own military uniform and he got permission from the Paramount studio to design this costume as well as his hair & makeup. He studied photographs of Rommel and then made requests for specific equipment, clothing and props. These included authentic German field glasses, a whisk, and a 35mm Leica camera with actual film. These items were all fully functional, in working order and of the correct provenance. Stroheim maintained that his performance could be affected as an actor would know if the items he were wearing or using were not authentic. Director Billy Wilder queried him about the real film in the camera which wouldn't be seen by viewers with von Stroheim replying, "An audience always senses whether a prop is genuine or false." Rommel dressed casually and wore loose-fitting uniforms yet von Stroheim demanded that he wear "a uniform as it is supposed to be worn." Von Stroheim believed that Rommel never took off his cap in the desert sun and so did not have sunburn face make-up above his eyes. See more »
When Bramble walks/runs into the town his shadow is behind him, then in front, then again behind him. See more »
Field Marshal Rommel:
[to the officers seated at the breakfast table]
Rice pudding in Egypt - you never know if it's raisins - or flies!
See more »
Not your usual action battle movie, but a thoughtful, well-cast and well-written piece of propaganda. Worth watching for a multitude of reasons
the opening shots of the desert, the end sequences of pure war-worship,
Anne Baxter's well-drawn and bitter maid, Stroheim's compelling and scene stealing portrayal of Rommel, the comic Italian general (I think this works as a bit of light relief despite being just that little bit xenophobic). Keeps the interest. Excellent.
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