During a high profile Mafia testimony case in California's Riverside County, a hired killer checks-in a hotel room near the courthouse while his next door depressed neighbor wants to commit suicide due to marital problems.
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>
Can Billy Wilder do no wrong? Except for the last few minutes, which are strictly WWII propaganda, this film is the goods. Franchot Tone's tone is at once sardonic and dutiful, a combination that brings out the irony of the situation he finds himself in when he stumbles into a bombed out hotel in the middle of the desert. It is the height of the war in North Africa, the British have retreated into Egypt, the German/Italian army is on the move, and there is intrigue in the air. There are other excellent performances by Anne Baxter and Akim Tamiroff and a scene reminiscent of "La Grande illusion," where Field Marshal Rommel, played with swagger and arrogance by Erich von Stroheim, entertains several British POW officers. Wilder handles the material deftly, his timing never falters, as the mystery and the tension build. As for those last few minutes, well, this film came out at the height of the war, so I'll forgive the propaganda excesses.
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