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Night Ambush (1957)

Ill Met by Moonlight (original title)
Unrated | | Action, Adventure, Drama | July 1958 (USA)
Led by British officers, partisans on Crete plan to kidnap the island's German commander and smuggle him to Cairo to embarrass the occupiers.


(adapted from the book: "Ill Met By Moonlight" The Wartime Diary in Crete of), | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Major Patrick Leigh Fermor D.S.O. O.B.E. also known to the Cretans and the German Secret Police as PHILEDEM
Major General Kreipe
David Oxley ...
Captain W. Stanley Moss, M.C.
Dimitri Andreas ...
Niko (as Demetri Andreas)
Laurence Payne ...
Wolfe Morris ...
Andoni Zoidakis
John Cairney ...
Brian Worth ...
Stratis Saviolkis
Roland Bartrop ...
Micky Akoumianakis (as Rowland Bartrop)
George Eugeniou ...
Charis Zographakis
Yani Katsias
Adeeb Assaly ...
Theo Moreas ...
Village Priest


Based on the true story of how, during World War II, a gang of desparadoes (British officers enlisted for "hostilities only" and local partisans) went to the occupied island of Crete and kidnapped a German General from under the nose of his army. That was the easy bit !!! They then had to get him back to Cairo, dodging an intense air and land search. Written by Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Un exploit sans précédent dans l'histoire de l'espionnage See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »




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Release Date:

July 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Night Ambush  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


David McCallum's film debut. See more »


While waiting to ambush the General's car another vehicle is heard approaching. Elias listens, the pronounces that it is a "Volkswagen". While Volkswagen GmbH was technically in existence at the time, the vehicle in question wouldn't have been called a Volkswagen - it was known as a 'Kubelwagen'(bucket-car), while the better-known Beetle was a 'KDF-wagen' See more »


Major General Kreipe: You're not going to leave me in the hands of these... Cretans?
See more »

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User Reviews

A good genre film but it's a shame that P&P's last film together could be called ordinary
30 July 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

With Crete resistance deftly trying to undermine the occupation of the German army, a cunning plan is prepared that will undermine them by pulling off a daring coup from right under their noses. With only a handful of Cretan resistance fighters, Major Fermor and Captain Moss attempt to kidnap the head of the German army on Crete – Major Kreipe. With considerable ease they pull off the kidnapping but they still need to get off the island with their polite but dangerous quarry.

On one night last week I decided to sit down and watch two films that I had taped – both by the legendary Powell and Pressburger (the other being The Canterbury Tale). I sat down to Ill with reasonable expectations as it was to have been their final film together and I had hoped that they would have gone out on a bang by giving the overworked (at the time) genre of war movies a real boost. Based on a real mission (from Captain Moss' memoirs) this film is a good example of the genre but, other than that, there isn't a great deal to recommend it for. The plot is interesting even if they have stripped away a great deal of detail from the story and replaced it with some humour and some stiff upper lips but it has nothing extraordinary about it that would make it stand out from the crowd. The film has a couple of laughs in it but mostly it is a rather serious film – in a way this is not a bad thing as it avoids the usual flag waving quite well and focuses on being a solid story as opposed to a morale booster.

Other reviews have commented on the beauty of Crete's landscapes as filmed here but as far as I am aware the film was made in parts of mainland Europe but I take the point – the film, mostly external shots, looks great throughout. Aside from the landscapes though there is nothing that really makes it stand out as a Powell & Pressburger film – in fact perhaps the extraordinary thing about the film is how unextraordinary it was; if I hadn't known that it was from the Archers then I would never have guessed. The cast match their material with a fairly ordinary series of performances.

Bogarde seems very relaxed in the lead and he is enjoyable even if it would not even register on the radar of his best performances. Oxley is not as good as he has a straighter role to allow Bogarde to carry himself with more of a swagger without off-balancing the film; he is a bit flat at times but mostly he does well. Goring plays it very well and he is an enjoyable sportsman in contrast to the feeble Nazi's that the genre would throw up during the war. The Greek support cast are not as heroic as I think their real lives deserved but they are used well for comic effect.

Overall this is a solid entry into the genre that tells it straight with some humour and a good steady pace – nothing special but it avoids the flag waving that the genre often falls into. However, when you are talking about a Powell and Pressburger film then, although I enjoyed it, one has to feel a bit of regret that such famous names ended their famous partnership with a film that is regularly called 'ordinary'.

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