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Bitter Victory (1957)

Approved  |   |  Drama, War  |  March 1958 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,126 users  
Reviews: 20 user | 26 critic

A commander receives a citation for an attack on Rommel's headquarters, which is actually undeserved as the commander is unfit for his job. On top of that, unbeknownst to him, his wife is having an affair with one of his officers.

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(screenplay) (as Rene Hardy) , (screenplay), 4 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Captain Leith
...
Major Brand (as Curt Jurgens) (as Curd Jurgens: in closing credits)
...
Jane Brand
Raymond Pellegrin ...
Mekrane
Anthony Bushell ...
General Paterson
Alfred Burke ...
Lt.Colonel Callander
Sean Kelly ...
Lieutenant Barton
Ramón de Larrocha ...
Lieutenant Sanders (as Ramon De Larrocha)
...
Sergeant Barney
Ronan O'Casey ...
Sergeant Dunnigan
Fred Matter ...
Oberst Lutze
Raoul Delfosse ...
Lieutenant Kassel
Andrew Crawford ...
Private Roberts
...
Private Wilkins
Harry Landis ...
Private Browning
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Storyline

In North Africa during World War II, Major David Brand is assigned to lead a British commando raid into German-held Benghazi to retrieve whatever documents they can lay their hands on at the German headquarters. His number two will be Capt. Jimmy Leith who speaks Arabic fluently and knows Benghazi well. Brand also learns that Leith and his beautiful wife Jane were lovers before the war creating tension between the two. Brand is untested in battle and freezes at a critical moment, losing the respect of his men. After the raid, the trek back is arduous and takes it's toll on the men. It also results in only one of the two senior officers surviving. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Desert Commando Raid They Wiped Off the Record Books! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| |

Release Date:

March 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bitter Victory  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First film credit for author/screenwriter Gavin Lambert. See more »

Quotes

Major Brand: [walking into a room where Leith is adjusting the fan] Hello, Leith.
Capt. Leith: [contemptuously after adjusting the fans downward] I thought that fan should. uh, cool the colonel's head and not the flies on the ceiling.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"The producer gratefully acknowledges the kind cooperation of the British war office and of her majesty's forces in Lybya." See more »

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User Reviews

 
Deconstructing Machismo.
14 December 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Bitter Victory is directed by Nicholas Ray and adapted to screenplay from the novel of the same name written by Rene Hardy. It stars Richard Burton, Curd Jurgens, Ruth Roman, Raymond Pellegrin, Christopher Lee and Nigel Green. Music is by Maurice Leroux and cinematography by Michel Kelber.

It's a film that has proved most divisive over the years, where some have seen fit to devote in depth studies to it, others have bitingly dismissed it as a stretch to far in pretentious posturing. Personally I found it rather dull, a dreary trudge through the World War II deserts as Burton and Jurgens butt heads because Burton's character had an affair with Jurgens' wife (Roman).

The pace is purposely sedate, except for the battle sequence that is, so we are left to rely on the skills of the writers and actors to carry us through to film's end. Burton is good value, he almost always was when he got to brood and pontificate, while Green is his usual irrepressible self. Jurgens, however, is miscast and very uncomfortable with the moody machinations of his character. While the editing is at times awful and a couple of scenes don't really make sense.

Undeniably there is some potency bubbling away in the writing, the deconstruction of machismo and military cynicism angles carry thematic weight, but the film is structured in such a cocksure way it just comes off as being preachy instead of taking full advantage of the emotional core of the characters as written by Hardy. Just because I don't like the film doesn't mean it's bad, as previously stated, many find it fascinating and powerful, but it's not for me and I feel it's one of the great Nicholas Ray's lesser works. 4/10


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