20 user 36 critic

Bitter Victory (1957)

Approved | | Drama, War | March 1958 (USA)
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.



(screenplay) (as Rene Hardy), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »

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1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Captain Leith
Major Brand (as Curt Jurgens in opening credits) (as Curd Jurgens in closing credits)
Jane Brand
Raymond Pellegrin ...
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


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 his beautiful wife Jane and Leith 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 its toll on the men. It also results in only one of the two senior officers surviving. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

commander | rommel | raid | well | major | See All (144) »


30 Fighting "Desert Rats" Invade Africa's Fortress See more »


Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »





| |

Release Date:

March 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bitter Victory  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Upon seeing this at the Venice Film Festival, Jean-Luc Godard said his iconic statement "Le cinema, c'est Nicholas Ray (The cinema is Nicholas Ray)." See more »


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.
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Crazy Credits

End credits are designed to look like they came from a typewriter (although in white on a dark background). There are no upper case letters (capitals) in the credits. See more »

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User Reviews

Mirrors on sands by night
9 November 2007 | by (Portugal) – See all my reviews

"Bitter victory" (1957) directed by Nicholas Ray it seems like a forgotten movie after all these years going by loss of memory from the viewers, but is of course a thought concerning illusions of battle before and after like mirrors on sands. All that gave us another view from the war, with a much more human vulnerability and even the weakness of a true character in a shadowy intimacy, as only apparently unvanquished as confused minds in a moral addict to win something more than a medal after death, because if staying alive as another of one of the two characters in different grades of officer's hierarchy perhaps he also may have lost his wife.

This movie concerns masculinity as fake target for a brainstorm about love and decay of feelings, with some alcoholic dreams to complete and complicating things and hierarchy, among officers during the Rommel debacle as fox of the desert on North Africa, during the trail across Libya. Director Nicholas Ray was underestimated somewhat in his cynical view and conception concerning value and results of the war or any war in the minds of human beings placed in a hierarchy of warrior's society. Maybe by his own conviction of peace means for reaching civil targets as contributing for the fight against hungry and thirst, imperfect feelings about love and reproduction of family, a new habitat out of eternal diaspora, love for the children and descendants. His sentimentality and deaf violence out of the shots were famous in meantime as misery of the humankind.

This movie too inspired the fatigue of war expelled not exactly with a scale extremed by reverting heroism and cowardice only, but claiming right to the spirit of melancholic character, from a few officers with such a corporative intriguing mind in conditioned atmosphere, as the sickness of barracks as foolish underground off the reestablished hierarchy and the promotion waiting for being upper considered. Forgotten all the tricks of the battle was like a rear defection of moral, attending now the nostalgic landscape from their professional remembrances, which move them for the more competitive standing by : if one pick up the merit belonging to the other in exchange of a woman lost for the battle, it is a twist between sex and glory, because is also an affair for the little contravention in a conventional adultery case of such a cruelty, inspired on the random without antidote in short term from animal reign fatality in this part of the world. Apparently there is no rescue against the bite of a poisonous desert's scorpion, it seems from that last hand-tale written on the screenplay(by Vladimir Pozner ?), with an artificial compensation for the sentimentality of the city background, encircled by windy sands of think tanks prisoners of selfish intimacy and waiting for promotion in the career at any cost - the taste of Ray in 1957, the geophysical international year and also when the struggle approaches for independence nearby, seemingly was pretext for losing somewhat the élan of another fight - and foreseen nowhere friendship between people and camels.

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