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A group of army personnel and nurses attempt a dangerous and arduous trek across the deserts of North Africa during the second world war. The leader of the team dreams of his ice cold beer when he reaches Alexandria, but the problems just won't go away. Written by
'Ice Cold in Alex' is an absorbing story of a British ambulance trying to get to safety in the North African desert. There is the heat, minefields, enemy troops, more heat, shifting sands and human weaknesses to contend with and at the end of the film (over two hours)one feels exhausted. The main characters are an army captain on the verge of a breakdown, a determined nurse, a solid sergeant major and a South African soldier whom they pick up on the way. With simple heroism they try making their way to their goal, which in this case is a glass of ice cold beer in Alexandria on the coast.
The interplay between the characters and the growing bond they have in adversity is well played by the actors. John Mills' deeply troubled captain is particularly well acted. Harry Andrews, Anthony Quayle and Sylvia Syms are fine too. The other main character is the ambulance itself, gradually coming to pieces on the way, steaming and bumping along.
J. Lee Thompson was a very able director and there are some excellent scenes here. The minefield scene near the beginning and the hill scene near the end are great, tense and emotional. The beer scene is moving and uplifting. The best British films about the Second World War are generally about a small group of ordinary people who faced with crisis and peril just get on with it.
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