Nine Men (1943) Poster


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British variation of "Sahara" well worth a look
captnemo27 February 2001
This suspenseful film only runs 68 minutes, but it is packed with enough events for two full length films. 9 British soldiers on a convoy through the desert find themselves stuck when the Italians blow up their truck. The convoy moves on without them. The Brits trek trough the sand until they find an ancient hovel. There they hold out while being sieged by the Italians. Low on ammunition and water, they make it seem as if they have 40 men inside their little fort with plenty of ammo. Like the similar Sahara, they have to use their wits to survive. This all British production is a little known gem with many rewards. Look for a young Gordon Jackson of "The Great Escape." A must see for all fans of WWII films. Rating: 7 out of 10.
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Top Notch UK Wartime Flagwaver
gordonl5611 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers

This is one of the best productions to come out Britain during World War Two. It is a neatly done film which uses service personal in the roles.

This one starts with a Sgt at a training barracks, Jack Lambert, telling the new recruits about a battle in North Africa he had been in. It is late 1941, Lambert along with eight others, are crossing the desert in a truck. The vehicle becomes bogged down in the deep sand. The men jump out to push. The truck is set upon by two German fighters who strafe the truck and men. Two of the men are wounded and the truck set alight.

The men manage to pull their weapons, a little ammo and a few canteens of water out of the blazing truck. The officer of the group is among the wounded. The section Sgt, Lambert, takes charge and they set off toward their lines carrying the two wounded.

A vicious sand storm brews up and the group loses their bearings. They however stumble onto a small abandoned building and take shelter inside. The storm blows its self out by the next morning. The officer has died of his wounds during the night and the men bury him outside the building.

As the British prepare to move on, a group of Italians soldiers approach them out of the desert. The British open fire killing several and putting the others to flight. Lambert is not sure just how many Italians there are, and decides to hole up for a bit. The other wounded man has taken a bad turn and needs further rest. The men watch the dunes for any enemy movement. The Italians at the moment are quite happy just sniping at the British.

The Italians try a quick assault just before dark, but are shot to pieces by the British who are firing from cover. They then try to have a go during the night with a light armoured car. The one Brit, Grant Sutherland though is a wiz with the Boys anti-tank rifle they have. He puts a few .55 calibre rounds into the armoured car, disabling same. Lambert sends off one of the men towards the British lines to fetch help. The Brits can see the Italians gathering in ever growing numbers.

Lambert figures the Italians will soon try and swamp them. The Brits are out of water and down to about 15 rounds each. The other wounded man has also succumbed to his wounds. Lambert has two of the men take all the grenades and hide in the dunes outside the building. If the Italians attack, they are to toss all the grenades and scream like they are a dozen men. Hopefully they can bluff the Italians into thinking they are a large group.

That evening, the Italians do come a calling again. The night is soon ablaze with rifle fire, yelling and grenade blasts. The trick works and the Italians pull back. The Brits though are down to 4 or 5 rounds apiece. The Italians attack the building the next morning. In response, Lambert leads his men out for a bayonet charge.

It looks like the end of the British, but the Italians get a rude shock as British reinforcements arrive, along with a pair of tanks. There is a quick dust up with the Italian bunch being knocked back on their heels. Some are killed, others run, but most raise their arms and surrender. The surviving men, led by Lambert, are loaded on a lorry for a trip back to their base.

The rest of the cast includes. Fred Piper, John Varley, Jack Horsman, Bill Blewitt, Eric Miklewood, Richard Wilkinson and a 20 year old Gordon Jackson.

The director of this excellent film was Harry Watt. A former documentary film maker, (TARGET FOR TONIGHT) Watt keeps the pace even and shows a solid hand with the action sequences.

The lead, Jack Lambert had a long film career being of screen from 1931 to 1975.
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Instructional film made entertaining and involving
trimmerb12342 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
At first the film appears a bit of a mystery. Produced in 1943 when films tended to be either escapist or patriotic flag-wavers, the rather clunky start is puzzling: basic training for army newbies who are apparently unexceptional. The newbies are a complete mixture of classes and educational levels with nothing in common - a very mouthy ignorant one, a clever quiet swat. Their sergeant-instructor too is unexceptional - not a bully or tyrant rather quietly business like but fairly approachable. None showing any promise.

This lot - the nine - find themselves dealing with their lorry stuck in the Libyan desert sand, separated from the main force. A enemy plane strafes them, destroying the truck and seriously injuring two. The truck quickly explodes destroying water, ammunition and food, leaving the men with their weapons and minimal supplies. The now 7 with two wounded men manage to hole up in a small stone building. A force of Italian soldiers perhaps 5 times larger with an armoured car discovers them and proceeds to attack.

I'm no expert nor even amateur but what they achieve I guess is possible but absolute text book - that the film is a demonstration of what a well led force could achieve against superior odds but a badly led enemy. Because it is presented as a story with memorable individuals, all the (many?) lesson contained are more easily remembered. I am guessing that a great deal of thought would have been given to the lessons the film needed to teach The differences portrayed between the two forces is not bravery vs cowardice, competence vs incompetence of the squaddies but leadership, The British squaddies, left to themselves are shown making believable mistakes which in such a hard pressed situation clearly would be fatal.

It's a clever bit of film-making, teaching by example - good and bad - the viewer gets wrapped up in the fate of the 9 so pays intense attention to the story. A lot is about adopting correct - ie helpful to group survival - attitudes. Interesting are the "Orders for Today" hand-written by the sergeant, stuck on the wall inside the building. Simple clear goals so all understand and which will survive in the likely event that the sergeant is killed and no longer able to lead.

The ending appears on the optimistic side but not beyond belief. It's a question of leadership with a degree of luck. I am guessing the film is a counsel of perfection but that was the point: for people to watch, learn.
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A British unknown Gem.
jerbar200431 March 2011
At the beginning of this film there is a lot of detail in the acting that could be easily missed. The story is mainly told in flash back, and the tension is held though out the whole time. Many of the first time audience must have saw this film bearing in mind that people they know, husbands and sons were fighting - doing their bit for king and country. The photography is well done, the acting is a bit rough in places but some how the the whole thing hangs together. There is no women cast in the film simply because the subject matter. I wonder how many more gems like this are hiddening in the vaults waiting to be converted to DVD.
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Nine Men review
JoeytheBrit13 May 2020
Jack Lambert and his troop of soldiers stumble across a giant sandcastle in the Port Talbot desert after they become separated from their convoy, and find themselves under attack from cheese-eating, wine-swilling 'eyeties'. Their ordeal is only marginally worse than that endured by the audience that must sit through Lambert's terrible acting as he fills his lads in on the meaning of 'umbitty-poo'. Luckily, the plot is just about strong enough to overcome his performance.
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Stock men-in-the-desert war flick
Leofwine_draca7 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
NINE MEN is one of the earliest 'desert war' films I've ever seen, and the plot is very familiar from those films which came later. It involves a small squad of soldiers, trekking through North Africa, who are besieged by Italian forces and forced to take refuge in an old building. The film then follows their struggle to survive against superior forces. It's an okay watch, made with the typical strong production values of Ealing Studios, but the cast is undistinguished (aside from a youthful Gordon Jackson) and there's not quite enough excitement given the perilous situation in which our characters find themselves.
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Umpetty poo
AAdaSC6 June 2016
Sergeant Jack Lambert (Sergeant Watson) recounts a personal story to his new recruits who are crying out for action at a British army training camp. His story concerns an occasion when he was isolated in the African desert in a unit of 9 men. They stumbled across a small derelict shelter during a sand storm and, from this location, they held off against Italian troops who came calling.

Lambert is trying to instil a British mentality that gives a little bit extra and that is conveyed by the phrase "umpetty poo", which itself is a terribly unfunny reworking of the French "un petit peu". It sounds similar once it is pointed out to you but it really is quite desperate and unimaginative. Still, Lambert does prove himself in the imagination department as his story is clearly made up. Those 9 guys would be dead in reality.

The Italians are portrayed as wine-loving cowards and we get to see them running away on a few occasions as our British troops whoop like girls pretending to be larger in number than 9. It's just too much for the Italians – "whoop" "whoop". The film is OK as it goes but there is something lacking.
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