A group of Army personnel and nurses attempt a dangerous and arduous trek across the desert of North Africa during World War II. 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
Sylvia Syms's husband used to send her obscene limericks in the post, which she then gleefully read out to the cast and crew. See more »
At the checkpoint when entering Alexandria, the MP Captain hands over a shirt saying "This is for your South African friend". Later Captain Anson states that he has told security that he has a German Officer with them. Anson is trying to conceal Lutz's assumed identity and would not have told the checkpoint captain that Lutz was South African. See more »
Captain van der Poel:
It has been quite an experience. All against the desert. The greater enemy. I've learnt a lot about the English. So different from all I've been taught. Auf wiedersehen.
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Opening credits prologue: TOBRUK - 1942 See more »
Original British version, "Ice Cold in Alex", runs 130 minutes. US distributor shortened the film in 1961 to 76 minutes and released it as "Desert Attack". See more »
Ice Cold in Alex used to show up on the late show on CBC years ago, and it has also been on some of the cable channels. It gets better with each viewing. When the subject of war movies comes up, I always tell people this is my favourite war movie, and, in my opinion, one of the best - and usually get a blank look. They recognize the cast when I list them, though. And it is a great cast - Mills, Andrews, Quayle. And I am totally in love with Sylvia Sims in this. (I guess I must have a thing for beautiful women, with no makeup, sweating in khakis. I loved Juliette Binoche in Canadian battledress in The English Patient, too - but I digress).
This is simply good storytelling and great character drama in a setting that tests character, with an authentic look and feel and superb B&W photography of the kind that distinguished so many post-war 'neo-realist' films. There are so many great moments such as van der Poel lifting the ambulance, the 'surprise' encounter with the SAS (?) man, the Blimpish officer's encounter with an 88-mm shell in his Humber staff car, Mill's moments of crisis, stunning closeups of Sylvia Sims, and and especially that moment in the bar which makes you want to run out for a tall frosty one. Next time I view it, I will indeed have a cold Carlsberg waiting in the fridge. Years ago, I was sailing across Lake Winnipeg to Gimli on a slow, hot July day, with little wind, I promised we would enjoy beer and pizza when we finally made it to harbour, and I was thinking of this movie.
I am also a bit of a military vehicle buff, and I like this movie for that, too - for me, the ambulance - I think it's an Morris-Commecial CS11/30F, or maybe a Ford WOT2, but I'd have to see the movie again to be sure - is also one of the stars. Cranking-up-the-sand-dune is probably my favourite scene with it. The Wages of Fear /Scorcerer comes to mind as a comparable vehicle-as-character movie.
Vehicle buffs will also enjoy the anachronism of seeing a Land Rover parked on the street in the background of the final shot - the car wasn't in production until 1947.
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