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  • PG
  • Adventure, Drama
  • 1958
  • 132 mins

Ice Cold In Alex

Film4

Synopsis

Fondly remembered as a Sunday TV fixture, this WWII yarn about the crew of an army ambulance stuck in the desert achieves classic status through powerful storytelling and a quality supporting cast

About

The reason Ice Cold In Alex stands out from the other World War II movies that are fondly remembered from their long-term slots on Sunday telly is largely down to director J Lee Thompson's unambiguous storytelling.

Described by Alex Cox as a "bread-and-margarine" filmmaker, Thompson's list of great films is admittedly short (The Guns Of The Navarone, the original Cape Fear, er... Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes). In playing up the simplicity of the Morrison/Landon script (plot: an army ambulance comes unstuck in the Sahara) and marrying it with direct lifts from the granddaddy of all action movies, Henri-Georges Clouzot's The Wages Of Fear, the director somehow transforms this small story into a near epic.

There's also a lot to be said for the no-frills supporting performances from Harry Andrews, who boasts the most awesome set of ears in the movies, bad apple Anthony Quayle and Sylvia Syms, who we'd have seen even more of had the censor not got jumpy.

And then there's John Mills, a man whose decency and integrity, grace and good humour make him a walking example of all that's jolly nice about being British. Without dear Johnnie, Ice Cold In Alex would still be a pretty good movie. With him, the film proves that, at its very best, British cinema is a match for anyone.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Diane Clare, John Mills, Richard Leech, Anthony Quayle, Sylvia Syms, Harry Andrews
  • Director: J Lee Thompson
  • Screen Writer: T J Morrison, Christopher Landon
  • Producer: W A Whittaker
  • Photographer: Gilbert Taylor
  • Composer: Leighton Lucas

In a nutshell

Worth working up a thirst for.

by Richard Luck

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