Ice Cold --- but red hot in being one of the top 100 Best Films
, 07 Nov 2011
This is quite simply one of those rare films for which male, female and child viewers all have a soft spot. Once seen, it is indelibly stamped on the memory and I would bet any money that every lover of films who has seen this once has seen it many times after that first delightful viewing.
It is a long film containing very few characters. These two factors present real impediments to any film maker but J Lee Thompson deftly brushes them aside and great credit goes to him for that. So those potential hurdles are no problem here.
With so few characters, the actors and their performances need to be 'top notch' --- and they most certainly are in this case. The 4 main characters, virtually carrying the whole film for 2 hours as a quarte,t all deserve mentioning by name here: John Mills, Sylvia Syms, Anthony Quayle and stalwart Harry Andrews. Even the ambulance is fondly remembered as a leading member of the cast.
The plot is simple: an ambulance simply has to get from A to B but in this case we have a rising tension throughout the film because the area between A and B is the vast, dangerous and German-controlled wastes of the Libyan desert (where it is acurately and superbly filmed on location). BTW, I think the choice of B&W cinematography is exactly the right choice in this case even though it was filmed much later than the normal WWII movies usually made during and immediately after the conflict.
I find it very hard to think of a negative critism with regard to this splendid film. But, just for the record, there is an unnecessary and ambiguous 'love interest' between the Mills and Syms characters which is somehow out of place. But, to be honest, finding any negative aspect of this film is simply churlish!
So many memorable moments to savour: Quayle's far too short 'short-shorts'; the tense minefield scene; the quicksand; the amusing 'where-does-he-keep-going-with-his-shovel'; the wonderful 'ambulance-up-the-hill' scenes; the quick-thinking disappearance of an Army Identification dog-tag;........... and the way in which we all taste every sip of that lager :))))
This may not be my beloved Golden Age of Hollywood but it must surely rank among my top 100 films of all time.
An absolute 'must' to see and enjoy
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