Director J Lee Thompson’s 1958 British World War Two wartime-set thriller stars John Mills as a British military man, Captain Anson, who leads an ambulance and its medical field unit passengers to safety across the Libyan Desert to reach the British lines in Alexandria in 1942.
Thompson’s movie is a splendidly nail-biting and suspenseful action thriller, with a strong script by T J Morrison and Christopher Landon, based on Landon’s novel.
The on-screen crew also notably includes Sylvia Syms and Diane Clare as nurses Sister Diana Murdoch and Sister Denise Norton, Harry Andrews as Sergeant Major Pugh and Anthony Quayle as a suspicious South African military man, Captain van der Poel.
Perhaps it is slightly too drawn out at 131 minutes and Morrison and Landon’s meticulous screenplay is over-loaded with psychological insights at times.
But this beautifully crafted production is well made, tense and full of highly watchable performances, with gleamingly atmospheric black and white cinematography by Gilbert Taylor.
Also in the stalwart cast are Liam Redmond, Peter Arne, Richard Leech, David Lodge, Allan Cuthbertson, Walter Gotell, Richard Marner, Paul Stassino, Michael Nightingale, Basil Hoskins, Frederick Jaeger and Vivian Pickles.
The heavily cut US version runs only 80 minutes.
© Derek Winnert 2017 Classic Movie Review 5028
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