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Sunday, July 10, 2011

295. Ice Cold In Alex

    Another mess-up on Delhi Belly (this time it was my fault because I had read the time of the movie incorrectly) meant I had a couple of hours spare to take in this black and white classic.
    Ice Cold In Alex has been given a cinema run to coincide with its release on Blue-Ray this summer.
    But I have to admit I settled for the good old DVD format from Lovefilm.
    Mrs W didn't join me claiming she had seen it dozens of times before. I couldn't remember seeing it but as soon as the gang clocked that Anthony Quayle may be a bit dody, bells started to chime.
    And then when the ambulance was stuck on the hill...the penny really dropped.
    But, hold on a minute, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.
    Ice Cold in Alex could easily be renamed Ruddy Hot in Libya because it surrounds a trek by a couple of soldiers and two nurses through the desert, from Tobruk to Alexandria, in the Second World War.
    It is like a two-hour endurance test for John Mills, Harry Andrews, Quayle and Sylvia Sims (sorry Marilyn fans but I reckon no 50s actress is any more beautiful than Sylvia in this movie).
    Mills is just brilliant as the burned out alcoholic captain who spends the whole film on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
    Andrews is the steely sergeant major with a yokel accent which I couldn't place and Sims is the glamorous nurse.
    There are many features which place Ice Cold In Alex in the 1950s - the cut-glass English of the officers, the black and white recording and the reaction to women.
    Sims' role nowadays would be played by a feisty Angelina Jolie-alike. It is so obvious that, in those days, women were seen not only as the weaker sex but positively feeble. Even when she is asked to drive, it is as if the men are asking a fish to cycle.
    Quayle is also an oddity. I can't say he is bad overall but his South African accent is ridiculous. At first, I genuinely thought he was a Scotsman.
    But the thing that no one can take away from J. Lee Thompson's film is the genuine sense of drama. It seemed so hot that I could almost taste the sand in my mouth and the task seemed so hopeless.
    Yet, the story by Christopher Landon is meant to be true. If that's the case, it is an amazing tale of courage and camaraderie.
    How should I rate it? Well, it does have its minus points as I have pointed out already, so I'm giving it 8/10.

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295. Ice Cold In Alex

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