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ICE COLD IN ALEX, 1958
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  MOVIE POSTERICE COLD IN ALEX, 1958
Movie Reviews

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Stars: John Mills, Sylvia Syms and Anthony Quayle

Review by Russell Hill

SYNOPSIS:

After a British base is attacked during WW2, a group of people start to cross the desert to Alexandria but encounter many obstacles along the way.

REVIEW:

I've always been a huge fan of John Mills and have admired his ability to play every role very convincingly. I knew about this movie because it appeared in a UK advertisement where John Mills drinks a beer in a bar. Intrigued, I wanted to see the whole of the film and not just a single scene. And the end result? My opinion of Mills didn't change one bit.

During World War Two, the British base Tobruk is attacked by the Nazi's. A desert base, the only form of escape is through the sand dunes to Alexandria. Led by Captain Anson (Mills), who is very close to becoming an alcoholic, the group of people who he leads aren't exactly ideal. Accompanied by two nurses, Mills suspects that another man in his group is a spy. Throughout their odyssey, they come under fire and encounter a South African soldier who Anson befriends because he has alcohol with him. Whether Anson will lead them to Alexandria remains unknown, especially as the suspected spy might give away their location.

Ice Cold in Alex was released at a time when British cinema was jam-packed full of stalwart war films where every member of the armed forces was posh or talked differently than what was true in reality. Movies released at the time reinforced gender stereotypes men fought heroically whilst women stayed at home or looked after men when they were injured. Ice Cold in Alex is no different and each character has their downfalls Anson is a borderline alcoholic whereas the two nurses (one of whom is played marvellously by Syms) take control.

What Ice Cold in Alex demonstrates is the value of women to winning the war. Although this is not a huge battle or even a small conquest, the microcosm evident here shows just how important women were during the war. They might not have fought on the front line but their role was just as vital. Without women, there would have been no land girls and the UK probably would have starved.

The film was also shot largely in the desert. The desert is always a fantastic location to see in a black and white film and Ice Cold in Alex does capture it marvellously. Its director, J. Lee Thompson, overcame the difficulties of shooting in this unforgiving location and should be celebrated more often. Having directed the original Cape Fear in 1962 and The Guns of Navarone a year before in 1961, it isn't surprising that he was constantly in work.

Ice Cold in Alex has something for everyone. A defunct leader who overcomes adversity to achieve his goal, positive role models for women and a German spy what more could you ask for?

ACTORJ. Lee Thompson
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORJohn Mills
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORSylvia Syms
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORAnthony Quayle
Best of the ARTIST

ACTORHarry Andrews
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORWalter Gotell
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORDiane Clare
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORRichard Leech
Best of the ARTIST

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ICE COLD IN ALEX, 1958