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Ice Cold In Alex [DVD]
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John Mills stars in this war story set after the fall of Tobruk in World War II. Two English army officers (John Mills and Harry Andrews) and two young nurses (Sylvia Syms and Diane Clare) are driving an ambulance through occupied North Africa to Alexandria. Along the way they pick up a South African officer (Anthony Quayle), and more than once avoid capture and death while crossing the German lines. However, as the South African officer begins to undermine their confidence, they gradually come to suspect him of being a German spy.
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Put simply, this is one of the very finest black and white high definition transfers I have ever seen, with a level of detail and clarity that is simply staggering. Whilst the old standard DVD was very presentable, this new restoration blows it clean out of the water. Gilbert Taylor's razor-sharp cinematography has never and will never look better than it does here. Fine object detail is beyond criticism, with the numerous desert vistas providing a visual treat, and close-ups revealing every pore of skin and bead of sweat, enhancing the gritty feel of the film. Grading is exceptional, with a deep and rich greyscale and no evidence of clipping even in the brighter scenes. Digital tampering is kept to a minimum, with a natural film-like look present throughout. The use of modern `sprocketless' telecine transfer means that there is no evidence of telecine wobble, with the image remaining rock steady from the first frame to the last.
As with Optimum's release of `The Dam Busters', the original BBFC censor card has been retained, another lovely little touch that helps to set this release apart.
Sound is also good, presented as a 2 channel mono PCM track.Read more ›
Ice Cold in Alex is one of the best of the war movies Britain produced in the Fifties. It sets up a small group of people on a tense journey through a desolate landscape in a broken-down ambulance. We get to know these people...and we begin to worry whether Captain Anson is going to lose it every time he gets close to a bottle; whether van der Poel is truly a South African or a German spy; whether it will be Sergeant Pugh, or Nurse Syms, or van der Poel who'll get killed in one of the dangerous situations they encounter. And the movie has plenty of well-directed, tense situations coming one after the other. The four of them encounter mine fields that must be crossed, sand storms, Nazi ambushes and pursuits, capture by German troops they must talk their way out of (with van der Poel coming in handy), mechanical breakdowns and quicksand.Read more ›
John Mills plays, yet again, the flawed authority figure, as he so often did to such good effect. Anthony Quayle walks a perfect line between annoyingly boisterous and slightly sinister. Harry Andrews is his usual solid, stolid upright self, albeit given more screen time than he usually got (I can never decide whether this or The Hill is his best on-screen role). If Sylvia Syms has the least of the 4 main roles, she nevertheless provides perfect support to the others & the film would not work without her.
The strength of the film is that, even though the main plot twist is hinted at, if not revealed, relatively early on, the uncertainty & tension are sustained all the way to the end. These were the days when, whilst a string of star names was nice, it was the story; not star names or Special FX; that sustained a film. The story, of course, is not merely in the hands of the actors; John Lee Thompson must be given his share of the credit for his direction. Whilst I wouldn't go so far as to say this is the best film, or even the best war film, of the 50's, it is a perfect example of a top-notch British film of the 50's. Well worth adding to your shelf.
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A great John Mills film, a great film from the second world war, highly recommendedPublished 2 months ago by Popeye