The title Ice Cold in Alex
refers to the beer the heroes of this 1958 British World War Two classic plan to drink in Alexandria, once they have escaped from the Germans, negotiated minefields and survived both mechanical failure and the killing heat of the North African sands. The setting is Libya in 1942, at the height of the campaigns featured in The Desert Fox
(1951) and The Desert Rats
(1953), and a disparate group in a military ambulance--which include a Nazi agent to add tension of one kind and a beautiful nurse to add tension of another--must make an epic journey to safety. Staring John Mills, Sylvia Sims, Anthony Quayle and Harry Andrews the terror and poignancy comes from our certainty that not everyone will survive, such that the suspense sometimes reaches near unbearable levels. Director J Lee-Thomson was clearly inspired by the then recent French masterpiece, The Wages of Fear
(1952) and handles both the character drama and set-pieces with great skill. He would go on to make another great war adventure, The Guns of Navarone
(1961), also starring Anthony Quayle, who then returned to the desert for the ultimate British war classic, Lawrence of Arabia
(1962). --Gary S. Dalkin
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.