Starring: John Mills, Sylvia Syms, Anthony Quayle
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Running Time: 125 mins
Ice Cold In Alex is a British film about a group of Allied army personnel and nurses that embark on an epic but dangerous journey across the barren deserts of North Africa during the Second World War.
This is one of the most unique and memorable picks from the iconic period of 1950s British war films. It’s not only consistently exciting to watch, but it also features brilliant performances, a beautiful backdrop, and a fully exhausting story that makes the brilliant finale totally worth the wait.
As with a lot of older war films, this isn’t the fastest-paced thing you’ll ever watch. It really does take a while to get going as they establish the North African theatre of World War Two, and then the variety of characters involved in making the arduous drive across the war-torn deserts, and although it never really picks up any sort of exhilarating pace, once you’re into the story, it’s absolutely fascinating to watch.
The four main characters that take part in this voyage across the deserts are also outstanding for their unique and realistic personalities. The main man, Captain Anson, isn’t the sort of massively courageous hero that you normally see in classic war films. Instead, he’s constantly nervy, and has a drink problem that makes him a much weaker, but more believable person to see. As a result, it’s clear to you that he and his team aren’t invincible, increasing the sense of peril significantly, because it really feels at times like these people might not make their final objective.
The story also doesn’t focus on the war as a simple battle. Yes, there’s always the impending threat of Nazi attack for the group, but you also get to see the effects of the war on their own relationships with one another, and the various bouts of infighting that they have along the way, something again totally unique amongst the more patriotic war films of the past.
The setting is also an absolute marvel to witness. The rolling sand dunes across the Sahara Desert are absolutely spectacular as the backdrop to this epic story, whilst the isolation of the setting is also integral to creating a greater sense of danger and fear in the story, so it’s not only the beauty of the visuals that make this such a memorable watch, but also the genuinely intense feelings of danger throughout, which very few classic war films still manage to offer to this day, and that’s why I’m giving Ice Cold In Alex a 7.8.