Looks at the Films
ICE COLD IN ALEX Certificate A: Warners Director: J. Lee-Thompson
THE situation as the war coinmuniques used to say. " ii fluid." As it was in 1942 in North Africa.
War weary. alcohol propelled Captain Anson 1John Mills) sets out in a rickety old ambulance, with Sgt. Major Tom Pugh (Harry Andrews), to make the perilous trek across minefields and through Nazi patrols to Alexandria.
He is conveying two nurses, s ho have been left behind in one of the retreats, out of the war zone. For over two hours we arc with them enduring the hazards of desert and war.
At a desert petrol dump the ambulance picks up a tall, swarthy South African officer Captain van der Pod (Anthony Quayle). Captain Anson's first impulse is to doubt his credentials but, when he seems to answer questions satisfactorily and when it is discovered he is carrying cases of gin, he is allowed to join the ambulance crew.
Too many swigs at the gin bottle, however. lead Anson to an ill-judged attempt to rim the gauntlet of a Nazi tank patrol. One of the nurses is mortally wounded. Although she dies almost immediately, the British persuade the Germans that she is only wounded and that if they can get her to hospital she might be saved.
Van der Pod at each encounter with the Germans and there are several of them is the spokesman, since he is the only one who speaks German. (Oddly enough. none of the Germans seem able to speak English most unusual. Otherwise they could have spoken
to Anson. the officer in charge of the ambulance.)
The surviving nurse (a quiet. very British performance by Sylvia Syms, but with charm, too) wonders why van der Poet strides out into the desert at the same time every evening with a spade. "Never ask that in the desert," says Captain Anson.
But the burly South African also carries a heavy pack with him. Obviously there is something queer about him,
One day Tom follows him-and there is their alleged ally busy with a transmitting set letting Nazi H.Q. in on the latest movements of the British.
What to do ? Well, when eventually they reach Alexandria. the Nazi spy has saved the unit more than once, lending his great ox-like strength to jacking up the machine and getting his own life saved by the British when he sinks into the salt marsh just as he was about to send out another message.
Director Lee-Thompson has made a compelling and entirely credible film out of Christopher Landon's novel. and we become involved in all the stresses, setbacks. heart-breakings, and backhreakings of the terrible journey. Maybe once Or twice we get as tired of the old honeshaker of an ambulance as its crew and maybe a quarter of an hour off the telling would have done no harm.
By the time the outfit arrives in Alex no one aboard wants to see their friend the spy shot against a wall. And Captain Anson, with no honour lost, sees that he isn't.
Acting by the team is just about perfect.
TEN NORTH FREDERICK Certificate A: Carlton Director: Philip Dunne
ANO I HER problem family among the prosperous American middle class. Gary Cooper as the father. a not very strong character, is being steered along by a very strong character his wife (Geraldine Fitzgerald) -who has large political and
gocial ambitions; first the governorship for her husband and next (well. why not ?) the White House.
Meekly he goes to the party bosses and parts with $100,000 as a bribe. But when his wayward daughter gets herself involved with a trumpet player (he has a police record) the party finds him unacceptable, at the same time forgetting to return his cheque.
The son is a disappointment as well. In fact, the whole family is all at cross purposes, and the mother is hated by them all.
Putting a great deal of virtuoso acting into this hymn of hate. besides Mr. Cooper and Miss Fitzgerald, are Diana Varsi. Ray Stricklyn, Suzy Parker (providing Mr. Cooper with an Indian summer romance), and Tom Tully.
THIS HAPPY FEELING Certificate U: Metropole Director: Blake Edwards
IT looks as though we are in for a spate of middle-aged Casanovas ensnaring the hearts of 'beautiful ymmg girls, but the fashion in these latest efforts is for the older man to make the noble renunciation before things go too far.
This time it is all good fun, with Curt Jurgens as a famous actor with long experience getting a crick in his back when he tries to keep up with the youthful Debbie Reynolds.
Top honours to Estelle Winwood for her superb picture of a housekeeper poised permanently on an alcoholic cloud.