A small British Army team is sent to destroy a German petrol dump as part of the preparation for a major attack in the North African campaign. While they are there, they spot a large number of tanks and realize that Army intelligence must be informed or some Tommies are going to be in for a nasty surprise. The Germans are equally determined that they should not reach their base, and a tense chase across the desert is the result.Written by
Mark Thompson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This movie seemed to be played a lot on late night CBC film when I was growing up. I watched it about 3 times as a lad and then found it in Japanese video store (Japanese have some of the best selections of old Western movies). It did not disappoint after all those years. It still carried a very hard thrill and had suspense in spades.
The story revolves around one of the first Long Range Desert Reconnaissance (LRDG) groups to attempt a trip to travel hundreds of miles behind German lines in North Africa and blow up a crucial petrol dump. In reality most LRDG groups were really sent out to gather intel, but that does not stop the believability of this story of daring Brits putting up the grit and getting whittled down, one lorry after another by relentless Germans pursuit.
They loose their lorries one by one... to the desert and to enemy action. Petrol and water run down as the suspense ramps up. Towards the end they are on foot in the desert as the last lorry runs out of water -- holed by a Jerry bullet in a previous firefight. With time running out and the Germans closing, they cannot carry their wounded... the wounded soldier insists on being left behind and the scene is powerful: after their good-byes the lone wounded soldier is set up under a camouflage tarp with a heavy machine gun and the rest of the water (left as a parting token of appreciation for his expected sacrifice). He dies hard, but gains the group time whilst they make their way across the desert in a last attempt to make British Lines.
Attenborough is young, and cocky. This is before he got into directing. There is fine mid-50s British talent here and the smattering of the regional accents, West Country, inners London, Lancashire, Upper-class, and one lone Australian, is very refreshing and very reminiscent of the British army that went to war in WWII.
I love this movie. Maybe it is because of the effect it had on me as a kid... I do not know. But you shall not be disappointed. You may also learn more about British Special Operations since they were the people who invented it in its modern sense.
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