It is 1942 and the German Afrika Korps are pushing the British back toward Cairo. Field Marshal Rommel intends to destroy the British 8th Army and take Cairo. The British are far from defeated, though, and have reinforced the city’s defences.
The Germans – halted a few hundred miles from the Egyptian capital – now need reliable information about the defences and the remaining strength of the 8th Army to prepare for their final push.
Rommel (Albert Lieven) sends his two best spies – Adrian Hoven and Neill McCallum – disguised as civilians into British-occupied Cairo to gather intelligence and pass it on via wireless to a German relay station in the desert and back to Rommel’s headquarters.
Both of the spies speak fluent English. John Eppler (Hoven) is half-German, half-Arab and grew up in Cairo where he was known around town as something of a playboy.
They set out in a five-vehicle convoy of captured British vehicles and cross the desert to a location nearby the British lines. From here the two German spies – carrying forged identity papers and a suitcase of fake British currency – continue on foot.
But their trip has been observed by a British spotter plane and captured in aerial photographs which are sent to Captain Robertson (James Robertson Justice) of Naval Intelligence in Cairo.
Further complications arise in Cairo in the shape of a belly dancer (Gloria Mestre), two Zionists (Niall MacGinnis and Fenella Fielding) fighting for a Jewish Palestine free of British rule, a drunken British Major (Robert Urquhart) with loose lips who is infatuated with the belly dancer and a few murderous Nazi collaborators.
Captain Robertson has to navigate his way around all these characters and unmask the two German spies.
The film was based on fact but the pedestrian direction, tired scripting and uneven acting reduced the main plotline to pulp fiction level.
Watch out for an early appearance by Michael Caine as a German soldier named Hans Weber.
James Robertson Justice
Field Marshal Rommel
Major Jimmy Wilson
Peter van Eyck