Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1950s Ice Cold in Alex (1958)

Ice Cold in Alex (1958)

One of the great British WWII films of the 1950s, J. Lee Thompson’s Ice Cold in Alex is a gripping thriller about Captain Anson (John Mills) – an officer commanding a British Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) motor ambulance company – and his efforts to transport two nurses through treacherous, enemy-occupied North Africa after the fall of Tobruk to Rommel’s Afrika Korps in May 1942, not realising there’s a German spy in his midst.

Joining Anson – who is suffering from exhaustion, battle fatigue and alcoholism – are Sgt. Major Tom Pugh (Harry Andrews) and the two young nurses: Diana Murdoch (Sylvia Syms) and a very panicky Denise Norton (Diane Clare), who initially has to be restrained and sedated. The vehicle they drive across the desert back to British lines is a worn-out Austin K2/Y ambulance, nicknamed “Katy.”

When the group stops at a refuelling station they are joined by Captain van der Poel (Anthony Quayle), a tall and muscular Afrikaner South African Army officer.

Shot in Libyan parts of the Sahara, particularly memorable moments include the group’s nail-biting traversal of a minefield, peril by quicksand, and the iconic final scene of the survivors sharing a cold beer in Alexandria (the “Alex” of the title) – possibly the most thirst-quenching drinks in cinema history.

icecold1 icecold2

Captain Anson
John Mills
Sister Diana Murdoch
Sylvia Syms
Captain van der Poel
Anthony Quayle
M.S.M. Pugh
Harry Andrews
Sister Denise Norton
Diane Clare
Captain Crosbie
Richard Leech

J Lee Thompson