Taken prisoner in the Libyan desert, Sergeant David Thatcher (Victor Mature) – an American serving with the British Royal Tank Corps in North Africa during WWII – escapes from the Italian prisoner-of-war camp ‘Campo 30’ along with the orthodox and disciplined Sgt. Kendall (Leo Genn); Trooper “Tiger” Noakes (Anthony Newley), a cockney and born comedian; Bartlett (Sean Kelly), a phoney Aussie; and a taciturn Pole (Bonar Colleano) who is obsessed with the idea of killing Germans.
With the aid of a lovely Italian girl named Carola (Luciana Paluzzi) they obtain provisions from an Italian Officers’ Club but are almost apprehended, and in the ensuing gunfight, Carola is killed.
Thatcher is wanted by the Gestapo because of his pre-war anti-Nazi activities in Europe (he had tried to assassinate Josef Goebbels) and the fugitives are pursued relentlessly across the North African wilderness.
They battle the Italian camp guards, then the heat and the dryness of the desert itself.
The Gestapo enlists the aid of anti-British Arab tribesmen who eventually overpower the group in a wadi, killing Bartlett.
When Thatcher refuses, despite torture, to sign a confession of espionage that would implicate the US Government, sympathetic German officer Captain Ritter (Alfred Burke) – who is ashamed of Gestapo methods – helps them to escape before committing suicide.
As they get away Kendall is severely wounded, and later the Pole – who wantonly murders every German they meet – is killed in a skirmish with German tanks as the fugitives are caught in the murderous crossfire of a gigantic tank battle ranging from Benghazi to Tobruk.
As approaching British troops put the enemy to flight, Kendall dies, leaving Thatcher and Noakes the sole survivors of the breakout from Campo 30.
No Time To Die – released in the US as Tank Force! – is a colourful and thrilling blend of fact and fiction, competently acted and directed. It’s Boys Own material at its best.
Sgt David Thatcher
Trooper “Tiger” Noakes
1st English Soldier
2nd English Soldier
2nd Italian Officer