In 1942 Libya, the Allies are enduring yet another assault from Nazi commander Erwin Rommel, known as the “Desert Fox”. Broken down, alcoholic Captain Anson (Mills) is ordered to move a medical field unit, including two nurses (Syms and Claire), to the relative safety of Alexandria. Accompanied by stolid Sergeant Major Pugh (Andrews), the group eventually takes on one more passenger, Captain Van der Poel (Quayle), an Afrikaner with something to hide. Together they cross the unforgiving desert, confronting a host of challenges, to reach their destination.
With the title referencing the goal of drinking a cold beer in Alexandria, “Ice Cold in Alex” is less war film, more psychological drama about a team under enormous stress, and not just from the Germans. Filmed on location in Libya, you can practically feel the heat coming off the screen. Mills is superb as the damaged Anson, with Quayle and Andrews lending note-perfect support. Kudos also to the lovely, restrained Syms, who more than holds her own. “Ice Cold” earned four BAFTA nominations, including best picture. Over six decades later, it’s still easy to see why. (Trivia note: Director Thompson and actor Quayle would re-team three years later for “The Guns of Navarone”).