Five Graves to Cairo

Five Graves to Cairo

Director: Billy Wilder, Franchot Tone, Anne Baxter, Erich Von Stroheim

Cast: Billy Wilder, Franchot Tone, Anne Baxter, Erich Von Stroheim

     
 
Billy Wilder's Five Graves to Cairo is the third take on Lajos Biro's theatrical tale of romance and espionage, Hotel Imperial. This time, the action is transplanted from World War I Galicia to World War II Egypt as Rommel's Afrika Corps viciously forces the British Army to retreat towards Cairo. Protagonist John J. Bramble (Franchot Tone) is stranded in

Overview

Billy Wilder's Five Graves to Cairo is the third take on Lajos Biro's theatrical tale of romance and espionage, Hotel Imperial. This time, the action is transplanted from World War I Galicia to World War II Egypt as Rommel's Afrika Corps viciously forces the British Army to retreat towards Cairo. Protagonist John J. Bramble (Franchot Tone) is stranded in the Sahara, the lone survivor of a British tank crew. In shock and suffering from sunstroke, Corporal Bramble deliriously staggers across the desert searching for the nearest outpost. What he finds is the Empress of Britain Hotel in the Libyan border town of Sidi Halfaya. The city has been deserted and destroyed; no one remains but the Inn's owner, Farid (Akim Tamiroff), and the French chambermaid, Mouche (Anne Baxter). To the woman's chagrin, Farid conceals the English soldier as the Germans commandeer his hotel for the lodging of General Rommel (Erich Von Stroheim). Mouche is unsympathetic toward the plight of any Englishman. She feels the British had abandoned the French Army at Dunkirk, where one of her brothers was killed and another was captured. She has remained in Sidi Halfaya only to wait for the German Army and to bargain for her sibling's freedom, not to help the British. Despite Mouche's protests, Bramble assumes the identity of the hotel's deceased waiter, Davoss, who was crushed during an air raid. Surprisingly, the disguise affords him an immediate audience with Rommel. Davoss was, in fact, a top-secret Nazi spy. This access to Rommel, the invincible Desert Fox, inspires Bramble to remain at the Empress. It becomes his mission to steal the crucial secret of the five supply depots the Germans have buried from Tobruk to Cairo -- which gave them a fighting advantage -- and possibly turn the war in Britain's favor. Meanwhile, after being rejected by the General, Mouche is desperately reduced to "entertaining" Rommel's deceitful lieutenant in order to help her brother. She and Bramble inevitably grow closer as they each struggle to save what is dear to them. When the body of the real Davoss starts to emerge from the rubble in the Empress' basement, it becomes Mouche's fate to make the ultimate decision between saving one brother and saving many. ~ Aubry Anne D'Arminio

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Cameron Crowe describes Five Graves to Cairo as a masterful predecessor to the Indiana Jones action phenomenon. Over 40 years before Lucas and Spielberg, Billy Wilder created a captivating adventure film that deftly weaves its way in and out of actual history. The fictitious John J. Bramble (Franchot Tone) must uncover vital Nazi secrets and, if successful, incite the genuine routing of the German Afrika Corps during World War II. The stakes are high (the fate of the world is in the balance), but the stage is small (the setting is an Egyptian hotel) -- historical fact is expertly whittled down to the personal arena. This allows for romance, as well as individual heroics. Moreover, it permits creative and spontaneous portrayals of even the most documented figures -- as evident in Erich von Stroheim's blustering and comic take on General Erwin Rommel. However, it is important to note that Wilder and co-screenwriter Charles Brackett do not simply capitalize on the harrowing world war as a setting for melodrama or wit. Filming in 1943, they understood that contemporary war films were a powerful form of propaganda. The movie's politics and beliefs are clear -- it exalts patriotism, sacrifice, and action -- but the film is not heavy-handed. Billy Wilder's Five Graves to Cairo is a skillfully executed adventure and a thoughtful film, which accounts, as Crowe points out, for its timelessness and its reflection in popular films today.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/07/2014
UPC:
0025192139444
Original Release:
1943
Source:
Universal Mod
Presentation:
[B&W]
Time:
1:37:00
Sales rank:
12,073

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Franchot Tone John J. Bramble
Anne Baxter Mouche
Erich Von Stroheim Field Marshal Rommel
Peter Van Eyck Lt. Schwegler
Akim Tamiroff Farid
Fortunio Bonanova Gen. Sebastiano
Konstantin Shayne Maj. von Buelow
Fred Nurney Maj. Lamprecht
Miles Mander Col. Fitzhume
Leslie Denison British Captain
Ian Keith Capt.St. Bride
Philip Ahn 2nd Soldier
Roger Creed 4th Soldier
Bud Geary English Tank Commander
Frederick Giermann German Sergeant
Otto Reichow German Engineer
John Royce German Technician
Sam Waagenaar Rommel's Orderly

Technical Credits
Billy Wilder Director,Screenwriter
Charles Brackett Associate Producer,Screenwriter
Hans Dreier Art Director
Ernst Fegte Art Director
Bertram Granger Set Decoration/Design
Doane Harrison Editor
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
Farrell Redd Sound/Sound Designer
Miklós Rózsa Score Composer
John F. Seitz Cinematographer

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