Locally popular French WWII dramedy is a mediocrity, double-dipped in obvious ironic twists of fate right up to a surprise ending that’s more insulting than existential. The set up plops four French soldiers and a German officer in a small truck with limited supplies somewhere in the North African desert. And with Field Marshal Rommel in retreat, its not clear which side controls the nearest supplies stations. So, which way to go? Hard to figure out when your nominal prisoner, German officer Hardy Krüger, is the best informed guy in the group. FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX/’65 fans will enjoy seeing Krüger doing a trial run for the later pic, though any comparison in character complexity does this film no favors, while the French quartet includes the likes of Charles Aznavour & Lino Ventura in reasonable form. But Denys de La Patellière megs with such little imagination that the vast desert holds no mystery, and even a mine field brings little drama to the party.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: How to explain the film’s hometown rep? Perhaps French audiences, weary of WWII dramas w/ Vichy collaborators & resistance heroes simply longed for a battlefield story with grunts in non-green berets.