Ice Cold in Alex (1958)

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Released 14-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Theatrical Trailer
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1958
Running Time 124:31
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By J. Lee Thompson
Studio
Distributor
Ass British Pic Corp
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring John Mills
Harry Andrews
Sylvia Syms
Anthony Quayle
Case ?
RPI ? Music leighton lucas


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    This is the only title in the The British War Collection with which I was unfamiliar. As it turns out, this is because I had actually never seen this movie before. I admit I was rather intrigued by the title, Ice Cold In Alex and wondered exactly what World War II reference this was. As it turns out there is no connection between the war and the title; it turns out to be a reference made by John Mills' character to a bar in Alexandria where you could get an ice cold beer!

    Thankfully the story is a little bit more involved than seeking out a cold drink. Captain Anson (John Mills) and MSM Tom Pugh (Harry Andrews) become separated from their ambulance convoy when they are ordered to evacuate their base. The retreating allied forces blow the bridge that forms part of the direct route they need to take, which results in them taking a 600 mile long journey via a more roundabout route. Sounds pretty simple you reckon? Well, it might have been except now they have to cross a mine field, cross a desert full of German Panzer troops, deal with quicksand, breakdowns, and a lack of water and rations, all in an ambulance that wants to overheat every couple of miles. As if this isn't enough to deal with they have to rescue a couple of nurses, including Sister Diana Murdoch (Sylvia Syms), who at least provides a love interest for Captain Anson, and pick up Captain van der Poel (Anthony Quayle) a South African officer who has become separated from his unit. Is van der Poel who he purports to be, or is his strange behaviour an indication that something more sinister is going on? Just to complicate things even further Captain Anson has rather an excessive fondness for alcoholic beverages much stronger than beer which results in additional difficulties.

    This is an interesting character study of a group of disparate personalities thrown together in difficult circumstances. All the individuals have complex characters and it's interesting to watch them as they react to each other and to the various difficulties that their desert trek throws at them.

    Definitely worth a view and especially recommended for all World War II buffs.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer has been mastered in its correct aspect ratio of 1.66:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness  is variable and ranges from reasonably sharp to slightly soft. An annoying level of edge enhancement is present. Shadow detail is mostly quite good.

    A satisfactory grey scale is exhibited by this transfer.

    The source material used for this transfer is in reasonably good condition, so for film artefacts are mostly small and therefore not too intrusive. It should be noted though that there are larger marks such as that at 15:32 and that some scenes exhibit much more damage than average. Some archival footage that has been used, for example between 13:25 and 13:33, which is in particularly bad condition with very significant film artefacts present. Film grain is evident at all times. There are a couple of instances of minor aliasing.

    No compression artefacts were noted. Minor film grain is visible.

    No subtitles have been provided on this disc.

    There is no layer change as this is a single layer DVD-5 disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    A single Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English audio track has been provided on this disc and it has a dated quality. Minor hiss is present but is not intrusive at normal listening levels.

    I noted no problems with the audio sync and the dialogue was clear and understandable throughout.

    Leighton Lucas' musical score was both suitably dramatic, as well as more subdued, as dictated by the on screen action.

    Both the surround channels and subwoofer were silent.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras consist of a single theatrical trailer.

Menu

    The menu, displayed in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 without 16x9 enhancement, consists of a black and white image with colour text for the menu options. Neither animation or audio is provided.

Theatrical Trailer

    A typical narrated trailer of the period, that runs for 2:48, is presented in black and white with an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    It appears that  Ice Cold In Alex has been released in region 2, as in region 4, as part of the 4 disc The British War Collection. The content and features of the R2 disc are identical to those of the R4. This title has not been released in region 1.

Summary

    Ice Cold In Alex is a story of an epic journey across 600 miles of pitiless North African desert, by a band of people thrown together by circumstances, as they retreat from advancing German troops.

    The video is in quite good condition for its age with minimal film artefacts present.

    The audio quality exhibits a dated quality but is otherwise completely adequate.

    The theatrical trailer is the only extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Peter Cole (Surely you've got something better to do than read my bio)
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-995
SpeakersFront L&R - B&W DM603, Centre - B&W LCR6, Rear L&R - B&W DM602, Sub - Yamaha YST-SW300

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Comments (Add)
B****** to the US copy - Charlie and Tex