Five Graves to Cairo

Five Graves to Cairo ★★★★

100-word review: The time and place is 1942, Egypt. Left behind by the retreating British army, John Bramble seeks refuge in a remote desert hotel. When the Germans arrive, John goes undercover as a waiter to spy on field marshal Rommel. The screenplay is so tight, it feels as if history is rewritten rather than reimagined. Every plot detail proves relevant, and spawns an admirable 'aha' moment later. Said to be a propaganda film, it's hard to imagine Wilder took that command very serious, because the Germans gush charisma, confidence, intelligence… They are the bad guys, sure, but certainly never incompetent ones.

Lt. Schwegler: "You have a native cook by the name of Berek."
Farid: "Terek, yes sir, but he ran away this morning. With the British to Alexandria."
Lt. Schwegler: "You have a wife."
Farid: "Oh yes sir. Yes, but she run away. Yes sir."
Lt. Schwegler: "With the British to Alexandria?"
Farid: "No sir. With a Greek to Casablanca."

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