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Bitter Victory

Bitter Victory (1957)

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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 0

audience

65

liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 946

My Rating

Movie Info

In Nicholas Ray's WWII drama, two British officers, Captain Leith (Richard Burton) and Major Brand (German character actor Curd Jürgens, who would later play Bond foe Karl Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me), a South African, are being considered to lead a daring raid to steal crucial documents from a Nazi stronghold in Libya. The two don't seem particularly fond of each other. Brand's wife, Jane (Ruth Roman of Strangers on a Train), arrives on the base. There's an odd awkwardness when Brand

Feb 22, 2005

Sony Pictures Entertainment

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All Critics (17) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (12) | Rotten (3) | DVD (5)

Nicholas Ray's direction of black-and-white CinemaScope, that freak child of the 50s, is consistently brilliant in this raw, confused masterpiece.

October 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Contemplating the dangerous games men play with macho self-images, this survives as one of Ray's greatest works.

October 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Fine thesping by Richard Burton leads a series of top performances by other members of large cast.

October 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The title tells all.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film's military detail is in most respects quite ludicrous.

October 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Odd amalgam of a French film, starring a British, German, and American trio, directed by an American and written by three men from different countries.

October 23, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

There is a sense that while the men here are well-versed in the theories of war, they are clueless about the realities of combat.

October 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Cinematic Reflections

It's one of Ray's more powerful films.

October 5, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Nicholas Ray directs with an uncompromising austerity that puts the hypocrisy and the bitter inhumanity of war in focus...

July 5, 2005 Full Review Source: St@tic Multimedia

Bitter Victory shows Ray at the height of his powers, making beautiful use of his black-and-white Cinemascope frame.

April 25, 2005 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

The whole picture, deeply pessimistic and subversive, exerts a fierce grip.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

A starkly shot and probing inquiry into notions of cowardice and heroism.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

A brilliant, shamefully neglected war movie.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: BBC.com
BBC.com

Has almost become eclipsed by the thunder of Jean-Luc Godard's infamously rapturous tribute in the pages of Cahiers.

March 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

...characters remain woefully underdeveloped.

February 26, 2005 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Audience Reviews for Bitter Victory

one of ray's more neglected films, it's a stunning black and white widescreen character study of the intense struggle between two british officers on a hopeless mission in the libyan desert. i somehow never realized before that richard burton was hot at one point in time
November 15, 2012
rubystevens
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

Stark drama of principles in wartime. Excellent performances from the three leads. Ruth Roman's part is small but integral to the plot and she makes the most of it.
August 27, 2010
jjnxn
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Burton is strong as is Ray's direction, but this story just falls flat
February 29, 2008
kenstachnik

Super Reviewer

In "Bitter Victory," General Paterson(Anthony Bushell) is in a bit of a pickle with a sudden dangerous mission to steal documents behind enemy lines in Benghazi requiring recruits. Major Brand(Curt Jurgens) is an obvious choice, especially considering his experience. Even though Captain Leith(Richard Burton) is very familiar with Libya, Paterson has doubts about him, especially about his being an intellectual...and Welsh. But that doesn't mean Brand and Leith have nothing in common, like say Brand's wife Jane(Ruth Roman).

"Bitter Victory" is an offbeat war movie with some interesting casting(Jurgens playing a hero on dry land while Richard Burton is not yet Richard Burton) and very good use of location photography being the main points of interest. While Brand and Leith are outsiders(yes, I know Brand is a white South African but that's a conversation for another time), the movie attempts a psychological portrait of war. The fact that it takes the most cliched approach possible(of all the suicide missions in this war, you had to choose this one...) including a shaky resolution is a huge shame and lost opportunity.
August 3, 2014
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Bitter war der Sieg (DE)
  • Bitter Victory (1957) (UK)
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