Five Graves to Cairo - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Five Graves to Cairo Reviews

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½ June 29, 2010
"Five Graves to Cairo" is a terrific entertainment from early in Billy Wilder's career. Franchot Tone plays a British officer who impersonates a hotel waiter to evade German discovery when they take over an Egyptian inn, only to find out that the real waiter had been a Nazi agent. Now he's in a delicate game of cat and mouse, forced to keep up the charade in order to avoid the suspicions of Field Marshall Rommel (well played by Eric von Stronheim), but also to make good on an opportunity to discover the secret of Rommel's North Africa Campaign. The plot keeps thickening in this ever-tense war/espionage hybrid, but in true Wilder fashion, there is plenty of levity, most often in the form of a flamboyant Italian general played by Fortunio Bonanova.
terris85017
Super Reviewer
May 13, 2010
(1943 Director: Billy Wlder) Hmmm...interesting plot. Sounds like some humor?!
½ April 27, 2010
Billy Wilder‚??s debut is a truly forgotten gem. A war film that dissevers a lot more attention.
½ March 21, 2010
Writer & director Billy Wilder's sophomore frame as a helmer occurred with the World War II era suspense-thriller "5 Graves to Cairo," the first of several W.W. II movies that included a real-life personality from the war, German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Despite it being a pro-Allied propaganda effort, the Billy Wilder & Charles Brackett screenplay treats Rommel with considerable respect considering what some Allied war movies did to him. Noted Austrian silent movie director and actor Erich von Stroheim plays the renowned military leader and struts about in high fashion with a swagger stick. The Academy nominated this black & white, 96-minute film for three Oscars, including Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction.

The story concerns resilient British Corporal J.J. Bramble (Franchot Tone of "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer") is the member of an Allied tank crew. Everybody in the armored vehicle is dead and the tank careens through the desert over one dune after another until Bramble regains consciousness and bails off it. Confused and delirious from his long walk in a broiling sun, he wanders aimlessly through the sands and finds himself at an oasis hotel. Unfortunately for Cpl. Bramble, the British have pulled out and the Afrika Korps are pulling in to occupy the joint as their new headquarters. The hotel owner Farid (Akim Tamiroff of "Topkapi") and his chambermaid Frenchwoman Mouche (Anne Baxter of "All About Eve) try to persuade Bramble to get out while he can. Bramble refuses to leave. He assures them that he will shot either as an enemy soldier or as one that they cannot afford to furnish water. While the Germans swarm into the hotel and dictate the new arrangements for the owners and the new boarders, Farid hides Bramble behind the registration counter. Later, Farid and Mouche watch in horror as the Germans move the counter to another spot in the room. Bramble remains hidden in the counter while all of this is transpiring. Bramble hears them talk about a waiter named Davos who worked for Farid. It seems that Davos died in an explosion. Bramble dons the waiter's uniform and slips into his shoes, shoes designed for a man with a clubfoot.

Surprisingly, the Germans seek out Davos because he is an elite German spy with a well-deserved reputation, but nobody knows him by face. Nevertheless, the Germans accept him as the spy and plan to infiltrate him into Cairo. Meanwhile, Bramble meets an opera-singing Italian general and plans to steal his automatic pistol so that he can shoot Rommel. Several British officers‚??now prisoners-of-war‚??are shown into Rommel's company. Farid warns Bramble that the British were well-acquainted with Davos and would recognize him without fail. Bramble makes contact with one British officer while serving him liquor and the officer orders Bramble not to kill Rommel. Later in the evening, Rommel sits down to dine with the captured British officers and answer their twenty questions. Afterward, he reveals that he posed as an archaeologist before the war and execrated five secret supply dumps, the "Five Graves to Cairo", for the conquest of Egypt. has buried armaments at five sites inside Egypt that will enable him to carry the fight to the British and capture Cairo. The tension in "Five Graves to Cairo" grows partially out of Bramble's masquerade as Davos and the reality that the real Davos lies dead and buried under the rubble under the cellar. Inquisitive Rommel aide Lieutenant Schwegler (Peter van Eyck) discovers Bramble's treachery during an RAF air raid. Bramble and he struggle and he kills Schwegler. Bramble is certain that the Germans will find out about him. One of the subplots deals with Mouche trying to obtain information about her only living brother in a German concentration camp. Schwegler takes advantage of her desperation to learn something, anything about her brother. She accepts blame for Schwegler's killing and the Germans smuggle Bramble as Davos off to Cairo. Bramble receives a promotion to a lieutenant in charge of a tank for his excellent undercover work.

This is a great film with some nail biting suspense!
½ January 9, 2010
Early effort from writer-director Billy Wilder is an ingeniously designed wartime thriller. Intricately-plotted with energetic performances by Franchot Tone and Erich von Stroheim (though Akim Tamiroff's comic-relief Arab is a bit over the top) and excellent black and white cinematography by John Seitz (this is one of the first Hollywood films to really utilize chiaroscuro lighting effects, which became popular in film noirs a few years later). Wilder would go on to make a number cinematic masterpieces, but this is a strong early start.
January 6, 2010
The Second Battle of El Alamein, which commenced October 1942, marked a major turning point for the allies in Northern Africa. The advancement of General Erwin "Desert Fox" Rommel's Afrika Korps were finally halted and repulsed in their bid to gain the rich oil fields of the middle east.

Director Billy Wilder (who also co-wrote the screenplay) capitalized on this historic battle for his 2nd Hollywood film, FIVE GRAVES TO CAIRO - which actually takes a fictionalized account of the behind-the-scenes events leading up to the actual battle itself. I think it's fascinating how the story in the film meshes with real life events and gives an added dimension to this wartime propaganda film...and as propaganda - the film succeeded in boosting morale of filmgoers at the time, I'm sure - but it's blend of drama, suspense and comedic moments ensure that moviegoers today will still find it a treat.

Corporal John Bramble (Franchot Tone) is the lone survivor of a british tank crew. During the opening credits we see a lone tank rumbling over sand dunes, apparently with it's accelerator stuck and the crew either dead or passed out. A half-conscious Bramble manages to climb up to the top hatch only to be ejected from the tank as it crests a dune. Bramble wanders the desert until he comes to a town deserted by it's inhabitants for fear of the advancing Nazis. Delirious from heat-stroke, Bramble mistakes a deserted inn for British headquarters. Inn-keeper Farid (Akim Tamiroff) and his french-born maid, Mouche (Anne Baxter) hears the noisy intruder in the lobby and investigates. Farid is quick to render aid to Bramble...but not so Mouche - as she has grown to hate the British due to events stemming from the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940.

Bramble passes out in the lobby just as the Nazis arrive in town and Farid does his best to hide him...as for Mouche - she suggests they turn him over to the Nazis and be done with him - lest they face the firing squad for harboring an enemy.

Representing the Nazis is Lt. Schwegler (Peter Van Eyck), a young and handsome Aryan who is General Rommel's top aide. Schwegler is in charge of setting up the inn as temporary lodging for the General and his staff. The ever-nervous Farid reluctantly welcomes the business...but Mouche has her own agenda regarding the Nazis.

Erich Von Stroheim portrays General Rommel here. I think it's very interesting how Rommel has such a prominent role in this film. He isn't the stereotypical nasty Nazi as seen often in other wartime propaganda films. There is a bit of depth to his character here at least...
Director Stroheim will team up with Billy Wilder again seven years later in the classic SUNSET BLVD.

I really don't want to mention anything more about the story because the film does take some interesting twists along the way. You'll have to find out for yourself what the "Five Graves" are...

8.5 / 10
November 5, 2009
They don't make 'em like they used to anymore! Suspense and global politics in a simple setting.
February 9, 2009
Great war movie which is set in the second world war in Egypt with Erich von Stroheim as Rommel. the story has pretty much mystery, twists and Billy Wilder didnt let it get boring at all. The acting was great and so whas everything else in the movie. It sure is worth watching as i see that none of my friends have seen our rated it yet.
January 2, 2009
la guerra afecta a todos hasta al mas remoto poblado.
Una muy buena peli mayormente liviana pero con varios momentos de tensiůn y un desenlace nada esperado
August 5, 2008
Finally - I've been waiting for AGES for Flixter to add this to the list! I really like this film! Great writting, great direction, great acting.
April 29, 2008
Excellent film. The Germans are portrayed in a surprisingly human way considering that this is an American war movie made during the war. Might have something to do with the fact that Wilder was born in Austria. Great dialogue.
½ April 25, 2008
Wilder crafts a really interesting and exciting film that is a bit unlike most of his others. Franchot Tone gives one of his best performances, and Erich Von Stroheim is pheomenal.
½ March 20, 2008
Exciting, witty and entertaining with a good plot and interesting characters. I highly recommend!
March 15, 2008
Another exciting Billy Wilder and I'm ever closer to having seen his whole oeuvre. Von Stroheim and Anne Baxter are excellent.
March 15, 2008
Aivan loistava leffa! Hyvä juoni, loistavat näyttelijät eikä yhtään mitään erikoistehoste-trikki-joujouriekkumista. Vanhoja leffoja pitäisi katsoa paaaaaaaljon enemmän....
February 29, 2008
Franchot Tone blows, but Stroheim as Rommel is great! Cool opening scene that I won't spoil.
February 9, 2008
See Von Stroheim playing Rommel and die. The German genius must have been secretly delighted to hear about the break out of WWII as he could once more be "the man you'll love to hate". The rest of the film is rather an uninteresting studio B despite a few good scenes by director Billy Wilder who may not have been quite used to Hollywood yet.
½ June 28, 2006
[font=Trebuchet MS]Full review to come.[/font]
½ July 27, 2005
[font=Fixedsys]I have recently seen this film on TV in England (where I live) and taped it on video and have watched it another twice (two times US). I rate it very good not as good as Cassablanca or the like but enjoyable all the same. With all due respect to those involved it is quite a change for an American actor (Franchot Tone) to take the part of an Englishman with any credible belief.
I quite enjoy this film and look forward to watching it again in the near future.
Ray
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