Discover J. Lee Thompson's ICE COLD IN ALEX for Free!

May 21, 2020 - 1:44pm
Posted by Jim Healy


While the UW Cinematheque's screenings at 4070 Vilas and the Chazen Museum of Art remain on indefinite hiatus during this challenging time, we are thrilled to be bringing you another terrific feature film to watch at home and for free, the exciting 1957 British action drama Ice Cold in Alex.

ICE COLD IN ALEX (UK, 1957, 130 min.) North Africa, 1942. Fleeing encroaching German forces, a five-person British ambulance crew take on a perilous journey to Alexandria after being separated from their unit. Led by a traumatized but disciplined and determined Captain (played by British screen great John Mills), the tiny band of heroes must contend with scorching desert heat, land mines, quicksand, and other more insidious obstacles on the road to safety. This suspenseful and beautifully acted adaptation of Christopher Landon’s novel is one of the finest of all war films (and road movies). Ice Cold in Alex marked a turning point in the career of veteran British director J. Lee Thompson (The Guns of Navarone, Cape Fear), who, along with the cast, brought impeccable, showstopping craftsmanship to this tale of ordinary individuals faced with extraordinary challenges. The arrestingly beautiful black-and-white cinematography is by frequent Thompson collaborator Gilbert Taylor (Star Wars, A Hard Day’s Night). The American release of this beloved-in-Britain classic was generically re-titled Desert Attack and had nearly an hour removed from the original running time. The Cinematheque is pleased to offer a recent restoration of the uncut version of Ice Cold in Alex, the perfect way to discover this unsung masterpiece.

We have a limited number of screening codes (100) that will allow you to watch Ice Cold in Alex at home through May 28. To receive a link to view, send an email to, and please write the words ICE COLD in the subject line or the first line of your email.

Also, listen below to this week's Cinematalk podcast. On the first segment of the podcast, Cinematheque programmers Jim Healy and Ben Reiser discuss Ice Cold in Alex and assess the fascinating career of director Thompson. In the second segment, we are joined by our special guest, UW Madison alum and esteemed editor Mark Goldblatt (The TerminatorRise of the Planet of the Apes), Goldblatt offers his own praise of Ice Cold in Alex and reflects on his time as the editor of J. Lee Thompson’s 1984 movie The Ambassador, which screened at the Cinematheque in 2017.