Story background displays Libyan desert fighting in 1942, when the British were hurled back to the El Alamein line. It vividly focuses attention on exploits of an American tank crew headed by Humphrey Bogart to escape the onrushing Nazis, and battles against desert sands and lack of water.
Picture gets off to a fast start, with Bogart heading his 28-ton tank south on the desert in drive to regain the British lines. Along the way he picks up six Allied stragglers; Sudenese soldier Rex Ingram with latter’s Italian prisoner, J. Carrol Naish; and a downed Nazi pilot (Kurt Krueger). Bogart pushes on with his assorted passengers to reach a water hole at an old desert fort which provides a trickle but enough to sustain the group. Nazi motorized battalion also heads for the water supply.
Script [adapted by James O’Hanlon from a story by Philip MacDonald] is packed with pithy dialog, lusty action and suspense, and logically and well-devised situations avoiding ultra-theatrics throughout. It’s an all-male cast, but absence of romance is not missed in the rapid-fire unfolding of vivid melodrama.
1943: Nominations: Best Supp. Actor (J. Carrol Naish), B&W Cinematography, Sound