Monday, June 8, 2015


irected byNicholas Ray
Produced byPaul Graetz
Screenplay byRené Hardy
Nicholas Ray
Gavin Lambert
Paul Gallico (additional dialogue)[1]
Based onAmère victoire
by René Hardy[1]
StarringRichard Burton
Curt Jürgens
Ruth Roman
Music byMaurice Leroux
CinematographyMichel Kelber
Edited byLéonide Azar
Transcontinental Films S.A.
Robert Laffont Productions
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release dates
  • 29 August 1957(Venice FF)
  • 20 November 1957(France)
  • 25 January 1958 (UK)
  • 3 March 1958 (US)
Running time
101 minutes[2]
United States

René Hardy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
René Hardy (31 October 1911 - 12 April 1987) was a member of the French Resistance during World War II.
Hardy was born in MortréeOrne. After the war, he was tried twice for collaboration, but was found not guilty, despite committing perjury at the first trial.[1] Shortly before his death he was accused again by Klaus Barbie, but died before any new charges were brought.[2]
Hardy was also a novelist. His book Bitter Victory (French title Amère victoire) was adapted for the cinema in a Franco-US co-production starring Richard Burton.[citation needed] It is one of director Nicholas Ray's finest films.


During the Western Desert Campaign of World War II, two officers are interviewed to command a dangerous commando mission far behind enemy lines in Benghazi. The South African Major David Brand is a regular army officer, but lacks experience of combat and of commanding men in the field. He does not speak Arabic and has only a limited knowledge of the area in Libya in which the patrol is to operate. The Welsh Captain Jimmy Leith is the opposite; an amateur volunteer with extensive knowledge of the area who knows a local guide and speaks fluent Arabic as well. It is decided that both officers will go, with Major Brand in command. The men see Brand as a disciplinatian - "the only thing he's slept with is the rule book".
Major Brand's wife Jane is an RAF Flight Lieutenant who enlisted to be near her husband. When Brand invites Leith to drinks with his wife, he picks up the fact that the two had previously had an affair before she married Brand. Leith had walked out on her without explanation.
The unit parachutes behind enemy lines with the mission of attacking a German headquarters and bringing back secret plans from a safe to be opened by Wilkins, an experienced safecracker. Dressed as local civilians, Brand's hand shakes with fright when he has to knife a German sentry; the deed is done by Leith.
The mission is completed successfully with only one death and one man wounded of the British soldiers. The patrol ambushes a German detachment, capturing the German Oberst Lutze, who Brandt knows was responsible for the secret information. Possibly in the hope of getting rid of Leith, Brandt leaves him alone with two seriously wounded men, one British, one German. Leith decides to put them out of their pain. He shoots the German, who pleas for his life. The Briton encourages Leith to act quickly, and get it over with. Leith puts his pistol to the soldier’s head and fires, but there are no bullets left. Rather than re-loading, Leith picks the man up, and sets out to carry him to safety. The ironic use of music here, a heroic march, is unusually powerful. The man cries out in agony and curses Leith’s failure, but dies before Leith puts him down again. Leith, whose Arab friend has joined him, then catches up with the rest of the unit.
The patrol is supposed to escape on camels, but they discover the men left with them have been murdered and looted of the camels and their weapons. During the long march back across the desert, Brand's animosity towards Leith grows, not only due to the affair with his wife, but to Brand's fear that Leith will reveal him as a coward to headquarters and destroy his career. Brand refrains from shooting Leith, which his orders permit, although after Leith dies during a sandstorm, the men believe he did kill him.
A patrol eventually picks up the group and takes them back to HQ. Brand's wife is distraught to learn of Leith's death, and when Brand is immediately awarded the Distinguished Service Order, instead of congratulating him, she walks off disconsolate. In the closing shot Brand pins the medal ruefully on a stuffed dummy.