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Ice Cold in Alex [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English PCM 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English HOH
  • Classification: PG
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Optimum Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: June 13, 2011
  • RRP: £19.99

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004OQJSIG[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:5/5]

Author Christopher Landon adapted the screenplay for this 1958 film from his own novel. A World War II film filled with all the classic elements of the genre like action, suspicion, danger, and adventure, Ice Cold in Alex features a superb ensemble cast and a strong story something like Hitchcock’s Lifeboat on sand.

The film follows a group of military personnel and two nursing nuns as they make their way across the desert of Libya in Northern Africa, away from Nazi-occupied Tobruk, towards the city of Alexandria (the title’s “Alex”). Before they make it there, they pick up a South African Army Captain, van der Poel (Anthony Qualye). Captain Anson’s (Jonathan Mills) drinking problem leads him to agree to taking on the South African van der Poel since he has two bottles of much-welcomed gin, but soon the party’s suspicions fall on the outsider when he fails to understand South African fire building techniques; then there’s the mysterious rucksack he carries around everywhere – could he be a Nazi spy? Whatever it is, the four continue on, all the while driven by the will to survive the treacherous conditions of the desert, escape from the Nazis, and Captain Anson’s dream of having an ice cold lager once he gets to Alex.

Differing from many other films in this genre by its lack of overt patriotism, instead opting for a sort of moral ambiguity between the British parties and the suspected Nazi spy throughout the course of survival, Ice Cold in Alex is nonetheless a thrilling and superb look at what is perhaps sometimes an overlooked theatre of the Second World War.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement of Ice Cold in Alex looks rather strong considering the film’s vintage. There are the expected amounts of source issues that creep in like some specks, scratches, and tramlines here and there, but mostly the image looks rather clean with a fine grain structure, deep and stable black levels and strong contrast. Detail in foreground imagery is very sharp in particular and there are quite a few moments throughout the film where the transfer just looks absolutely spectacular.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Ice Cold in Alex’s original mono soundtrack arrives in LPCM 2.0 on this Blu-ray release. Naturally, there is only so much one can expect from a monaural film mix from 1958, but outside of dialogue that sounds a bit on the thin side, the mix gets the job done nicely. Explosions sound surprisingly realistic and dialogue is intelligible.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

While the supplements here aren’t a windfall, there are some nice tidbits, best of which are the Sylvia Syms interview and Stills Gallery.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Interview with Sylvia Syms
  • John Mills’ Home Movie Footage
  • Trailer
  • Behind the Scenes Stills Gallery

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Brilliant all around, from the magnificent cinematography courtesy of Gilbert Taylor and the wonderfully photogenic Sylvia Syms as Sister Diana Murdoch, whom the camera adores in every shot, to the intense acting performances from everyone involved, this is a true old school war classic that looks brilliant in this restoration from Optimum.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004OQJSIG[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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