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Five Graves to Cairo

Five Graves to Cairo was probably the first American film to deal maturely with World War II, bringing a welcome relief from the masochistic and jingoistic last-stand dramas that cluttered screens in 1942. The film created quite a stir at the time for its remarkable currency; it was begun after the fall of Tobruk and completed three months before Rommel lost the African Campaign. Five Graves is also Wilder's vest-pocket Citizen Kane - the film in which he explores all the possibilities of the medium. Among the most striking touches is the opening appearance of a “dead” tank, and a fantastic fight involving a flashlight. Franchot Tone is quite good as the improvising hero, but the high point is Stroheim's definitive incarnation of Rommel.

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