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FIVE GRAVES TO CAIRO, 1943, airing Saturday at 2:15 pm. DO NOT MISS!


LornaHansonForbes
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It's been a little dead around here of late, so I won't go into too much detail, but I just saw where FIVE GRAVES TO CAIRO, a very early directorial effort (his second?) from Billy Wilder and a Paramount film, so it's rarely shown on TCM [once a year, at most] is airing SATURDAY (tomorrow) at 2:15 pm, the prime showtime rivaled only by the extremely cruddy weather conditions it's likely we'll one and all be experiencing tomorrow (so it's not like you have a good excuse for missing it.)

 

I've only seen it once, but I recall being BLOWN AWAY. Like, couldn't get the film out of my head the whole next day, it is just an exquisite film (and apparently something of an inspiration for the character of INDIANA JONES....And I will note, it's interesting because it doesn't star anyone who's a particular favorite of mine- Franchot Tone who is the film's only weakness, but at least manages to be serviceable and Anne Baxter- who's good but miscast. It is worth nothing though that ERICH VON STROHEIM and AKIM TAMIROFF are perfection.

 

In my book, NO ONE did better movies than Billy Wilder- he is the acme to which anyone who writes or directs a film can aspire; and FIVE GRAVES is THE underseen, under-praised and under-appreciated gem in his ouevre.

 

DO NOT MISS THIS FILM.

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I've only seen this once also, Lorna but I wholeheartedly agree with everything you've said.

 

Thanks for reminding me as I'm dying to see it again!

 

I think FIVE GRAVES has aired maybe four times in the past two-three years, I distinctly remember this because I missed/forgot the first two airings (and was PEEVED), saw it the third time, and sadly missed the encore.

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The title sounds like an ISIS movie. :P

 

This movie has no historical truth but here are some interesting facts about Rommel having an affair during his youth.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walburga_Stemmer

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2119028/Desert-Fox-Rommel-behaved-like-desert-rat-Nazi-covered-love-affair-led-illegitimate-child-sake-career.html

Edited by hamradio
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I also have to say that my favorite decade for film is the 1940's and one of my favorite years of said decade was, without a doubt, 1943- which, if i had to boil it all down into a pat statement, would say was "the year that **** got real."

 

Movies grew up a lot in 1943 and started asking big questions about who we were and what the world was like. There was real darkness in places that heretofore had genuinely never encountered evil or been touched by the events thousands of miles away (see SHADOW OF A DOUBT and THE HUMAN COMEDY.) Men and women had to ask what they were capable of, and to whom their allegiance would go when push ultimately came to shove, which it seemed would be any moment (the most famous example of this is- no doubt- CASABLANCA, which yeah I know is kinda a 1942 picture, but it won the Oscar in 1943. But it's also a theme present in FIVE GRAVES and THE SONG OF BERNADETTE and SO PROUDLY WE HAIL!) There were also a number of intriguing horror films made that year, none moreso than RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE, which cleverly worked in The War as a background.

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Oops.

Just reread my OP and have to say i meant to say "it is worth NOTING" NOT "it is worth NOTHING" that Akim Tamiroff and Erich von Stroheim are in this movie. They are both absolutely fantastic in their roles.

 

Akim is a special favorite of mine, the closest any human being has ever come to personifying Boris Badenov.

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Could not agree more. My top five favorite Wilder-directed films are INDEMNITY, SUNSET BLVD., ACE IN THE HOLE; ONE,TWO,THREE; and FIVE GRAVES.

I didn't realize 'Five Graves' was a Wilder film.  I just recorded it for Baxter.  I'm even more excited to watch this movie now! 

 

My top 5 Wilder films:

 

Double Indemnity

Sunset Blvd

Some Like it Hot

Sabrina

The Apartment

 

After I see 'Five Graves,' will it replace one of the films on my list? 

 

Who knows?!

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What a movie, huh?

 

My impressions on seeing FIVE GRAVES a  second time:

 

I am more impressed by ANNE BAXTER than I recall on my first viewing and I'm sorry I said she was miscast, she is damn good in this movie! I am also tempted to cut FRANCHOT TONE some slack, even if he is supposed to be British but makes not even the slightest stab at trying on the accent and his being taken as a German with such confidence from Germans makes you start to go "Huh?" just in time for the big finale- which I don't think could be any more well-done (which is good because the credulity of everything is starting to stretch a little.)

 

if the ending to this movie doesn't get to you at least a little, you are a cold, cold person.

 

Apparently Wilder REALLY wanted CARY GRANT for the Hero role, but Cary (who was a friend of Wilder's) never once consented to work with him. It's interesting that many times throughout his career- and even after he was established- a lot of male actors passed on working with Wilder because the roles and material (at the time) were considered so risque and edgy.

 

I get the feeling Billy and Co. maybe had to settle for TONE the same way they did later for MACMURRAY in INDEMNITY and MILLAND in THE LOST WEEKEND ( it is to note though that both of those ended up being utter triumphs for both actors)...Even though Tone was fine as the lead in FIVE GRAVES, I can see this being a genuinely better fit for the actually British Ray Milland (who had worked with Wilder the previous year on THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR.) why Milland didn;t do it is unknown to me.

 

Apparently INGRID BERGMAN was all set for the BAXTER role and they either pulled her out and brought Baxter in, I can see why maybe Ingrid didn't want the part, even though it's good, it's not a big one.

 

I love Akim Tamiroff. I love him in everything, but I so especially love him in this. Von Stroheim is also pretty damned compelling, although he is given one scene with a looong speech that could/should have been condensed a tad. I also loved FORTUNIO  BUONANOVA (SP??) as the Italian General, in a role very similar to the one J. Carrol Naish got an Oscar nomination for in SAHARA the same year. It's hilarious how Italians are portrayed in WWII movies as opposed to the other AXIS powers, pretty much pure comedy- not the same attitude as the Germans and Japanese that's for sure...Buononova later showed up as the hapless arsonist truck driver who gets crucifed by Edward G. Robinson in DOUBLE INDEMNITY

 

It also occurred to me on this viewing how FIVE GRAVES TO CAIRO really makes  up something of a trilogy with CASABLANCA and SAHARA- I often see SAHARA as a continuation of Rick's life after the episode in Casablanca; I could see Baxter's character in FIVE GRAVES be something of a "second act" for the young French girl who forms her own "second front" by dating so many German Officers only to turn true patriot at the end.

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I hadn't realized until today that Miklós Rózsa did the music for both Five Graves To Cairo and Sahara. I had rewatched the latter recently so when the former started playing, I had a real feeling of déjà vu when hearing his music playing over a lone tank moving across the sands.

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Bumping this thread up shamelessly in case anyone caught FIVE GRAVES over the weekend and wants to share what they thought.

I watched thanks to your recommendation, Lorna and dug it. Akim Tamiroff was my favorite of the bunch but they were all good. Thanks for your post.

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