Synopsis by Josh Ralske
In Nicholas Ray's WWII drama, two British officers, Captain Leith (Richard Burton) and Major Brand (German character actor Curd Jürgens, who would later play Bond foe Karl Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me), a South African, are being considered to lead a daring raid to steal crucial documents from a Nazi stronghold in Libya. The two don't seem particularly fond of each other. Brand's wife, Jane (Ruth Roman of Strangers on a Train), arrives on the base. There's an odd awkwardness when Brand introduces her to Leith at the officers' club. It turns out the two already know each other, intimately. They were romantically involved long ago, until Leith broke it off without warning. Jane later met Brand. Leith and Jane keep their relationship a secret from Brand, but he realizes something's up when he goes out for a bit and comes back to find them dancing together. He later gets angry when his wife slips up and refers to Leith as "Jimmy." Brand and Leith are chosen to lead the mission together. Jane says goodbye to Leith, and Wilkins (Nigel Green of The Ipcress File) and some other soldiers see them together. The raid goes fairly smoothly, until Brand can't bring himself to kill a German sentry, and Leith feels compelled to step in and do it for him. Brand's resentment of Leith grows. The team steals the documents and heads out across the desert to make their escape. They're attacked by a German patrol, and after the melee, Brand arouses suspicious when he orders Leith to stay with three badly wounded soldiers while the rest of the group leaves for the rendezvous point. Bitter Victory is based on the novel by René Hardy. Jean-Luc Godard famously said of the film in his review, "Nicholas Ray is cinema."
captain [military], document, love-triangle, mission [quest], Nazi, world-war