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Time Out says
The title tells all. Though Jürgens and Burton lead a successful World War II assault on Rommel's desert headquarters (for which Jürgens is undeservedly decorated), in the course of the raid both men are broken. Jürgens falls prey to indecision and cowardice brought on by his envy of the seeming ease with which Burton handles both the military situation and his personal affairs (including a past liaison with Jürgens' wife), while Burton's romantic veneer is shattered by the conflicting emotions he discovers within himself. The resulting personal anguish, summed up in Burton's blank delivery of the line 'I kill the living and save the dead', seeps into the very grain of Ray's magisterial black-and-white 'Scope set-ups.