Desert Mice

Desert Mice is a 1959 British comedy film featuring Alfred Marks, Sid James, Dora Bryan, Irene Handl, John Le Mesurier and Liz Fraser.[1][2] A group of ENSA entertainers with the British army in the North Africa desert during the Second World War thwart a Nazi plan.[3] The title is a play on the Desert Rats.[4]

Desert Mice
Desert Mice FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed byMichael Relph
Produced byBasil Dearden
Screenplay byDavid Climie
StarringAlfred Marks
Sid James
Dora Bryan
Music byPhilip Green
CinematographyKen Hodges
Edited byReginald Beck
Distributed byJ. Arthur Rank Film Distributors (UK)
Release date
  • December 1959 (1959-12) (UK)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The title is a pun on Desert Rats which immediately tells the British viewer that the film is set in North Africa in WW2.


An ENSA group tours around North Africa entertaining British troops.

One night, Bert hears the tune (with no words) for Lily Marlene. He sets about writing a variety of lyrics to the tune.

Attached to an intelligence unit they realise that when singing their words to the well-known tune some in the audience are singing in German, exposing them as spies,


There is one big gaffe in the film, when in one of the lorry journeys you see a photo of Dave Mackay, of Spurs, stuck on the lorry canopy; clearly it dates from the 1959 period of the film, and not WW2, as 1959 was when Mackay began playing for Spurs Football team

Critical receptionEdit

TV Guide called it a "Light little comedy."[5] and Sky Cinema "A good-hearted, sporadically enjoyable tribute to ENSA," whilst noting "an enjoyable roster of familiar British character actors, headed by Sidney James, Dora Bryan, Reginald Beckwith, Irene Handl and Dick Bentley, all seen at near their best. Director Michael Relph's serious-minded talents are not entirely suited to this featherweight farce, although he does deliver some agreeably funny moments."[6]


  1. ^ "Desert Mice (1960)". BFI.
  2. ^ Guide, British Comedy. "Desert Mice - Film". British Comedy Guide.
  3. ^ "Desert Mice (1959) - Michael Ralph, Michael Relph - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related". AllMovie.
  4. ^ "Desert Mice – review - cast and crew, movie star rating and where to watch film on TV and online". Radio Times.
  5. ^ "Desert Mice - TV Guide".
  6. ^ "Desert Mice". Find and Watch.

External linksEdit