Music directorMikis Theodorakis CountryUnited Kingdom
Emeric Pressburger Release date4 March 1957 (UK)
24 April 1958 (NYC)
July 1958 (US) WriterW. Stanley Moss (adapted from the book: "Ill Met By Moonlight" The Wartime Diary in Crete of), Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger DirectorsMichael Powell, Emeric Pressburger ScreenplayMichael Powell, Emeric Pressburger CastDirk Bogarde (Maj. Patrick Leigh Fermor), Marius Goring (Major General Kreipe), David Oxley (Captain W. Stanley Moss, M.C.), Dimitri Andreas (Niko Soldan Emeris), Cyril Cusack (Captain Sandy Rendel), Laurence Payne (Manoli) Similar moviesInterstellar, Independence Day, Let's Be Cops, Salt, 12 Years a Slave, Fargo
Ill Met by Moonlight (1957), also known as Night Ambush, is a film by the British writer-director-producer team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and the last movie they made together through their production company, "The Archers". The film, which stars Dirk Bogarde and features Marius Goring, David Oxley, and Cyril Cusack, is based on the 1950 book Ill Met by Moonlight: The Abduction of General Kreipe by W. Stanley Moss, which is an account of events during the author's service on Crete during World War II as an agent of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The title is a quotation from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the book features the young agents' capture and evacuation of the German general Heinrich Kreipe.
During World War II, the Greek Mediterranean island of Crete was occupied by the Nazis. British officers Major Patrick Leigh Fermor DSO (Dirk Bogarde) and Captain Bill Stanley Moss MC (David Oxley) of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) land on the island. With the help of the local Cretan resistance in April 1944, they kidnap General Kreipe (Marius Goring), the commander of the island. They take Kreipe across rough country to a secluded cove on the far side of the island, where they are picked up and taken to Cairo, the Middle East headquarters of British forces.
Dirk Bogarde as Major Patrick "Paddy" Leigh Fermor aka "Philedem"
Marius Goring as Major General Heinrich Kreipe
David Oxley as Captain W. Stanley "Billy" Moss, M.C.
Dimitri Andreas as Niko Soldan Emeris
Cyril Cusack as Captain Sandy Rendel
Laurence Payne as Manoli
Wolfe Morris as George
Michael Gough as Andoni Zoidakis
John Cairney as Elias
Rowland Bartrop as Micky Akoumianakis
Brian Worth as Stratis Saviolkis
Paul Stassino as Yanni Katsias
Adeeb Assaly as Zahari
Marius Goring had appeared in three other Powell and Pressburger films: The Spy in Black (1939), A Matter of Life and Death (1946) and The Red Shoes (1948). Goring replaced Curt Jürgens, who was the original choice to play the part of General Kreipe.
Christopher Lee and David McCallum have small parts: Lee as a German officer in the dentist scene, and McCallum, in his film debut, as a sailor on the ship that picks up the group. Lee's part was edited out of the 1959 American re-release of the film. A "John Houseman" in the cast does not appear to be the well-known actor and director John Houseman.
Ill Met By Moonlight was filmed at Pinewood Studios in England, with location shooting in the Alpes-Maritimes in France and Italy, and on the Côte d'Azur in France.
The film was the seventh most popular movie at the British box office in 1957.
In popular culture
The story was affectionately parodied by Spike Milligan in the 1957 Goon Show episode, "Ill Met by Goonlight".