Based on a wartime escapade, the story of an audacious plot to kidnap the general commanding German forces on Cyprus, under the noses of his own troops, carried out in nonchalant style by Leigh-Fermor and Moss, with help from the local resistance movement.
Ill Met by Moonlight belongs to a different tradition of British military mythology, combining the public-school practical joke with the Byronic motif of the poet-adventurer. Based on Billy Moss's memoir of the undercover campaign in occupied Crete, its focus is the romantic figure of Patrick Leigh-Fermor, better known now as a travel writer and classical scholar. The film remains an intriguing stage in the trajectory of military ideology that runs from Blimp to Powell's The Queen's Guards, a defiant assertion of the gentleman-amateur ideal at a time when Britain was learning its new role in the world of superpower conflict and the end of Empire.
Ian Christie (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger: Arrows of Desire)