6 October 2011 3:30 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

This 1951 film about the controversial second world war German field marshal casts him as more foe than friend of the Führer

Director: Henry Hathaway

Entertainment grade: B+

History grade: B

Erwin Rommel led several German campaigns during the second world war, most notably in north Africa. Late in the war, he was implicated in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler. When it failed, Hitler obliged him to commit suicide.

War

The film begins with Rommel (James Mason)'s defeat by the British, Free French and Americans in north Africa. Nothing is shown of the campaigns that made his name (and his nickname, Desert Fox, the film's ill-fitting title). You're just going to have to take the film's word for it that he was a military genius, respected even by his enemies – though many historians would agree. The staging of El Alamein and, later, D-day is astonishingly lifelike, not least because it is actually real life. »

- Alex von Tunzelmann

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