This biopic follows Rommel's career after the Afrika Korps, including his work on the defenses of Fortress Europe as well as his part in the assassination attempt on Hitler, and his subsequent suicide. Written by
The 27 November 1951 edition of the 'Hollywood Reporter' stated that allegedly on the direct orders of studio mogul Harry M. Warner, the Warner Brothers exhibition theatre chain has "cancelled all bookings and even terminated some runs on 'The Desert Fox'". See more »
In a scene between Von Runstedt and Rommel, a man seen through the window in the background does not move at all, showing that it is a painted backdrop. See more »
Field Marshal Gerd von Runstedt:
His astrologers have informed him that this is only a feint, that the real invasion is yet to come, north of Calais. The Fifteenth Army is sitting on those cold beaches up there, waiting for an invasion that is already taking place, is an excellent example of war by horoscope.
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While a highly rewatchable war movie, with a corker of a performance from
James Mason, this motion picture does have its inaccuracies--beginning with
its memorable opening. In truth, British commandos did not sneak or charge
in, outfitted in nightfighting fatigues; they simply walked in, disguised in
Axis uniforms with fake ids. Though the covert mission proved a fiasco,
Rommel, in true chivalrous tradition, had these would-be assassins buried
with full military honors. However, cinematically-speaking, it's a gripping
moment, and it's considered the first true pre-credit movie sequence, a
trick one would see quite often in later movies, such as the Bond films and
The movie focuses largely on the Field Marshall's involvement with the
attempted assassination of Hitler, but just how much (or how little) Rommel
was involved is still arguable. Curiously, James Mason once mentioned how
he was up for the part of Rommel and was competing with another Fox
contract-player, Gary Merrill (best known as Bette Davis's love interest in
ALL ABOUT EVE). Mason was impressed by how well Merrill marched and
strutted, doing bits of military-like physical action that didn't come
easily to the urbane Mason. Even though Mason ultimately won the part over
Merrill, he self-critically felt he didn't fully do the role justice (though
many, including myself, wouldn't agree with him). Perhaps the studio opted
for Mason to bring out a sympathetic quality, because viewers do tend to
forget the numbers of Allies who died directly because of the main
character! Rommel was a great general for his energetic and ingenious
tactics, not for (possibly) wanting Hitler killed.
Don't get me wrong; this movie is still a joy.
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