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
Apparently, Erwin Rommel's widow, Lucie Marie Rommel acted as a technical consultant and adviser to this movie. She was played by Jessica Tandy in the film itself. Mrs. Rommel lent the production some of her husband's personal artifacts and liaised with Nunnally Johnson, the film's producer and screenwriter. As Frau Lucie Maria Rommel, Mrs Rommel later also acted as a military consultant to the film The Longest Day (1962) made by 20th Century-Fox, the same studio that produced this movie. See more »
Colonel Count von Stauffenberg, who planted the bomb that almost killed Hitler, is shown with an eye patch over his right eye. In fact he has lost his left eye. 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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This is a pretty solid attempt to portray a soldier's great dilemma - balancing loyalty to the state and obedience to orders with the higher calling of loyalty to what's right and just. Erwin Rommel was one of the great German generals of World War II (a hero in Germany and respected by the Allies.) In the end, he also became involved with the conspiracy against Hitler. The movie shows us some of that development, beginning with his incredulousness at Hitler's orders that the Afrika Korps stand and fight to the last man in Africa rather than withdrawing to fight another day. According to the movie, it was this "stand and fight to the last man" attitude of Der Fuhrer that finally pushed Rommel over the edge. That makes Rommel consistent with what I know of most of the leaders of the "resistance" (such as it was) to Hitler. The opposition wasn't political; it wasn't based on a rejection of Nazi ideology or distaste for Hitler's racial policies - it tended to be based simply on the belief that Hitler was leading Germany to defeat in the war. That's the overarching sentiment portrayed here. That being the case, Rommel may not have been the sympathetic character this movie makes him out to be - maybe he just had the smarts to realize that Germany was fighting a losing war. There's also no mention of his performance during the German invasion of France in 1940, in which Rommel - as a panzer commander - received some German criticism for both his tactics and his tendency to exaggerate his achievements.
James Mason was very good as Rommel. His portrayal was believable, although I wish there had been more exploration in the story of where Rommel came from rather than simply starting us abruptly in Africa. Made only 6 years after the end of the war, the movie is also somewhat courageous in presenting a German general (even one who was unsympathetic to Hitler) in such a sympathetic light. I didn't find this to be structured particularly well. There was too much narration involved, which seemed put an end to any flow the movie might have been trying to develop. Some scenes (particularly of the Allied landings on D-Day) featured a little too much patriotic American and British and French music as the troops went ashore (frankly, listening to the Marine Fight Song or The Marseillaise in a movie about Rommel seemed a bit silly.)
It's an interesting movie, but doesn't seem to completely capture the man it portrays.
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