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 Hollywood Reporter ' announced in February 1950 and August 1950 that the 20th Century Fox studio planned to film background shots in North Africa where this picture is predominantly set. However, these plans fell through. However, background shots filming was shot on location by director Henry Hathaway in France, England and Germany according to editions of 'The Hollywood Reporter ' in January 1951 and March 1951. See more »
The opening commando raid shows at least a dozen German soldiers killed. In reality, only four were killed. See more »
Even today the name Erwin Rommel conjures up visions of a superlative soldier and a complex man . In short Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was an enigma , a member of the Nazi party and an admirer of Hitler but who fought the cleanest campaign of the war in North Africa . Compare the conduct of both sides in that particular conflict then compare it to say the Eastern front or the Pacific campaign . As BAND OF BROTHERS shows it wasn't uncommon for either side to execute prisoners even if practical necessity wasn't involved
So Rommel was respected as both a soldier and a human being but THE DESERT FOX is a disappointment . It's a Hollywood movie that was made just six years after the end of the war so in some places the producers don't want to praise the subject matter too much which is understandable because an American audience wouldn't like a movie where the lead character has contemptible views of American servicemen after soundly beating them at The Kasserine Pass . But at other points in the movie Rommel is seen praising Hitler while describing other senior party members as " Murderers " ! There thankfully seems to be historical context to all this . Yes Erwin Rommel was an admirer of Hitler because Hitler solved many economic problems like hyper inflation and massive unemployment when he came to power in 1933 so for a German to admire Hitler in those days was the norm however objectionable this may seem with hindsight . Unfortunately once the war ended instantly revisionist opinions amongst the surviving Germans came to the fore where they bleated that they despised Hitler and the Nazis and their genocidal policies and we see this in umpteen movies like DAS BOOT , CROSS OF IRON and THE EAGLE HAS LANDED , so much so that you'd think that there was only a handful of Nazis in Germany from 1933-45 , so at least this movie deserves some credit for putting things into perspective
However once again bad history and factual errors creep in as Rommel is recruited into the plot to assassinate Hitler . Rommel may have been asked to take part in the plot to overthrow Hitler but this movie over states the case . Worse it also paints Gerd Von Rundstedt ( Possibly the Wehrmacht's greatest leader ) as knowing about the assassination plot against Hitler but casually refusing to take part . Despite being no fan of Hitler or his murderous stooges Von Rundstedt was as shocked and as disgusted as the most loyal party member upon hearing of the bombing of Hitler's headquarters so it's highly unlikely he'd have had prior knowledge of the assassination plot . The ending is somewhat moving as Rommel is arrested and led away on charges of treason but perhaps the most poignant thing is that in real life Rommel was as innocent as nearly every other person murdered by the Nazis since he took no part in the plot . The story goes that immediately after the plot Rommel's staff started criticising the fact that it would have been better if the plot had suceeded hence Rommel was falsely suspected being one of the ringleaders which sealed his fate
THE DESERT FOX: THE STORY OF ROMMEL is a very disappointing movie on one of the 20th Centuries most respected military leaders . It fails to show his life prior to 1941 when he ironically fought against the Italians in the first world war , of how he made his reputation as a military commander against the French in 1940 and how during the Normandy landings he and Von Rundstedt argued as to how best to use the panzer defences ( As Anzio showed naval firepower would wreak havoc on units close to the shoreline so Von Rundstedt was probably right ) but the movie shoots itself in the foot even more by including stuff that isn't correct and a film that I once enjoyed seeing as a child is now spoiled for me
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