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The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951) Poster

Trivia

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.
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According to 'Halliwell's Film Video & DVD Guide', this movie " . . . was probably the first film to use an action sequence to arrest attention before the credit titles."
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Luther Adler, who gives a very convincing portrayal of Adolf Hitler, was Jewish. During the original "Twilight Zone" series, he played a shopkeeper whose wish results into him turning him into Adolf Hitler.
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After this film, James Mason would reprise his role as Nazi German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel two years later in The Desert Rats (1953), made also by the same 20th Century Fox studio and also being set in World War II North Africa.
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Several film reference books credit Dan O'Herlihy with playing the officer who leads the raid in the opening pre-credits sequence, but he does not appear in the film. The mistake is understandable since the actor playing the officer does bear a resemblance to O'Herlihy.
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This film was supposed to feature George Zucco, but the actor had a stroke on the set and was committed to a sanitarium in San Gabriel, California until his death in 1960.
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This movie's main filming location was at Borrego Springs, San Diego County, California.
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Erwin Rommel was gaining his attack information from a British officer whose messages his staff had decoded. He used the data from the officer's messages to plan his attacks on the Allied troops.
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According to the Twentieth Century-Fox records collection of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts Special Collections Library, the script for this film was read and authorized by both the US State Department and US Commissioner for Germany, John J. McCloy, around the time of the early part of January 1951. Twentieth Century-Fox received harsh criticism both during pre-production and upon the release of the film for its sympathetic portrayal of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.
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This movie was directed by Henry Hathaway who, almost 20 years after this film, directed another about Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and also set in World War II North Africa. This was entitled Raid on Rommel (1971). Apart from that 1971 movie, all of Hathaway's films about the Second World War were all for Twentieth Century-Fox. These included The House on 92nd Street (1945); Wing and a Prayer (1944); You're in the Navy Now (1951); 13 Rue Madeleine (1947) and this film. Raid on Rommel (1971) was made by Universal.
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Kirk Douglas and Richard Widmark were considered to play the title role of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. The 15 February 1950 edition of 'The New York Times' stated that the rights to Brig. Gen. Desmond Young M.C.'s book 'Rommel' had been acquired by 20th Century-Fox and "the title role will be offered to Kirk Douglas." Later, according to a February 1951 memo held in the AMPAS Library MPAA/PCA file for this film, "Richard Widmark has been chiefly mentioned as Rommel."
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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'".
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The movie was controversial upon its cinema release due to its sympathetic portrayal of Nazi German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. The 'Hollywood Reporter' reported in December 1951 that there were protests about this film after this movie had been released in London, England. Moreover, 'Variety' in March 1952 reported protests after this film had been released in Italy and Australia and that publication also later reported negative reaction to the film in Argentina and Austria.
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This movie had its theatrical release in Germany at the end of August 1952. Prior to this, there had been strong reservations about the film being released there. Both 'The New York Times' and 'The Hollywood Reporter' in November 1951 announced that reservations about this picture being released in Germany were held by many American-Jewish organizations, some German Government officials as well as the US State Department.
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'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.
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This movie utilized real black-and-white archival combat footage from the British documentary Desert Victory (1943).
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Desmond Young questioned everyone " . . . from field marshals to Desert Rats". This is a reference to the nickname adopted by the British 7th Armoured Division of the "Desert Rats", derived from the jerboa image used as a unit badge. The term has been also applied to members of the British Eighth Army, though there is contention over their right to adopt this nickname.
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Erwin Rommel was gaining his attack information from an American liaison at the British Embassy in Cairo whose messages the German secret service had decoded. He used the data from the liaison's messages to plan his attacks on the Allied troops, and in fact Adolf Hitler openly praised the fellow for giving the Germans information through his badly coded messages.
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All soldiers in the scenes of D-Day and thereafter are US troops, and most of the music heard (the exception is "The British Grenadiers") are tunes associated with the US military, providing a false impression that only US troops were involved in these operations.
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Movie debut (uncredited) of British actor John Alderson who plays a German corporal.
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'The Hollywood Reporter' announced in April 1951 that actor George Pembroke would be appearing in this movie but he does not appear in this film's cast credits.
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Studio information reported that Gen. Heinrich von Stulpnagel would be played by John Goldsworthy and Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery would be played by Trevor Ward but neither are credited. They appear but are not credited.
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In the film "Magic Face" released the same year, Luther Adler played an actor who impersonates Adolf Hitler.
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A number of film reference books claim Robert Coote has a role in this but he is nowhere to be seen.
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