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The Desert Rats (1953)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, Drama | 20 May 1953 (USA)
Richard Burton plays a Scottish Army officer put in charge of a disparate band of ANZAC troops on the perimeter of Tobruk with the German Army doing their best to dislodge them.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
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Robert Douglas ...
...
Chips Rafferty ...
Charles 'Bud' Tingwell ...
Lt. Harry Carstairs (as Charles Tingwell)
Charles Davis ...
Ben Wright ...
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Storyline

Rommel has the British in retreat on his way to the Suez Canal. All that stands in his way is Tobruk, held by a vastly out numbered force of Australian troops. Richard Burton leads these troops on daring raids against Rommel, keeping him off balance as they earn the nickname 'The Desert Rats'. Written by Derek Picken <dpicken@email.msn.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They crawled their way across the blazing sands of Africa... to turn disaster into victory! See more »

Genres:

Action | Adventure | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

20 May 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Les rats du désert  »

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Richard Burton, who was born in Wales but usually used an English accent in films, was generally felt to be miscast as a Scot. See more »

Goofs

In the beginning of the movie Rommel is being addressed as 'Field Marshal' 'though at that time he was still a General. He was promoted to Field Marshal after the capture of Tobruk, which occurred in 1942 not 1941, when the tide of war had swung back again in favor of the Germans. See more »

Quotes

Tom Bartlett: You don't know much about real fear, Tammy. Maybe it comes with age or the bottle. You don't know what it is to be a coward... really a coward. To know it, yet to hope one day something will happen to prove that you're not, yet half the time not really believing that either.
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Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: 1941 LIBYAN DESERT NORTH AFRICA See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Dick Van Dyke Show: Remember the Alimony (1966) See more »

Soundtracks

Greensleeves
(uncredited)
Traditional
Played on the harmonica
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The beginning of the end for Rommel.
6 April 2000 | by (Pt Chevalier, New Zealand.) – See all my reviews

Interesting re-enactment of the desert campaign during WWII as seen through the experiences of one small company in the British army. They are a disparate group of soldiers. A motley band of commonwealth troops of mixed personalities led by Captain MacRoberts played by Richard Burton. Through the fire and hell of battling the Desert Fox and his war-hardened troops MacRoberts by lifting their spirits and their morale eventually melds his men into a fighting fit group of warriors. Enough said.

Although the story has neither the forced authenticity of 'The Longest Day' or the Hollywood panache of 'Where Eagles Dare' I believe it still manages to stand out in a special place on its own. Prior to a host of many other war movies it was the first to concentrate exclusively on the common soldier in the trenches, his anxieties for the present and hopes for the future. I also liked the side story of the young captain who is surprised to have under his command a favourite old school master, Bartlett played by Robert Newton. It causes some quizzical looks amongst the men, especially when he insists on continuing to address the old private as sir. Here the Desert Fox is played with dignity and respect by James Mason. The other german characters are also portrayed benignly, perhaps in view of the fact that very few atrocities were committed by Rommel's troops unlike their counterparts in Eastern Europe. History records accurately what eventually happened to Rommel in the aftermath of the plot to assassinate Hitler but here that is all in the near future. I recommend this b & w film to all war movie buffs of this English made genre but if you're looking for 'Saving Private Ryan' perhaps you should give it a miss.


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