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The Desert Rats (1953)

 -  Action | Adventure | Drama  -  20 May 1953 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 2,914 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 11 critic

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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Title: The Desert Rats (1953)

The Desert Rats (1953) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
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Robert Douglas ...
Torin Thatcher ...
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

Plot Keywords:

tobruk | rommel | german | british | desert | See more »

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Action | Adventure | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

20 May 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Desert Rats  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In light of postwar revelations that Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had been complicit in the attempt to kill Adolf Hitler, there emerged a reassessment of him as a dashing and gallant officer, and this is how James Mason played him in "The Desert Fox"--in contrast to the portrayal of Rommel by Erich von Stroheim in Paramount's Five Graves to Cairo (1943), which was Billy Wilder's first film as a director. After "The Desert Fox" came out, criticism came from veterans who had strong opinions about Rommel based on their experience of his actions during the war. In making "The Desert Rats" two years later, in reaction to this criticism, Fox brought back Mason in a cameo, and he plays Rommel more villainously than he has in "The Desert Fox", though not as much as von Stroheim. See more »

Goofs

In the scene where "Tammy" and the others are being taken to a German pow camp in a truck convoy and strafed by allied aircraft, besides the inaccurate invasion stripes of the American P-51, other shots show stock footage of a Grumman Avenger diving in as well. The Avenger was primarily used in the Pacific theater and did not enter service until June of '42. See more »

Connections

Edited into All This and World War II (1976) 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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