6.8/10
3,903
32 user 11 critic

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.

Director:

Writer:

Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The story of the final years of the respected World War II German general, Erwin Rommel.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: James Mason, Cedric Hardwicke, Jessica Tandy
Certificate: GP Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

In 1942 Libya, a German-speaking British Intelligence officer uses former British POWs, some dressed in German uniforms, to fulfill a secret sabotage mission inside German-captured Tobruk.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: Richard Burton, John Colicos, Clinton Greyn
Tobruk (1967)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A Canadian POW major is rescued by a special British military unit made up of Germans to help lead an attack on a major Nazi fuel depot in Tobruk, Libya.

Director: Arthur Hiller
Stars: Rock Hudson, George Peppard, Nigel Green
Action | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The World War II story of the British Navy's effort to defeat Nazi Germany's most powerful warship.

Director: Lewis Gilbert
Stars: Kenneth More, Dana Wynter, Carl Möhner
Adventure | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

In 1944, US Navy specialists run a weather station in the Gobi desert where they are harassed by Japanese warplanes but aided by local Mongol nomads.

Director: Robert Wise
Stars: Richard Widmark, Don Taylor, Max Showalter
Action | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

As the Allied armies close in, the Germans decide to blow up the last Rhine bridge, trapping their own men on the wrong side. But will it happen?

Director: John Guillermin
Stars: George Segal, Robert Vaughn, Ben Gazzara
Anzio (1968)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

One of WWII's bloodiest battles as the Allies smash through the German lines which have enclosed the Anzio beachhead. Four months and 30,000 casualties before the Allies finally march to Rome.

Directors: Edward Dmytryk, Duilio Coletti
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Peter Falk, Robert Ryan
Desert Rats (TV Movie 1988)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

Series pilot about a local rebel who is appointed sheriff of a small Arizona town.

Director: Tony Wharmby
Stars: Scott Plank, Scott Paulin, Diedrich Bader
War | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

In WW2, a RAF squadron leader mourns the death of a comrade and receives a bombing mission against a secret Nazi V-2 rocket testing facility in France.

Director: Boris Sagal
Stars: David McCallum, Suzanne Neve, Charles Gray
633 Squadron (1964)
War | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

An RAF squadron is assigned to knock out a German rocket fuel factory in Norway. The factory supplies fuel for the Nazi effort to launch rockets on England during D-Day.

Director: Walter Grauman
Stars: Cliff Robertson, George Chakiris, Maria Perschy
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A dramatization of Nazi Germany's final Western Front counterattack of World War II.

Director: Ken Annakin
Stars: Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw, Robert Ryan
Action | War | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

During WW2, German ships are "safely" docked upriver at Bordeaux, but the British send a team of kayakers to attack them.

Director: José Ferrer
Stars: José Ferrer, Trevor Howard, Dora Bryan
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Lt. Harry Carstairs (as Charles Tingwell)
Charles Davis ...
...
Edit

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:

The Desert Demons Who Stopped Rommel, The Desert Fox! See more »

Genres:

Action | Adventure | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

20 May 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Les rats du désert  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,320,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Legendary Australian actor Chips Rafferty appears in this movie as Sergeant 'Blue' Smith. About a decade earlier, Rafferty appeared playing Milo Trent in another movie featuring "The Desert Rats" entitled The Fighting Rats of Tobruk (1944). See more »

Goofs

The uncredited general in command of Tobruk's garrison played by Robert Douglas is seemingly the 9th Australian Division commander Leslie James Morshead. See more »

Quotes

Field Marshal Erwin von Rommel: Now, MacRoberts, l respect your pride in this little rat hole you call Tobruk, but don't insult my intelligence by telling me that if it stood in my way, l couldn't crush it like that!
Capt. 'Tammy' MacRoberts: lf you can crush Tobruk, crush it. But don't tell me it isn't a constant threat to your supply line, that it isn't an open sore in your side, or that you can take Egypt without first smashing it.
See more »

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

The Campbells Are Coming
(uncredited)
Traditional
Played on the bagpipes
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Bad Times for the Anzacs in Tobruk
11 February 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Before Australia and New Zealand were threatened with attack on the home front, they sent as they did in the First World War, an expeditionary force to help Great Britain protect the Suez Canal, the lifeline of the British Empire. Aussies and Kiwis made a great deal of the army that General Wavell was commanding from Cairo.

They have always had a reputation as an informal people and it's with a bit of surprise that spit and polish Scots officer Richard Burton is put in charge of a batallion in a forward area of the defense perimeter surrounding Tobruk. The men and Burton don't take to each other too readily, but gradually the troops grow to respect Burton as a courageous fighting man.

Burton as it happens gets a bit of assistance from an unexpected quarter. His old schoolmaster Robert Newton had immigrated to Australia and enlisted in their army at the start of World War II. When not focusing on the battle sequences, The Desert Rats is about the relationship between Burton and Newton. All the rules about army discipline and separation of officers and enlisted men go by the boards here. Burton who's been under a strain like everyone else under siege at Tobruk gets a safety valve in Newton. An old friend from the past, a father figure if you will, gives Burton someone he can confide his innermost thoughts and fears to.

Sad to say the alcoholic Mr. Newton gives a refrained and dignified performance as a middle aged alcoholic schoolmaster. A role he could understand all too well from real life. He complements Burton's performance every step of the way in this film.

Look for some good performances from Australian actors Charles Tingwell and Chips Rafferty. Though this is a film about the Allied forces at Tobruk in 1941 and no Americans were officially fighting, this is an American production. So these two guys made their American cinema debuts. Tingwell never made another American film, but Rafferty came back a few times and his presence makes every film he's in just a bit better.

You might recognize Michael Rennie's voice doing the offscreen narration for The Desert Rats. The Desert Rats is a timeless wartime classic about the strain of command at every level of the Armed Services.


34 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page