A British multinational seeks to overthrow a vicious dictator in central Africa. It hires a band of (largely aged) mercenaries in London and sends them in to save the virtuous but ... See full summary »
Andrew V. McLaglen
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 <email@example.com>
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 »
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 »
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.
19 of 20 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?