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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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 ...
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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

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

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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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(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character Bartlett (MacRoberts' former schoolmaster) is portrayed as an alcoholic whose drinking caused him many troubles. Sadly, this was actually the case for the actor playing him, Robert Newton. He became increasingly unemployable due to his drinking, was declared a bankrupt in absentia, and would die just 3 years after this film. The cause of death was announced as a heart attack but was widely believed to be alcohol-related causes. 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

The Campbells Are Coming
(uncredited)
Traditional
Played on the bagpipes
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Burton on a roll
20 April 2005 | by (Tokyo, Japan) – See all my reviews

Desert Rats is a 'good old stiff upper lip' yarn with angry young man, Richard Burton, putting in a blinder. The film is set in WW2, North Africa and Rommel has swept across North Africa. The film is about Tobruk and how the German Army were held back. Burton leads ANZAC troops through the trenches of warfare. Good fighters those ANZAC's it appears and the film is a real tribute to them. This is reinforced by the movie being in black and white and quite informative.

The action is OK and I especially liked the black outfit Richard Burton dons for that gritty commando raid. There is also a top encounter between Burton and James Mason - Pacino and De Niro in Heat - but with Burton's angry young man act.

I would recommend it if only for Richard Burton.


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