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

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

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

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,320,000 (estimated)
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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

The film was banned in Egypt, as the British were still occupying the Suez Canal and the Sudan. See more »

Goofs

During the last commando raid by Australian soldiers on a German base, the defenders are using Vickers machine guns when in reality they should be using MG34s. 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.
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Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Follows The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951) See more »

Soundtracks

Waltzing Matilda
(1895) (uncredited)
Original music by Christina Macpherson (1895)
(Based on the Scottish tune "Craigielee", music by James Barr, with words by Robert Tannahill)
Revised music by Marie Cowan (1903)
Lyrics by A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson (1895)
Played during the opening credits and often in the score
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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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