IMDb > The Desert Rats (1953)
The Desert Rats
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The Desert Rats (1953) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

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6.8/10   3,109 votes »
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Director:
Writer:
Richard Murphy (written by)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Desert Rats on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
20 May 1953 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
They crawled their way across the blazing sands of Africa... to turn disaster into victory!
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 1 win See more »
NewsDesk:
(2 articles)
Irish Actor Davis Dies
 (From WENN. 21 December 2009, 4:01 AM, PST)

Desert Rats Star Tingwell Dies
 (From WENN. 21 May 2009, 2:55 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Bad Times for the Anzacs in Tobruk See more (25 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Richard Burton ... Capt. 'Tammy' MacRoberts

James Mason ... Field Marshal Erwin von Rommel

Robert Newton ... Tom Bartlett
Robert Douglas ... General
Torin Thatcher ... Col. Barney White
Chips Rafferty ... Sgt. 'Blue' Smith
Charles 'Bud' Tingwell ... Lt. Harry Carstairs (as Charles Tingwell)
Charles Davis ... Pete
Ben Wright ... Mick
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Patrick Aherne ... English Officer (uncredited)
John Alderson ... Corporal (uncredited)
Frank Baker ... British Officer (uncredited)
John Blackburn ... Sergeant (uncredited)
Robert Boon ... German Lieutenant (uncredited)
Frederic Brunn ... German Gunner (uncredited)
Arthur Brunner ... German Radio Man (uncredited)
Paul Busch ... German Orderly (uncredited)
Paul Cavanagh ... Colonel (uncredited)
Frank Chase ... Commando (uncredited)
Tony Christian ... German Sentry (uncredited)
Trevor Constable ... Ginger (uncredited)

Nicolas Coster ... Medic (uncredited)
Ashley Cowan ... Corporal (uncredited)
Gene Darrell ... Aussie (uncredited)
Noel Drayton ... Captain (uncredited)
Harold Dyrenforth ... Observer (uncredited)
Charles B. Fitzsimons ... Fire Officer (uncredited)
John Fraser ... Artillery Man (uncredited)
Arno Frey ... Kramm (uncredited)
Ray Harden ... Hugh (uncredited)
Charles Keane ... Sgt Donaldson (uncredited)
Lester Matthews ... Foreign Secretary (uncredited)
Clyde Morris ... British Communications Man (uncredited)
Gavin Muir ... Captain (uncredited)
James O'Hara ... Communications Man (uncredited)
John O'Malley ... Riley (uncredited)
Pat O'Morre ... Jim (uncredited)
Peter Ortiz ... Wireman (uncredited)

Michael Pate ... Cpl. Currie (uncredited)
Richard Peel ... Rusty (uncredited)
Guy Prescott ... Maj. O'Rourke (uncredited)
Jack Raine ... C.I.C. (uncredited)
Otto Reichow ... Gunner (uncredited)

Michael Rennie ... Narrator (voice) (uncredited)
Jerry Riggio ... Commando (uncredited)
Per Skavlan ... German Guard (uncredited)
Frederick Stevens ... German Major (uncredited)
Gilchrist Stuart ... Captain (uncredited)
Albert Taylor ... Jensen (uncredited)

John Wengraf ... German Doctor (uncredited)
Alfred Zeisler ... von Helmholtz (uncredited)

Directed by
Robert Wise 
 
Writing credits
Richard Murphy (written by)

Produced by
Robert L. Jacks .... producer
 
Original Music by
Leigh Harline 
 
Cinematography by
Lucien Ballard (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Barbara McLean 
 
Art Direction by
Addison Hehr 
Lyle R. Wheeler  (as Lyle Wheeler)
 
Set Decoration by
Fred J. Rode (set decorations)
 
Makeup Department
Ben Nye .... makeup artist
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Richard Maybery .... assistant director (as J. Richard Maybery)
 
Sound Department
Alfred Bruzlin .... sound
Roger Heman Sr. .... sound (as Roger Heman)
 
Visual Effects by
Ray Kellogg .... special photographic effects
 
Stunts
Fritz Ford .... stunts (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Charles Le Maire .... wardrobe director
 
Music Department
Alfred Newman .... musical director
Edward B. Powell .... orchestration (as Edward Powell)
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
88 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Certification:
Australia:M | Australia:PG (Cable TV rating) | Australia:G (DVD rating) | Canada:G (video rating) | Netherlands:16 | New Zealand:PG | Sweden:15 | UK:U (passed with cuts) | UK:U (tv rating) | USA:Approved (PCA #16243) | West Germany:16 (f)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
James Mason played the same role of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel two years earlier in The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951), also by 20th Century-Fox studio also being set in World War II North Africa.See more »
Goofs:
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): 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 »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
GreensleevesSee more »

FAQ

Chicago Openeing Happened When?
See more »
28 out of 31 people found the following review useful.
Bad Times for the Anzacs in Tobruk, 11 February 2006
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

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.

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