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

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Overview

User Rating:
6.8/10   3,015 votes »
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Down 40% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
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:
A fine film that highlights an almost forgotten campaign in WWII. 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)
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)
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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


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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:
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:
Factual errors: 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 »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
Waltzing MatildaSee more »

FAQ

Chicago Openeing Happened When?
See more »
10 out of 16 people found the following review useful.
A fine film that highlights an almost forgotten campaign in WWII., 30 August 2001
Author: countryway_48864 from United States

The Desert Rats is an unpretentious war film that tells a good story with economy. The heroics come without drum-rolls.

The most fascinating part of this film is to watch both the marvelous Robert Newton and the under-rated James Mason give Richard Burton acting lessons.

Burton tends to chew the scenery when he snarls, "Good-morning," as though he were the youngest in a large family, doing anything for attention.

Newton counters Burton's unnecessary histrionics with a beautifully modulated realization of-himself in disguise as Prof. Bartlett, Burton's old instructor. I think this is the most honest look at the REAL Newton on film. The rueful man who clearly understands his inability to stay sober, but still has enough control to see his own and everyone else's situation clearly. He is the kind, timorous, brilliant failure who, in one burst of glory, up-stages his more successful juniors. Newton delivers a truly magical performance.

James Mason also delivers a balanced and multi-layered Rommel. Of course he practiced playing this brilliant German General in the better-known film, The Desert Fox.

Burton comes across as pure ham in The Desert Rats, but there IS one scene he has where he is honest and effective. He explains to Bartlett that the picture of the young woman in his wallet is his wife. The picture actually IS Burton's wife, pre-Elizabeth Taylor.

Otherwise, although Burton is billed as the star, the film belongs to Newton and Mason. See it for the pleasure of their company.

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