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The Desert Rats (1953) Poster

Goofs

Jump to: Anachronisms (4) | Character error (1) | Continuity (2) | Errors in geography (1) | Factual errors (6) | Miscellaneous (1) | Revealing mistakes (1)

Anachronisms 

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.
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The armored car used by Captain MacRoberts to destroy the German tank is a U.S. M-8. This vehicle did not enter service until 1943 in Europe. Appropriate British armored cars were in existence but were not readily available to Hollywood.
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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.
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The German tanks used are actually U.S. built, late-war M-24 Chaffee light tanks, which is to be expected given the lack of German vehicles in the early 1950s.
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Character error 

The uncredited general in command of Tobruk's garrison played by Robert Douglas is seemingly the 9th Australian Division commander Leslie James Morshead.
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Continuity 

When the British aircraft are attacking German trucks carrying the prisoners, the planes shown in the distant shot are not the same planes as in the closeup. The planes in the closeup shot have black and white stripes painted on their wings, at the root and parallel to the fuselage. Such stripes were not used for identification until D-Day (they were called "invasion stripes" at the time) and then only in Europe.
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When MacRoberts' wound is being treated, it appears high up on the left arm, near the shoulder. Two scenes later, the bandage is lower down on the bicep and the wound that would have been exposed is nowhere to be seen.
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Errors in geography 

The lobby cards state "Here are the guys who slugged their way from Tobruk to the sea!" but Tobruk is in fact a port, which is why it was a war objective in the first place.
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Factual errors 

When the British planes are firing at the trucks carrying the prisoners, the Germans fire back but appear to be using American Thompson M1A1s as opposed to MP40s.
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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.
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The attacking German infantry are all wearing WWI helmets instead of the proper M40 helmet.
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During the raid on the German camp there is a sign on a building reading "Hauptquartiers". Although the English word "Headquarters" might suggest a plural s, in German there doesn't exist such a form. The correct word would be "Hauptquartier" and the plural "Hauptquartiere"
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When Rommel (James Mason) is informed about the upcoming sandstorm he shouts "benutzen!". He clearly wants to say "Use it!", so in German he would just have said "nutzen!"
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When the captured MacRoberts requests a doctor the German soldiers calls for the "Oberarzt". An "Oberarzt" only can be found in civilian hospitals. The military rank would be "Oberstarzt" referring to a military surgeon in the rank of a Colonel. Otherwise he could have meant "Oberstabsarzt" which would have been a Major then.
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Miscellaneous 

During the last few scenes in the dugout, the characters all appear in various states of dirty, dusty, and disheveled, but the radio telephone, papers, and lanterns are all perfectly clean and orderly.
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Revealing mistakes 

During the German tank/infantry attack mid-way into the film, a German throws himself on the barb-wire. When you see him getting up, he throws his rifle with a bayonet backwards, and you see the weapon is just rubber as it wobbles uncontrollably.
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Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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