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Richard T. Heffron
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September 1942 - With Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps on the march through Egypt, a British special forces unit, composed of German Jews who serve with the British despite the mutual resentment between both, kidnap a Canadian officer who is an expert topographer and who is held prisoner by the Vichy French in Algeria. The officer, Donald Craig, must negotiate a company of British and German-Jewish commandos through 800 miles of the Sahara to aide a pending amphibious landing against Tobruk's massive fuel storage base - a mission that sees one impediment after another, and which discovers an undetected German armored force ready to win the battle of Egypt. Written by
Michael Daly <email@example.com>
The Longest Day started a trend in Hollywood to have big all star cast productions showing with documentary accuracy good accounts of some of the major events of World War II. Other such films like this would be Patton, MacArthur, Midway, and A Bridge Too Far. Note I do not include The Battle of the Bulge in this list.
The seesaw struggle for Tobruk would make a great film as the key port city on the North African coast passes from Axis to Allied hands a few times over the 1940-1942 period. But if you're looking for a factional account of that story, this ain't it.
What it's about is an allied raid on the fuel bunkers at Tobruk that keep Rommel's panzers going. The idea is that a group of Jewish soldiers who like Paul Newman in Exodus fought in the British army and these are German Jews, led by George Peppard, with appropriate accents and language will disguise themselves as Nazi soldiers. They will escort British 'prisoners' into Tobruk led by Colonel Nigel Green who will blow up the fuel dumps along with a combined naval and air assault. Along for the ride is Rock Hudson, a Canadian major who dreamed up the idea.
Well at least they didn't make Rock an American since there no American soldiers in that part of Africa at all. But Canada has always been handy if you want to cast a name American movie star in a British locale. Fortunately it fits the plot situation here.
There's action enough for those who like that as I do. But the most interesting part about Tobruk is the relationships between the German Jews and the British. Hudson is the outsider here so he does see both points of view. There is some garden variety anti-Semitism among the British, but it's also tempered with the fact that as Nigel Green puts it, he and others served in Palestine before war in Europe broke out.
Nevertheless as Peppard puts it for the first time Jews are acting like a people since the days of Rome. They are going home to where they started post World War II, to Israel before that was a name of a nation. Anyone who wants to start trouble can find them there. Sad to say a whole lot of people have wanted to start trouble for their own reasons.
So much battle footage was filmed for Tobruk that four years later it got used in another vastly inferior film, Raid on Rommel.
Not a great film Tobruk, but entertaining enough. But hopefully the real whole story of Tobruk will be told.
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