This biopic follows Rommel's career after the Afrika Korps, including his work on the defenses of Fortress Europe as well as his part in the assassination attempt on Hitler, and his subsequent suicide.Written by
Though The Desert Fox is good as far as it goes and James Mason is perfectly cast as Erwin Rommel, one would hope that a fuller biographical study might be done on the screen.
Erwin Rommel was one of a group of like minded military leaders in various countries who after World War I, rose to the top of their country's military establishment because they saw the value of the tank in any future war. Some of those people would be Charles DeGaulle in France, Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton in America, Marshal Tukachevksy in the Soviet Union and Rommel in Germany.
In 1942 Hitler as he was constantly doing sent Rommel in to bail out the Italians who up to that point had been running the desert campaign in North Africa. With less men and supplies, his tactical ability bedeviled the Allied command until The Second Battle of El Alamein.
The film starts with Rommel as desert warfare genius and then when he does become ill and is invalided out of North Africa, the Allies regain the initiative and beat his famed Afrika Korps. Rommel is then sent to Western Europe to supervise the defenses on the Atlantic.
There comes a point when Rommel does realize that his Fuehrer is destroying his country and becomes involved in the plot to kill him and overthrow the government. That is what most of the film deals with.
James Mason is a stalwart Rommel a perfect conception of the man they called The Desert Fox. In this mostly male film, Jessica Tandy has little to do but be loyal and supportive as Frau Rommel.
Luther Adler who among other parts he played in his long distinguished career was David Ben-Gurion. He goes the whole opposite way in his portrayal of a ranting and malevolent Adolph Hitler. How a man who took his Jewish heritage as seriously as Luther Adler did, prepare for the role of Hitler is beyond my scope. But then again, there were few actors as good as he.
Though Mason does a fine job given what limited material he had to work from, archives have been opened and we know a whole lot more about Erwin Rommel. Time for another biographical study.
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