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The Desert Rats (1953)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, Drama | 20 May 1953 (USA)
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.

Director:

Robert Wise

Writer:

Richard Murphy
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Richard Burton ... Capt. 'Tammy' MacRoberts
James Mason ... Field Marshal Erwin 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 Charles Davis ... Pete
Ben Wright ... Mick
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Storyline

Rommel has the British in retreat on his way to the Suez Canal. All that stands in his way is Tobruk, held by a vastly out numbered force of Australian troops. Richard Burton leads these troops on daring raids against Rommel, keeping him off balance as they earn the nickname 'The Desert Rats'. Written by Derek Picken <dpicken@email.msn.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They crawled their way across the blazing sands of Africa... to turn disaster into victory! See more »

Genres:

Action | Adventure | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

20 May 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Les rats du désert See more »

Filming Locations:

Yuma, Arizona, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,320,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

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!" See more »

Quotes

Tom Bartlett: You don't know much about real fear, Tammy. Maybe it comes with age or the bottle. You don't know what it is to be a coward... really a coward. To know it, yet to hope one day something will happen to prove that you're not, yet half the time not really believing that either.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: 1941 LIBYAN DESERT NORTH AFRICA See more »

Connections

Edited into All This and World War II (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

The Campbells Are Coming
(uncredited)
Traditional
Played on the bagpipes
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Unusually well done war flick - well worth a look
24 October 2005 | by chall-5See all my reviews

This is a really enjoyable movie. Burton and Newton do a fine job, as do a cast of familiar British character actors. James Mason in his first outing as Rommel is especially fun. He reprised the role in a later Rommel bio-pic (titled "The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel").

Despite it's age, most of the attempts at special effects (artillery in the distance, explosions done via matte) come off well. As for the scenes where they really shoot off some pyrotechnics, they spared no expense! The overall portrait of the desert and army life looks very real and has the ring of truth. The plot is exciting and never drags.

The only problems are the over-patriotic script (I guess we should cut them some slack here, this movie was made much closer to the war than we are today!) and as noted elsewhere, the inappropriate German weapons. It's amazing that they used Thompson machine guns instead of MP40's, when for the next 30 years everybody from "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." to James Bond would use the MP40 all over the place. In summary I think this movie was a bit better than I expected and holds up well to repeated viewings.


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