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The Desert Rats (1953)

Richard Burton , James Mason , Robert Wise  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Burton, James Mason, Robert Newton, Robert Douglas, Torin Thatcher
  • Directors: Robert Wise
  • Writers: Richard Murphy
  • Producers: Robert L. Jacks
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: May 21, 2002
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000063US0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,913 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Desert Rats" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Richard Burton stars in this exciting story of the stubborn, courageous men who held Rommel at bay in North Africa despite hopelessly outnumbered. The year is 1941, and Rommel has the British in full retreat. All that stands between him and the Suez Canal is the fortress of Tobruk, manned by a small army of Australian troops who are ordered to hold this vital position at any cost. Many of the men are green recruits, and it falls to Capt. MacRoberts (Burton) to whip them into shape. A bold tactician who realizes they will soon be overwhelmed if they do not take the offensive, MacRoberts leads countless daredevil raids that keep the superior enemy off-balance and earn his men the famous nickname they "won with blood and bore with pride." Directed by Robert Wise and co-starring James Mason in a reprise performance as Field Marshall Rommel (whom he first played in "The Desert Fox"), this stirring blend of action and history pays tribute to the heroic men known in the annals of war as The Desert Rats.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent war drama, with timely elements March 27, 2003
Format:DVD
Richard Burton stars in this excellent war drama, directed by Robert Wise. James Mason reprises his role as Rommel, from "The Desert Fox."
I have to admit, I watched this in the hopes that I might gain some additional insight into the desert fighting in Iraq.
And I did. Even though this is a 50-year old movie, the desert scenes...the horrible reality of a "war in a desert"...gives this film another subtext for the viewer, and makes it all the more gripping.
Yes, there are the standard war-movie subplots, but for the most part, there's a lot of uncommonly good elements to this movie. The Aussie aspect, the procedural details to the raids and attacks. It's constantly involving...
Consider this a safe bet for war film fans, and an equally safe bet for those who simply enjoy a good story well told.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
IN A NUTSHELL: A GLIMPSE INTO DESERT WARFARE

Former editor, turned up-and-coming director, Robert Wise, essentially turns an otherwise fairly standard world war 2 yarn into a classic war film. Tight editing, decent special effects, a good screenplay plus compelling action scenes led by Burton, alongside an able British and Aussie sounding cast, lift "The Desert Rats" to cinematic respectability.

"The Desert Rats" delivers in the action department with a frontal Panzer attack in the opening minutes of the film and tries to keep up the pace for 88 minutes.

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT

Richard Burton [Lt. Colonel MacRoberts] is a hard-nose officer in the British Eighth Army. He's entrenched at Tobruk and battling Rommel's Africa Corp. Hastily placed in charge of a newly arrived, green Australian unit, MacRoberts keeps tight discipline and asks the impossible of his men. Nevertheless, the results for McRoberts are surprisingly good as he and his men play their roles in continuing the defensive efforts at Tobruk for more than 8 months against Rommel. In good story telling form, we see the action more than hear about it, and it is all rather believably depicted.

Probably for the audiences benefit, MacRoberts is temporarily captured by the Germans in a night raid, where, while having a wound field dressed, he meets and defiantly dares Rommel [James Mason], "if you can crush Tobruk - then crush it!"

Afterwards, amidst a nice action scene where the German truck carrying the allied prisoners is strafed by Spitfires, MacRoberts escapes and returns too easily to the allied side, across enemy lines.

--- *THE PLAYERS* ---

Richard Burton - Capt.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars burton's best August 25, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Plenty of action. One of Burton's finest performances in a war drama. A must see for anyone who likes war pictures. Very convincing. James Mason also portrays a fine role as "The Desertfox" once again.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Desert Heroes December 19, 2002
Format:DVD
If you enjoy WWII movies you certainly want to catch this one with Richard Burton and James Mason. The cast, sets, and music are great. It is true classic WWII movie. Even if you aren't a war movie fan if you enjoy documentaries about the war you will enjoy this well told story of the battle for Tobruk. I was never a big fan of Burton's but I think he did a good job in this movie and "Where Eagles Dare".
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ode to the defenders of Tobruk December 17, 2005
Format:DVD
Richard Burton playing English captain Tammy MacRoberts is solid in the well done WW2 flick "The Desert Rats". Burton is assigned to mold a group of green Australian recruits shipped into the besieged garrison of Tobruk during the 1941 offensive push of Fieldmarshal Rommel through North Africa. The stern Burton is tough yet efficient but certainly not loved by the fun loving Aussies, who balk at his regimented ways.

Rommel played by the talented James Mason, who despite his Britsh roots utters most of his lines in authentic sounding German. His German accent when speaking English holds up very well. Rommel is compelled to conquer Tobruk in his plan to conquer Egypt and control the Suez Canal. The troops deployed there however using underground shelters built into the flat desert landscape doggedly withstand the nerve wracking and continual artillery shelling.

They hold out for eight months styming Rommel's attempt to overrun their defenses. Although "The Desert Rats" was released eight years after the war in 1953, the film serves as a tribute to the brave men that served there.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Rats of Tobruk! April 2, 2005
Format:DVD
The Desert Rats is an awsome film and should be watched by any War movie buff. Richard Burton is great as the tough MacRoberts and James Mason again plays Rommel to perfection. Even better there is a scene where Burton lectures Rommel on the importance on the defense of Tobruk. I was actually surprised at the quality of the battle scenes, the sound, the picture quality, and all the co-statrs were even convincing. The only annoying part of the movie is the feelings between the Aussies and MacRoberts but oh well its not that bad. This movie blew me away and I hope it does the same for you.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Epic Struggle in the Desert August 25, 2005
Format:DVD
Richard Burton and James Mason star in this film about a group of highly outnumbered men who put a stop to Rommel's advance in North Africa.

Burton stars as Colonel MacRoberts, an Englishman who is assigned to the Australian garrison who's job it is to hold the town of Tobruk. If Tobruk were to fall into the hands of the Germans, Rommel would have a clear path to the Suez Canal, and ultimate control of all of North Africa. Mason stars as Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. His vaunted Africa Korps have been wreaking havoc against the British and now the Brits are in full retreat. Their last holdout is Tobruk.

Facing overwhelming odds, the defenders of Tobruk, led by MacRoberts, have resorted to a series of hit-and-run raids ot frustrate the Germans while the rest of the British army regroups near Cairo. Promised relief by the British forces, the besieged at Tobruk manage to hold out for nearly nine months against constant shelling and tank attacks. Finally, at the point of nearly pulling out, the Australian garrison is finally relieved by the British.

Generally, I thought this was a slightly above average film. James Mason's character of Rommel is hardly included in the movie at all; Burton's character of MacRoberts is the centerpiece of the film. As for the battle scenes, they are somewhat subpar as opposed to other movies I've seen. The action just isn't that great, and the actual combat lacks in authenticity and intensity. Still, I did enjoy this movie. Not knowing much about this specific theatre of combat, I did learn some things that I didn't know before. Also, I thought Richard Burton did a credible job in his role as MacRoberts. I think Mason's portrayal of Rommel was handled poorly, and I wish he could have been in more parts of the movie. I think people will enjoy this movie. It describes a lesser-known theatre of the war, and showcases how a small group of determined soldiers held out against a much larger enemy force.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
No comment
Published 5 days ago by Jerry G
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A very exlante movie, beter than I thought it would be. Thank you so much.
Published 6 days ago by john zink
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a good war movie
This is a good war movie, and may be helpful as well as interesting. War has no winners. If you like war movies that are realistic, I think this one is much better than many I have... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Mickey
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have
Goes right along with our other war movies.
Published 20 days ago by Janet Danilow
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
ok movie
Published 28 days ago by Kathy Nicholas
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good
Published 28 days ago by richard
3.0 out of 5 stars a typical war story with one major difference:
its focus is on one small battalion of Assies who are asked to indure more than what seems humanly possible to hold off Rommmel's progress even though they are sadly out numbered... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jackie Pike
4.0 out of 5 stars War film
Lovely film about the ANZACS fighting the Germans in North Africa at the battle for Tobruk. Gives a nice if somewhat stereotyped view of the Aussies but the writing and action is... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Frederick Jee
4.0 out of 5 stars The Defense of Tobruk
The Desert Rats, 1953 film

Australian soldiers protected Tobruk against the German Army, which bypassed them on the way to Cairo and the Suez Canal. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Acute Observer
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic WW11 movie.
I am a fan of historical WW2 movies and this is one of the best. As usual Burton and Mason play their roles quite naturally and believable. Really good special effects. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ronald P. Saunders
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