The Desert Rats
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A good story with decent acting. God Bless the Aussies for their determination in the fight.Published 4 hours ago by Christopher A. Carbott
Good movie. Gets right to the fact that this war is a winner take all. You do what you must in order to win, and fight even if the reinforcement don't came. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Ben Watson
Sure, it's not historically accurate but, who cares. It's got Richard Burton in one of his memorable over acting speeches to James Mason. "Cognac for the Field Marshal". Read morePublished 4 months ago by Roger Safian
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