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Desert Rats
     

The Desert Rats

4.0 2
Director: Robert Wise

Cast: Richard Burton, Robert Newton, Robert Douglas

 

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The Desert Rats was a quickly assembled follow-up to 20th Century-Fox's successful war film The Desert Fox. Richard Burton plays an officer in the British Eighth Army, battling Rommel's forces in defense of Tobruk. Put in charge of an Australian unit, Burton rides his men ruthlessly, with laudatory results. He is briefly captured by the Nazis and

Overview

The Desert Rats was a quickly assembled follow-up to 20th Century-Fox's successful war film The Desert Fox. Richard Burton plays an officer in the British Eighth Army, battling Rommel's forces in defense of Tobruk. Put in charge of an Australian unit, Burton rides his men ruthlessly, with laudatory results. He is briefly captured by the Nazis and questioned by General Rommel himself, but Burton escapes to lead his surviving troops to safety. James Mason, who portrayed Rommel in The Desert Fox, makes a guest appearance in the same role in The Desert Rats.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
The Desert Rats has never had much of a reputation as a movie, mostly because it has always stood in the shadow of the preceding Fox film The Desert Fox. Additionally, it comes from a period in director Robert Wise's career in which, apart from unusual scripts such as The Day the Earth Stood Still, he is perceived as having been locked into conventional film subjects. However, without considering the preceding movie, The Desert Rats turns out to be a very respectable film -- Burton was fresh and unmannered in his acting in those early days, and he responded sympathetically to the well-written part of MacRoberts. Equally important to the film's success -- though overlooked by the critics -- Robert Newton turns in one of his last really solid lead performances, dominating the screen in most of his scenes despite the fact that he hardly ever uses his trademark booming voice; instead, he gives one of the more understated performances of his later career, and one of the most memorable as well. And then there's James Mason, reprising the role of Rommel from The Desert Fox. There are many well-acted scenes throughout the movie; most critics felt that the best scene is 61 minutes in when Burton and Mason's characters confront each other; however, critics ignored a quartet of brilliant scenes between Burton and Newton elsewhere in the movie, which are just as good and every bit as satisfying, particularly their final scene together 78 minutes in, which is also the dramatic pay-off of the picture. There are some structural problems with the movie, to be sure, including an over-reliance on a narrator to bridge extended passages of time, one or two scenes are too studio-bound, and some dramatic moments are inserted too abruptly into the action. But generally this is a satisfying film that even finds room for several exciting action sequences, including the initial German tank attack out of a sand storm on the British position, the British commando raid of a German ammo dump, and a shot of a British plane pursuing and strafing a German truck, seen from the point of view of the back of the truck. Chips Rafferty and several other supporting players also add an authentic Australian presence to the mix.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/21/2002
UPC:
0024543041900
Original Release:
1953
Rating:
NR
Source:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[B&W]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Mono, Dolby Digital Stereo]
Time:
1:28:00

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard Burton Capt. MacRoberts
Robert Newton Bartlett
Robert Douglas General
James Mason Rommel
Torin Thatcher Barney
Chips Rafferty Smith
Charles "Bud" Tingwell Lt. Carstairs
Charles Davis Pete
Ben Wright Mick
James Lilburn Communications
John O'Malley Riley
Ray Harden Hugh
John Alderson Corporal
Richard Peel Rusty
Michael Pate Captain Currie
Frank Pulaski Maj. O'Rourke
Charles R. Keane Sgt. Donaldson
Pat O'Moore Jim
John Wengraf German Doctor
Arno Frey Kramm
Charles Fitzsimmons Fire Officer
Alfred Zeisler Von Helmholtz
Albert Taylor Jensen

Technical Credits
Robert Wise Director
Lucien Ballard Cinematographer
Leigh Harline Score Composer
Addison Hehr Art Director
Robert L. Jacks Producer
Ray Kellogg Special Effects
Barbara McLean Editor
Richard Murphy Screenwriter
Alfred Newman Score Composer
Lyle Wheeler Art Director

Customer Reviews

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The Desert Rats 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seeing this movie was a great way to re-connect to "old school" actors. Richard Burton's performance was inspiring. This was one of the first great war movies!