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The Desert Rats
The Desert Rats
Actors: Richard Burton, James Mason, Robert Newton, Robert Douglas, Torin Thatcher
Director: Robert Wise
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Military & War
NR     2002     1hr 28min

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 st...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Richard Burton, James Mason, Robert Newton, Robert Douglas, Torin Thatcher
Director: Robert Wise
Creators: Lucien Ballard, Barbara McLean, Robert L. Jacks, Richard Murphy
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Classics, Drama, Military & War
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 05/21/2002
Original Release Date: 05/20/1953
Theatrical Release Date: 05/20/1953
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 28min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

An excellent war drama, with timely elements
M J Heilbron Jr. | Long Beach, CA United States | 03/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"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."
Desert Heroes
C. A. Luster | Burke, VA USA | 12/19/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)

"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"."
A GLIMPSE INTO DESERT WARFARE WITH BURTON & MASON AS OUR TOU
Heather L. Parisi | St. Augustine, FL USA | 06/05/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"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. MacRoberts
Robert Newton - Bartlett
Robert Douglas - General
James Mason - Rommel
Torin Thatcher - Barney
Chips Rafferty - Smith
Charles "Bud" Tingwell - Lt. Carstairs

The film is narrated throughout by what I believe is the voice of Michael Rennie, who played "Klaatu" in the "Day the Earth Stood Still" and was a "voice" in the preceding "The Desert Fox", 1951.

---* THE PRODUCTION CREDITS *---

Robert Wise - Director [WEST SIDE STORY, SOUND OF MUSIC, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL & EDITOR OF "CITIZEN KANE"]
Robert L. Jacks - Producer
Richard Murphy - Screenwriter [Nominated for ACADEMY AWARD - BEST SCREENPLAY]
Lucien Ballard - Cinematographer
Leigh Harline - Composer (Music Score)
Alfred Newman - Composer (Music Score)
Barbara McLean - Editor
Addison Hehr - Art Director
Lyle Wheeler - Art Director
Ray Kellogg - Special Effects [between 1950-1955 did effects for about 50 feature films, ended with Tora!Tora!Tora!, 1970]

BOTTOM LINE: "THE DESERT RATS" - SIMPLY A TIGHT WELL DONE WAR DRAMA

This simple film holds up well [now 54 years] on the foundation of an excellent screen play. Burton, Mason and Wise really team-up well to keep this film really tight and mostly filled with relevant and exciting action for 88 minutes.
"
Burton's best
Leonard Anseaume Jr. | North Little Rock, Arkansas United States | 08/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."