James Mason delivers a strong performance in this fascinating portrait of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. In the early 1940's, Rommel's juggernaut Afrika Korps dominated North Africa. But as the tide turned and he came to the ... more »painful realization that his Fuhrer, to whom he hd sworn allegiance, was destroying Germany, his ingrained sense of duty pushed him into a conspiracy against Hitler. Co-starring Jessica Tandy as Rommel's wife and Cedric Hardwicke as another anti-Hitler conspirator, The Desert Fox is an intimate look at one of the most respected military tacticians of modern times.« less
Jean W. from JORDANVILLE, NY Reviewed on 12/2/2010...
really good movie about Rommel. History buffs should be especially interested. Very well done.
English actor, James Mason, makes a great Rommel.
M. A. Treu | Bordentown, NJ USA | 07/23/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Originally copyright by 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, in 1951, only six years after the end of World War Two, this black and white film gives a shallow overview of the last years of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel: the Desert Fox.Once you get past the opening rather stagey scenes, of British commandos raiding a German headquarters building in north Africa, hoping to kill the Desert Fox in his lair, the rest of the film is carried along guite well, by the great performance of James Mason, as Rommel. This performance is the only reason I rated this film as four stars, without Mason I would have been disapointed.Other members of the cast do fine jobs too, notably Cedric Hardwicke and Leo G. Carroll. One can find good entertainment based on real events. D-Day: the invasion of Normandy, is a highlight of this film. There are several minutes of what appears to be genuine newsreel footage of the storming of the beaches: the ships off shore, the guns, the planes, brave men falling. It's all very real at this point."The Desert Fox" was made in an era when the directors, producers, and the Hollywood Establishment in general, were less preachy, and less likely to distort the truth in order to promote a social agenda. That is a big plus for this film.On the down side: the film starts off with several undisclosed advertisements for other videos, of like kind, by Fox. This is borderline dishonest, as consumers have paid for entertainment and expect it to be commercial free. At the very least, the ads should be disclosed, before anyone makes a purchaseing decision.All in all, "The Desert Fox" is good entertainment and deserves a look."
DVD features a nice transfer of a great film
Darren Harrison | Washington D.C. | 04/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I recently saw an advance review copy of the DVD "The Desert Fox" and I was surprised at the nice quality of the transfer of what is an exceptional movie. Based on the exploits of the famed German general Erwin Rommel the DVD has a crisp clean transfer. Included on this disc is the original theatrical trailer which remarkably, considering it's age, is also reproduced here in relatively good condition.
Considering it's low price this addition to the Fox War Classics catalog is easy to recommend."
Not enough action
David C. Read | Glendale, CA USA | 12/08/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is misleadingly named. Although Rommel was indeed the commander of Germany's Afrika Corp in World War II, and there earned a reputation as a master tactician, that is not what this movie is about. Two-thirds of this movie's 88 minute length focuses on Rommel's minor role in a conspiracy to kill Hitler. The conspiracy failed, and Rommel eventually paid with his life for his involvement. (In truth, Rommel was lucky. The other conspirators were hanged on piano wire and died a painful death. Because he had been built up into a national hero, Rommel was given the opportunity to take poison, and the public was told he died of war wounds.I'm afraid most viewers, jaded by modern F/X and action laden efforts like Saving Private Ryan, will be disappointed with this rather inexpensively made effort from 1951. There is very little action other than a commando raid during the first five minutes of the movie. The little remaining action is actual stock footage of the war, skillfully cut into the film. The movie is very talky, focusing on Rommel's relationship with his wife and son, Field Marshal Von Rundstedt, and Adolph Hitler. I have to admit that when I watched an early scene that showed Rommel in North Africa, wearing a long black leather overcoat consulting with his officers, I said to myself "pure Hollywood! there is no way he would have been wearing that in the hot desert." Then I went to my library and consulted a book on Rommel, lavishly illustrated with photographs. Not only was Rommel wearing the black leather overcoat, he was dressed precisely as depicted in the movie. There is also a remarkable resemblance between Rommel and James Mason, who does an outstanding job portraying Rommel in the movie. The moviemakers got it right, and I was wrong."
A tale of a great fox and many rats
John Elsegood | Merredin, Western Australia | 08/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is interesting how often the losing sides in great conflicts often throw-up great military leaders. Just as the Confederacy had Robert E Lee in the Civil War so too did the German Wehrmacht, in WWII, have the military genius of Erwin Rommel.
This 1951 classic has British actor James Mason in the lead, and flanked, by Cedric Hardwicke (Dr Karl Strolin, mayor of Stuttgart), Jessica Tandy (Frau Lucie Rommel), Leo G Carroll (Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt) who all give fine performances. Cameo appearances come from Rommel biographer Desmond Young, who plays himself, as a captured British officer in North Africa at the start of the film's action, and footage of US Generals, Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton (waving at tank crews).
The film traces Rommel's growing disenchantment with Hitler (Luther Adler) and the encroachment of the Nazi police state on the life of its citizens - revealed in guarded conversations between Rommel and his friend Mayor Strolin, (the latter also giving a gestapo spy the slip) and Rommel and von Rundstedt.
This disillusionment is clearly seen in the two separate conversations between Rommel and Dr Strolin -the first in a hospital ward where Rommel is clearly more up-beat and later in Rommel's study, where the conversation is more strained and indeed aggressive between the two old friends.
The destruction of the Rommel family unit is a poignant moment as Rommel goes to his death (via self induced poison) to safeguard the lives of his wife and son. The Fuhrer honours the fallen hero of the Reich with a state funeral after he 'had succumbed to war injuries' -fulfilling his 'bargain' that if Rommel went quietly nothing would happen to his family.
The reason this dreadful scene came to fruition was that Rommel was implicated in the 1944 bomb plot (of 20 July) against Hitler but unlike some of the other conspirators, who ended up on meat hooks, the Fuhrer did not want the scandal of a trial involving the hero of the Afrika Korps.
Ironically Rommel, also narrowly escaped death in July 1944, just 3 days earlier than the attempt on the life of Hitler, when his staff car was attacked by a Canadian fighter pilot, leaving the Field Marshal injured and hospitalised.
The film is basically real to life although Manfred Rommel in the film is portrayed as a naive 15 year old unaware of the dreadful fate of his father as the Field Marshal exits the family home for the last time.
In reality, the son knew that his father was being driven to his pre-arranged doom by the two military emissaries acting under instructions from the Fuhrer.
This is a fine film made only six years after the end of WWII -and is a sympathetic documentation of the events surrounding the life and times of the famed Desert Fox, Erwin Rommel."
A Proper Tribute To The Desert Fox
Octavius | United States | 07/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Henry Hathaway's 1951 film on Erwin Rommel, Nazi Germany's most brilliant tactician whose indirect involvement in a failed plot to assassinate Hitler resulted in his untimely death.
The film is a character study and focuses more on Rommel's relationship with Hitler and the German High Command as opposed to his achievements as a military tactician. Because the nature of his death wasn't very well known at that time, the film focuses on Rommel's deteriorating relationship with Hitler and his eventual participation in the assassination plot. This is normal since, with the film being made only 6 years after the end of WWII, audiences would have been quite unreceptive to a film glorifying a German general's military exploits against allied forces.
All in all, James Mason delivers a brilliant performance as a man who is struggling with his conscience. Is his duty as a general to just obey Hitler or to protect Germany from destruction? What should he do when Hitler's megalomania is a greater threat to Germany than the Allies themselves? How can he be a good soldier and live with himself by committing treason: even if treason is the only logical alternative? Although the film isn't entirely accurate in its history, it succeeds in capturing all of the internal conflicts Rommel must have suffered in deciding what to do. The film is also accurate in portraying the impossible dilemma faced by Von Runstedt and others in the German High Command with Hitler's incessant meddling in military planning and execution. As the movie shows, by 1944 Hitler assumed direct control of virtually all military operations in the major theaters with disastrous results (i.e. insisting that most heavy guns and panzer divisions remain in Calais even when the D-Day invasion was well underway). This dilemma was dealt with humor in the movie when Von Runsted sarcastically tells Rommel about how corporals (i.e. Hitler) are such brilliant strategists and tacticians who clearly know far more about waging war than your run-of-the-mill Field Marshalls: "You know how rigid those corporals can be."
Altogether a great film that sheds light on the character of one of the greatest military tacticians of the 20th Century. A film not to be missed.