The Desert Rats
Released – May, 1953
Directed By – Robert Wise
Starring – Richard Burton (Capt. ‘Tammy’ MacRoberts), James Mason (Field Marshal Erwin von Rommel), Robert Newton (Tom Bartlett).
Description – They crawled their way across the blazing sands of Africa …to turn disaster into victory!
Africa, 1941, German Field Marshall Erwin von Rommel and his Afrika Korps have driven the British Army across Africa toward the Suez Canal. Only one thing may stand in the way of his success; the port city of Tobruk. Rommel must control Tobruk in order to insure his supply lines.
Defending the port will be the 9th Australian Division under the command of English Capt. ‘Tammy’ MacRoberts. The tension is immediate as the inexperienced Australian troops must deal with the no no-nsense commander. Their mission is to hold the port for two months when they will be relieved.
With the help of a desert sandstorm the group is able to repel the first attack by the Germans; however, the situation is desperate. With the German Army moving up a large amount of artillery another attack is imminent. One they may not be able to defend.
MacRoberts decides to use some abandoned trucks to help blow up the artillery ammunition dump. His plan works, but he is captured and brought to Rommel.
While transporting MacRoberts and the other prisoners the Germans are attacked by British fighter aircraft. This allows MacRoberts and one of his men to escape. They barely get across the desert and back to their men.
The Austrailian’s have now been holding Tobruk, not for two months, but for eight. Word finally comes that help is on the way, but not before the embattled group is given another seemingly impossible mission.
NOTABLE: The Desert Rats received one Academy Award nomination for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay.
In 1951, James Mason also portrayed Field Marshal Rommel in the film The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel.