Published on July 3rd, 2012 | by Chris0
The Desert Rats (1953)
Billed as a sequel to 1951's The Desert Fox, mainly on James Mason's reprisal of his role as General Erwin Rommel, The Desert Rats follows a band of Australians as they struggle to hold their position against the ever-increasing Nazi presence in North Africa in 1941.
And the overall verdict is that this is really a pretty damned good movie. Without going into too much detail, and spoiling it (although there isn't much to spoil)... it does not have that same 1950's "cheese" factor that was so prevalent.
Richard Burton's presence as English Capt. "Tammy" MacRoberts, along with his unlikely relationship to former teacher, now subordinate Private Tom Bartlett (Robert Newton) lend a certain depth to the story that would not have been there otherwise. Plenty of relevant introspection on the nature of war, and aging, and a few other things....
But for a 1953 picture, The Desert Rats does as much as it can during the combat scenes. They are as "real" as I think they would have allowed them to get back then. At least I was surprised at every turn by the non-predictable action and grade-A production. Even the sound didn't have much of the usual 50's "canned" feel to it.
As a tribute to the oft-overlooked Australian (and other allied) contributions to the war, especially in Africa, this picture really shines. And its just as a good Saturday afternoon matinee.
If there was a flaw, it was that the German dialogue was not subtitled. A step up from the British-accented English of the Germans in The Desert Fox, but it would have been helpful to know what they were saying. My German isn't that good. Maybe this was due to Netflix' instant streaming and a flaw with this program, I don't know. Still a black mark, but its still good enough to warrant a solid 7/10.
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Summary: The Desert Rats follows a band of Australians as they struggle to hold their position against the ever-increasing Nazi presence in North Africa in 1941.