1950s The Desert Rats (1953)

Published on July 3rd, 2012 | by Chris

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The Desert Rats (1953)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On July 3, 2012
Last modified:October 3, 2012

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.


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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Description

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...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: 20TH CENTURY FOX HOME ENTMNT
Manufacturer: 20th Century Fox
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Richard Burton
  • James Mason
  • Robert Newton
  • Robert Douglas
  • Torin Thatcher

Features

  • Factory sealed DVD

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent war drama, with timely elements, March 27, 2003
By 
M J Heilbron Jr. "Dr. Mo" (Long Beach, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Desert Rats (DVD)
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.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A GLIMPSE INTO DESERT WARFARE WITH BURTON & MASON AS OUR TOUR GUIDES, June 5, 2006
This review is from: The Desert Rats (DVD)
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... Read more
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars burton's best, August 25, 2000
By 
Leonard Anseaume Jr. (North Little Rock, Arkansas United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Desert Rats [VHS] (VHS Tape)
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.
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The Desert Rats (1953) Chris

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.

3.5


User Rating: 0 (0 votes)


About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



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