Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Desert Rats (1953)

Director: Robert Wise

Writer: Richard Murphy

Composer: Leigh Harline

Starring: Richard Burton, James Mason, Robert Newton, Robert Douglas, Torin Thatcher, Chips Rafferty, Charles 'Bud' Tingwell, Charles Davis, Ben Wright

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They crawled their way across the blazing sands of Africa... to turn disaster into victory!

Plot: Richard Burton plays a Scottish Army officer put in charge of a disparate band of ANZAC troops on the perimeter of Tobruk with the German Army doing their best to dislodge them.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

I love WWII pictures like this and there were some great ones churned out in the 50s and 60s.  Richard Burton excels in roles like this.  Sure, he chews up some scenery sometimes but you also get moments of greatness.  The supporting cast in these types of films is crucial and they rarely disappoint.  Having James Mason back as Field Marshal Erwin Johannes Rommel is genius.  He first starred as Rommel in the very good THE DESERT FOX: THE STORY OF ROMMEL (1951) just two years earlier.  Here he has a couple of extended scenes where he steals the show.  He also performs the part speaking excellent and effortless German.  That's off the charts awesome.  Who does that nowadays?  It's no surprise that Mason and Burton were British.  After all, they invented acting.  There's plenty of action and strategy to keep dudes like me interested but it's the performances and the war drama that really make this a fine film and a great companion piece to THE DESERT FOX.

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