The Desert Rats

Watch The Desert Rats

"They crawled their way across the blazing sands of Africa... to turn disaster into victory!"
  • Approved
  • 1953
  • 1 hr 28 min
  • 6.7  (5,293)

The Desert Rats is a war drama film released in 1953, directed by Robert Wise and starring Richard Burton, James Mason, and Robert Newton. The film is set in 1941 during the height of World War II, in the North African desert. It is a rare example of a standalone sequel to a different film, namely the classic war film, The Desert Fox.

The story revolves around the British 9th Armoured Brigade, a group of men trying to hold off the advancing German army under General Rommel. They take up a defensive position in the city of Tobruk, hoping to deny the Germans access to the valuable harbor there. Burton plays the role of Captain "Tammy" MacRoberts, a Scottish officer tasked with leading the defensive effort against Rommel's Panzer division.

As the movie begins, Captain MacRoberts is introduced to the viewer as a newly arrived officer who has replaced the former commander, who was killed in action. Initially, the British soldiers are skeptical of MacRoberts and assume that he is inexperienced, but he soon proves himself to be a capable and savvy leader. The soldiers begin to respect him as he works tirelessly to improve their morale and prepare them for the impending battle.

The tension builds throughout the movie as the German army closes in on Tobruk. The soldiers of the 9th Brigade are outnumbered and outgunned, but they are determined to hold their ground. The viewer is taken on a realistic journey of the harsh desert conditions and the strategic decisions that were made by both sides. The high-stakes battle scenes are meticulously choreographed, and the viewer can feel the grit and determination of the soldiers as they fight for their lives and the cause of freedom.

One of the standout performances in the movie is delivered by James Mason, who plays the role of the famous German field marshal, Erwin Rommel. Mason's portrayal of the enemy general is not overtly villainous, and instead, he is depicted as a formidable opponent who is both intelligent and strategic. The scenes between Burton and Mason are particularly notable, as both deliver powerhouse performances that set the tone for the movie.

Robert Newton delivers an excellent performance as Sergeant-Major Tom Bartlett. Bartlett is a veteran of the conflict, and he helps to keep the morale of the troops high. He is also the voice of reason, often providing the much-needed wisdom in moments of confusion or despair.

Overall, The Desert Rats is a captivating and intense movie that provides a realistic portrayal of World War II's North African campaign. The movie is well-paced, with excellent direction, cinematography, and a strong cast of actors. It is one of the better examples of the genre and is a must-watch for anyone interested in the history of that period.

The Desert Rats is a 1953 action movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 28 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.7.

The Desert Rats
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 28 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.7  (5,293)