The Desert Rats (1953)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

The Desert Rats was a quickly assembled follow-up to 20th Century-Fox's successful war film The Desert Fox. Richard Burton plays an officer in the British Eighth Army, battling Rommel's forces in defense of Tobruk. Put in charge of an Australian unit, Burton rides his men ruthlessly, with laudatory results. He is briefly captured by the Nazis and questioned by General Rommel himself, but Burton escapes to lead his surviving troops to safety. James Mason, who portrayed Rommel in The Desert Fox, makes a guest appearance in the same role in The Desert Rats. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Action & Adventure , Classics
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Richard Burton
as Capt. 'Tammy' MacRoberts
Robert Newton
as Tom Bartlett
James Mason
as Field Marshal Erwin von Rommel
Robert Douglas
as General
Charles 'Bud' Tingwell
as Lt. Carstairs
Ben Wright
as Mick
James Lilburn
as Communications
Ray Harden
as Hugh
Michael Pate
as Capt. Currie
Frank Pulaski
as Maj. O'Rourke
Charles R. Keane
as Sgt. Donaldson
Albert Taylor
as Jensen
John Wengraf
as German Doctor
Arno Frey
as Kramm
Alfred Zeisler
as Von Helmholtz
Charles FitzSimons
as Fire Officer
Charles Fitzsimmons
as Fire Officer
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Critic Reviews for The Desert Rats

All Critics (5)

Looks just like many other war films that salute the glories of war.

Full Review… | May 4, 2005
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Doesn't fare very well as a work of cinema, but if you take it as a fictionalised History channel documentary, you might find it compelling.

July 27, 2002
Apollo Guide

Quote not available.

June 12, 2005

Quote not available.

July 29, 2004
One Guy's Opinion

Quote not available.

October 31, 2003
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Audience Reviews for The Desert Rats


"Come desert rats!" A soldier that no one wanted as a leader that soon gain respect from many men. What a grand performance from Richard Burton, one of the greatest actors that had ever lived in Hollywood history. He had shown great leadership in this film from beginning to end. There were a few flaws in today's standard of acting; such as the dramatic deaths and knowing when killing a man he does not make such much noise, but the story itself helped this film move along. A war story that can not truly be missed!

Sean Read
Sean Read

Sequel to The Desert Fox, based on the true-life exploits of Australian infantrymen in the North African campaign of WWII. James Mason is again Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, this time matching wits with Richard Burton during the legendary siege of Tobruk. A solid combat-action film typical of the genre throughout the 1950s and early 1960s.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer


A semi-sequel to The Desert Fox, The Desert Rats sees James Mason reprise his role as Field Marshal Rommel who meets his match in the form of British field officer Richard Burton during the siege of Tobruk. Mason and Burton are two of the greats of British acting and it's well worth seeing this film just to see them together, although the scene in which they meet is all too brief. In fact I'd like to have seen a lot more of Rommel who although is not as revered as in the previous film (for this one, he is the enemy after all) but is still shown as a figure to be respected. As a whole it's a rather old fashioned tale of boy's own derring-do rather than a gritty anti-war story, and if taken as such is very enjoyable. The old story of a grudging company of men learning to respect their new commander is hardly an original one but it's an exciting tale of wartime bravery shot in atmospheric black and white.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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