The Desert Fox (1951) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Desert Fox (1951)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

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Movie Info

The Desert Fox is a superb filmed biography of German general Erwin Rommel, concentrating on the period between his retreat from North Africa and his government-decreed death. A brilliant tactician, Rommel earns the respect not only of his own men but of the enemy. Unfortunately, Adolph Hitler (Luther Adler), laboring under the delusion that he too is a military genius, demands more of Rommel than he's able to provide. Ordered to stand his ground in Africa to the last man, Rommel realizes that it's more intelligent in the long run to retreat; this incurs Hitler's wrath, but Rommel is a war hero, and as such is virtually "untouchable". Increasingly disgusted by Hitler's behavior, Rommel joins in a plot to assassinate the Fuhrer. The attempt fails, and Rommel's complicity is discovered. He is given a choice: either face a horrible death by torture, or commit suicide, thereby saving his family and his reputation. Rommel opts for the latter; the official story given to the press is that Rommel died heroically of his war wounds. Also appearing in The Desert Fox are Jessica Tandy as Rommel's wife and Leo G. Carroll as an insufferably aristocratic Von Ruhnstedt. The film caused a critical stir in 1951 by providing a tense ten-minute dramatic sequence before the opening credits--a technique that is all but de rigueur today. The Desert Fox was based on the book by Brigadier Desmond Young, who narrates the film and appears as himself in the early scenes.
Rating:
NR
Genre:
Action & Adventure , Classics , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
20th Century Fox Film Corporation

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Cast

James Mason
as Erwin Rommel
Cedric Hardwicke
as Dr. Karl Strolin
Jessica Tandy
as Frau Rommel
Luther Adler
as Adolf Hitler
Everett Sloane
as Gen. Burgdorf
Leo G Carroll
as Field Marshal Von Rundstedt
George Macready
as Gen. Fritz Bayerlein
Richard Boone
as Aldinger
Eduard Franz
as Col. Von Stauffenberg
Desmond Young
as Himself
William Reynolds
as Manfred Rommel
Charles Evans
as Gen. Schultz
Walter Kingsford
as Admiral Ruge
John Hoyt
as Keitel
Don de Leo
as Gen. Maisel
Richard Elmore
as Rommel's Driver in Africa
John Vosper
as Maj. Walker
Dan O'Herlihy
as Commando Captain
Scott Forbes
as Commando Colonel
Victor Wood
as British medic
Lester Matthews
as British officer
Paul Cavanagh
as Col. Von Hofaker
Carleton Young
as German Major
Freeman Lusk
as German surgeon
Robert Coote
as British Medical Officer
Michael Rennie
as Desmond Young
Lumsden Hare
as Doctor
Ivan Triesault
as German Major
Trevor Ward
as Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery
Philip Van Zandt
as German S.S. Man at Hospital
Peter van Eyck
as German officer
John W. Goldsworthy
as Gen. Heinrich von Stulpnagel
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Critic Reviews for The Desert Fox

All Critics (7)

The purpose of the book and movie is not to tell the complete story of Rommel's life, but to set the historical record straight about his death.

Full Review… | June 6, 2011
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

It's sympathetic of the legendary Nazi general to the point it makes him an heroic figure.

Full Review… | May 24, 2010
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Mason is great as the Nazi tank commander.

January 3, 2005
Kansas City Kansan

Audience Reviews for The Desert Fox

½

a decent but busy film that mostly is accurate, but features very little of Rommel's legendary battlefield tactics and record, and mostly focuses on his disagreement with Hitler and support of the conspirators.

Eric Jenkins
Eric Jenkins

The first of two appearances by James Mason in one of his defining roles as Erwin Rommel, telling the story of his life from hero of the third reich through to his eventual disillusionment with Hitler and involvement in the plot on his life. No doubt inspired by Churchill's wartime tribute to the man, The Desert Fox is an acknowledgement of the skill and integrity of one of the world's greatest military tacticians which takes great pains to distance him from Hitler and the Nazi party. It is a typically romantic British attempt to be graceful in victory and is clearly meant as an attempt at reconciliation with Germany and its people; the story vehemently shows that Rommel and many of his colleagues were merely professional soldiers doing their duty to their country, unwillingly following the orders of a maniacal tyrant whom they had to obey under pain of death. It is basically de-dehumanizing an enemy that wartime propaganda had spent the previous years rallying the British public against. Mason is superb in the leading role, and every scene that features the exchanges between he and an excellent supporting cast paint a believable and respectful portrait of the man. Unfortunately the pacing stutters as it constantly feels the need to show the gallant allied forces through actual documentary footage and Michael Rennie's voice over makes this biopic feel like a dry inventory of the events of his life, but it's a fascinating story and worth it for Mason's performance alone.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

½

The many strong performances, and especially Mason's, are still more than enough to keep a viewer watching, but in other regards this movie definitely shows its age; particularly the wooden narration, the use of obvious stock footage, and cheap sets interspersed with the extravagant ones. To its credit, this film avoids the patriotic one-sidedness common of war flicks of the era and pays a very reverential examination to this intriguing and undeniably brilliant military leader.

Ben Ritchie
Ben Ritchie

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