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on October 15, 2013
James Mason's performanace in The Desert Fox makes you believe he is Erwin Rommel. Much of the film is about Rommel's decision to participate in the assassination plot against Adolf Hitler. For military buffs, the film doesn't delve into what made Rommel such a great tank commander and strategist. Still the movie is quite compelling.
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on November 19, 2003
Both these movies have James Mason playing the part of General Erwin Rommell. The Desert Rats is the story of Australian Infantry under the command of a British Officer (Richard Burton)who although out numbered and out gunned delay the advance of Rommell's Afrika Corps outside of Tobruk until the British Relief Column arrives. Almost like a sequel to The Desert Rats is the story of The Desert Fox. This story is told through the eyes of an ex-British Officer who after the war tries to find out exactly how and why Rommell died under the Nazi Regime. The story reveals how an unwell Rommell, recently returned from the middle east campaign is invited to join the plot to kill Hitler. It shows Rommell's battle of conscience over his loyalty to an insane leader and his knowledge of the plot for that leader's assassination. Although he will not support the plot to kill Hitler, Rommell will not turn the conspirators in either - a decision that would cost him his life.
I strongly recommend the purchase of both these movies.
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on July 23, 2000
Originally copyright by 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, in 1951, only six years after the end of World War Two, this black and white film gives a shallow overview of the last years of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel: the Desert Fox.
Once you get past the opening rather stagey scenes, of British commandos raiding a German headquarters building in north Africa, hoping to kill the Desert Fox in his lair, the rest of the film is carried along guite well, by the great performance of James Mason, as Rommel. This performance is the only reason I rated this film as four stars, without Mason I would have been disapointed.
Other members of the cast do fine jobs too, notably Cedric Hardwicke and Leo G. Carroll. One can find good entertainment based on real events.
D-Day: the invasion of Normandy, is a highlight of this film. There are several minutes of what appears to be genuine newsreel footage of the storming of the beaches: the ships off shore, the guns, the planes, brave men falling. It's all very real at this point.
"The Desert Fox" was made in an era when the directors, producers, and the Hollywood Establishment in general, were less preachy, and less likely to distort the truth in order to promote a social agenda. That is a big plus for this film.
On the down side: the film starts off with several undisclosed advertisements for other videos, of like kind, by Fox. This is borderline dishonest, as consumers have paid for entertainment and expect it to be commercial free. At the very least, the ads should be disclosed, before anyone makes a purchaseing decision.
All in all, "The Desert Fox" is good entertainment and deserves a look.
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on December 7, 2003
This movie is misleadingly named. Although Rommel was indeed the commander of Germany's Afrika Corp in World War II, and there earned a reputation as a master tactician, that is not what this movie is about. Two-thirds of this movie's 88 minute length focuses on Rommel's minor role in a conspiracy to kill Hitler. The conspiracy failed, and Rommel eventually paid with his life for his involvement. (In truth, Rommel was lucky. The other conspirators were hanged on piano wire and died a painful death. Because he had been built up into a national hero, Rommel was given the opportunity to take poison, and the public was told he died of war wounds.
I'm afraid most viewers, jaded by modern F/X and action laden efforts like Saving Private Ryan, will be disappointed with this rather inexpensively made effort from 1951. There is very little action other than a commando raid during the first five minutes of the movie. The little remaining action is actual stock footage of the war, skillfully cut into the film. The movie is very talky, focusing on Rommel's relationship with his wife and son, Field Marshal Von Rundstedt, and Adolph Hitler.
I have to admit that when I watched an early scene that showed Rommel in North Africa, wearing a long black leather overcoat consulting with his officers, I said to myself "pure Hollywood! there is no way he would have been wearing that in the hot desert." Then I went to my library and consulted a book on Rommel, lavishly illustrated with photographs. Not only was Rommel wearing the black leather overcoat, he was dressed precisely as depicted in the movie. There is also a remarkable resemblance between Rommel and James Mason, who does an outstanding job portraying Rommel in the movie. The moviemakers got it right, and I was wrong.
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on June 16, 2004
Henry Hathaway's 1951 film on Erwin Rommel, NAZI Germany's most brilliant tactician whose indirect involvement in a failed plot to assassinate Hitler resulted in his untimely death.
The film is a character study and focuses more on Rommel's relationship with Hitler and the German High Command as opposed to his achievements as a military tactician. Because the nature of his death wasn't very well known at that time, the film focuses on Rommel's deteriorating relationship with Hitler and his eventual participation in the assassination plot. This is normal since, with the film being made only 6 years after the end of WWII, audiences would have been quite unreceptive to a film glorifying a German general's military exploits against allied forces.
All in all, James Mason delivers a brilliant performance as a man who is struggling with his conscience. Is his duty as a general to just obey Hitler or to protect Germany from destruction? What should he do when Hitler's megalomania is a greater threat to Germany than the Allies themselves? How can he be a good soldier and live with himself by committing treason: even if treason is the only logical alternative? Although the film isn't entirely accurate in its history, it succeeds in capturing all of the internal conflicts Rommel must have suffered in deciding what to do. The film is also accurate in portraying the impossible dilemma faced by Von Runstedt and others in the German High Command with Hitler's incessant meddling in military planning and execution. As the movie shows, by 1944 Hitler assumed direct control of virtually all military operations in the major theaters with disastrous results (i.e. insisting that most heavy guns and panzer divisions remain in Calais even when the D-Day invasion was well underway). This dilemma was dealt with humor in the movie when Von Runsted sarcastically tells Rommel about how corporals (i.e. Hitler) are such brilliant strategists and tacticians who clearly know far more about waging war than your run-of-the-mill Field Marshalls: "You know how rigid those corporals can be."
Altogether a great film that sheds light on the character of one of the greatest military tacticians of the 20th Century. A film not to be missed.
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on July 15, 2003
This film biography of General Erwin Rommel is made memorable by the outstanding performance of James Mason in the title role. Mason is the perfect German general and this was his first major blockbuster in Hollywood after a string of disappointing movies after he left his native Britain. There are many historical inaccuracies in this film and it certainly isn't good history, but it's very enjoyable, particularly the latter sections of the movie.
The film drags quite a bit at the beginning and is curiously disjointed in sections. The battle sequences are rather poorly done and amateurish, but the dialogue between Rommel and his subordinates is immediate and crisp. The scenes with his wife and son are also interesting and well-scripted. The last thirty minutes of the movie are undoubtedly the best portions, where the German general staff informs Rommel he must die. Rommel's farewell to his family is poignantly written and memorable. The film is worth watching because of Mason's superb performance. Don't expect truthful history, but be engrossed by a great actor.
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on June 6, 2003
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (James Mason), better known as "The Desert Fox" was a very popular and respected German soldier in WWII! The film pays tribute to Rommel and is a superb tribute about Rommel's life as General, husband and father. Rommel was a huge believer in tactics and won many early victories as the film shows, not all in great detail, but enough to get the point across. As the film begins at the begining of WWII, Rommel took control of the Afrika Korps, and they would take total control of North Africa. But then the tide would turn, and the Germans were defeated. Somewhat defeated but not totally lost Rommel is put in charge by Hitler (Luther Adler) to take over the Atlantic Wall. He orders it to be built up to such military power that the Allies will be pushed back into the sea and be defeated. As this happens the film picks up. The D-Day Invasion is one of the high points of the film. But it does not fail after that. Something just as important to Rommel as the Atlantic Wall, is taking Hitler out of power and this seems to be a must, not an option. So along with others that believe the Fuhrer must be taken out of power, they plot to assassinate him. But it fails and Hitler goes after everyone that might be against him. In the end Rommel himself is targeted and must either take poison and save his family and reputation or die a slow death. So Rommel puts on his best uniform and bids farewell to his wife (Leo G. Carroll). "The Desert Fox" is a must see as it is about a man who was loved by his fellow soldiers and was respected by those who fought against him during the war.
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on February 21, 1999
This was not the great film I thought it would be. The reason is simple, the film skips entirely Rommel's great achivements and instead focuses on his downfall. I spite of being called "The Desert Fox", for the majority of this movie the "Fox" is not in the desert. I envisoned the film covering Rommel's victories in Africa but there is ony a slight mention of them at the end. The movie starts of with Rommel at El Alemien, and losing. The rest of the film is Rommel off and on in the hospital, in his home and arguing with Field Marshal Rundstedt. I could understand this if the film had been made in wartime, and was just propaganda, but it wasn't. The movie also gave the immpression that Rommel was fully involed with the plot to kill Hitler which is not true. He had been asked to join the conspiracy but never really gave a straight answer although he was totally against Hitler at the time. In spite of all the bad, this is still a pretty good movie and I gave it 3 stars. James Mason does a great job and the film paints a good picture of the downfall of Rommel, including the lengthly scene of Rommel charged with treason and his blackmail to suicide. All in all it's a good movie and anyone with an interest in the man Erwin Rommel should see it.
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on May 28, 2003
This is a superb movie dealing with the great German general, Erwin Rommel, dubbed "The Desert Fox." Surprisingly, the movie deals rather tersely with the famed North African campaign, and instead focuses largely on the period after this time, when Rommel becomes disaffected with Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich, and conspires against Hitler. While basically true, this causes the movie to be an incomplete and imperfect portrayal of Rommel.
Despite its flaws, this movie is well worth watching and owning. James Mason is very authentic as Rommel. The movie is narrated by Michael Rennie, and this narration significantly adds to the quality of the film. Overall, a fine war film about a great subject which is made even better by the fact that it is true to history, albeit incomplete.
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on November 1, 2003
In between stock footage and some odd chase scenes, this is a pretty good film about Erwin von Rommel.
Rommel has always been my hero, and James Mason gives a fine performance as "the Desert Fox." OK, so maybe he doesn't look like Rommel, but he plays him well and his looks aren't as off as some other atrocious role choices have been. John Wayne as Ghengis Khan comes to mind.
Rommel is pretty well realized, although I would have also liked to have seen his earlier life shown as well. I understand that probably wasn't the intention of the film makers, and as showing Rommel in his WWII life, this film succeeds.
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