The Desert Fox

  • 1951
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Biography, War

The first film that attempted to humanize a WWII German military leader, THE DESERT FOX features a magnetic performance by James Mason as Hitler's greatest field commander, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel--grudgingly respected by his opponents, loyally followed by men of the Afrika Korps. Opening with a British commando raid on Rommel's headquarters, the film...read more

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The first film that attempted to humanize a WWII German military leader, THE DESERT FOX features a magnetic performance by James Mason as Hitler's greatest field commander, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel--grudgingly respected by his opponents, loyally followed by men of the Afrika Korps.

Opening with a British commando raid on Rommel's headquarters, the film traces the general's remarkable career from his early success in North Africa to his defeat at El Alamein (where he disregarded Hitler's "victory or death" command and retreated), his later illness, his command of the French

coastal defenses, and his role in a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler. This last act led to his high-command-mandated, face-saving suicide.

Though Mason is the main attraction in this fragmentary biopic, the supporting cast is excellent (particularly Luther Adler's unforgettable cameo as Hitler). Henry Hathaway's semi-documentary-style direction is as brisk as a panzer attack and Nunnally Johnson's script is literate and penetrating.

Mason's sympathetic portrait of Rommel is in marked contrast with other cinematic treatments of the general: Erich Von Stroheim in FIVE GRAVES TO CAIRO, Albert Lieven in FOXHOLE IN CAIRO, Werner Hinz in THE LONGEST DAY, Gregory Gay in HITLER, Christopher Plummer in THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS,

Wolfgang Preiss in RAID ON ROMMEL, Karl Michael Vogler in PATTON and Mason, once more, in THE DESERT RATS.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The first film that attempted to humanize a WWII German military leader, THE DESERT FOX features a magnetic performance by James Mason as Hitler's greatest field commander, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel--grudgingly respected by his opponents, loyally followed… (more)

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