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The Desert Fox

The story of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, as biographed by Brigadier Desmond Young, comes to the screen as an episodic documentary difficult to follow or understand. A controversial angle is posed by the sympathetic pitch made for Rommel by Young, and the whitewashing given a number of Nazi military leaders previously charged with being war criminals by the British.

With:
James Mason Cedric Hardwicke Jessica Tandy Luther Adler Everett Sloane Leo G. Carroll

The story of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, as biographed by Brigadier Desmond Young, comes to the screen as an episodic documentary difficult to follow or understand. A controversial angle is posed by the sympathetic pitch made for Rommel by Young, and the whitewashing given a number of Nazi military leaders previously charged with being war criminals by the British.

Battle action in the film is very good, both that concocted in the studio and that snatched from actual war footage. Picture gets off to an unusually sock opening, depicting the November 1941 raid on Rommel’s North African headquarters by British Commandos. This all takes place before the title and credits are flashed but the promise is not borne out for a solid war film after narration and episodic character study take over.

Performances are good, with James Mason’s portrait of the Desert Fox extremely able within the shadowy confines of the script. His scenes with Jessica Tandy, playing Frau Rommel, have sound emotional value through the underplaying of both performers. Luther Adler’s screaming, hysterical Hitler also is good, although confined to brief footage.

The Desert Fox

Production: 20th Century-Fox. Director Henry Hathaway; Producer Nunnally Johnson; Screenplay Nunnally Johnson; Camera Norbert Brodine; Editor James B. Clark; Music Daniele Amfitheatrof; Art Director Lyle Wheeler, Maurice Ransford

Crew: (B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1951. Running time: 88 MIN.

With: James Mason Cedric Hardwicke Jessica Tandy Luther Adler Everett Sloane Leo G. Carroll

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