Battle of Tobruk is fought in The Desert Rats as a followup, but not a sequel, to The Desert Fox, the 1951 Field Marshal Rommel feature. Picture is a rather impersonal account of warfare that lacks the controversial flavor of the Rommel treatment. War scenes are realistically staged under Robert Wise’s direction, and a high spot in this action is a commando raid on a Nazi ammunition dump.
James Mason is back to repeat his Rommel characterization, but appears only in a few scenes to tie the Tobruk battle in with the Nazi plan of conquest that fell in the desert because of the stubbornness of men on the other side who fought back against terrific odds. Mason’s work is good, and Richard Burton is excellent as the British captain in charge of the Australian troops that resist attacks on Tobruk. Robert Newton figures as the third star, playing a drunken old schoolteacher of Burton’s, whose cowardice poses a problem for the young officer.
1953: Nomination: Best Story & Screenplay