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Desert Fox, The (1951)

Field Marshall Rommel, the Desert Fox, was the commander of the crack Afrika Korps, whose brilliant tactics earned him the respect of both friends and foe. When the tide was turning at El Alamein, Rommel disobeyed Hitler’s orders and pulled his men out of battle.

Returning to Germany, he was torn between loyalty to his country and his own better judgement. He joined the plot against Hitler and was forced to take drastic measures to save his wife and son from possible danger.

This is not only a war film but the tragedy of a man who waited too long before acting on his better instincts.

As interpreted by James Mason, Rommel is competent, self-assured, loyal and aggressive, and the movie treats him as a wonderful soldier who is, unfortunately, on the wrong side.

Rommel’s home life is expertly sketched, making his final action understandable.

Many of the scenes are filmed in a quasi-documentary style by Henry Hathaway, avoiding romantic heroics and sentimentality. Borrego Springs, California stands in brilliantly for the African desert.

Mason repeated his sensitive impersonation of Rommel again in The Desert Rats (1953).

Erwin Rommel
James Mason
Dr Karl Strolin
Cedric Hardwicke
Frau Rommel
Jessica Tandy
Luther Adler
General Burgdorf
Everett Sloane
Field Marshal Von Rundstedt
Leo G Carroll
General Fritz Bayerlein
George Macready
Richard Boone
Manfred Rommel
William Reynolds
Michael Rennie

Henry Hathaway