The Desert Rats

Synopsis: Rommel has the British in retreat on his way to the Suez Canal. All that stands in his way is Tobruk, held by a vastly out numbered force of Australian troops. Richard Burton leads these troops on daring raids against Rommel, keeping him off balance as they earn the nickname 'The Desert Rats'.
Director(s): Robert Wise
Production: Fox
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win.
Rotten Tomatoes:
88 min

- (in German) Good.

- What does he say?

- The English are running away, sir.

- Ha! Throw in the German tanks.

Attack! Quickly!

Use the ninth tank division. lmmediately.

- (in German) Well?

- A complete rout. We're pushing them here...

- l know. What else?

- Only Tobruk is still holding out.

- There's a considerable unit there.

- We'll have Tobruk in a few days. What else?

We should regroup now -

to Alexandria, over Alamein or to Cairo.

Alexandria, Cairo - nonsense. Suez.

We're pushing through to Suez. Suez.

(narrator) Suez - the key to the Middle East.

With the British in full retreat,

nothing stood in Rommel's way

but the tiny garrison of Empire troops

cut off in the fortress town of Tobruk.

(narrator) This is the story of Tobruk

and the men who made up its garrison,

of the fight they made against

the pick of Hitler's troops,

and of the nickname they won with blood

and bore with pride - the Desert Rats.


- Message from the corps signal officer.

- Thanks.

- Barney, the general's waiting for you.

- What's up?

Orders came in from Cairo an hour ago.

The general's laying it out now.

l want these minefields

re-laid by your sappers.

Exactly the same as the ltalians, sir?

They had nine months

to find the best locations.

- We have nine hours before Rommel attacks.

- (explosion)

- Or less, if that artillery is any indication.

- Yes, sir.

- Message for you, sir.

- Thank you.

lt's good to see you, Barney.

l need your help.

Cairo's ordered us to take up

defensive positions for two months.

Two months? Can we?

lf we stop Rommel tomorrow,

l'll tell you better.

And now if l may have

your attention, gentlemen.

ln order that there may be

no misunderstandings,

these are our present defence positions.

Our first line of defence,

using much of the old ltalian perimeter.

Our second line.

Colonel White's supporting artillery...

and our inner fortifications.

Now, Rommel is preparing to attack.

The most logical place to strike is here.

He sends his tanks in,

pushes up this corridor

and, with his infantry, fans out

and creates havoc with our inner defences.

Therefore, our plan of defence

is based chiefly on the belief

that Rommel will attack here.

You will have the honour of being the first

to expose the blitzkrieg for what it is:

a highly limited tactical manoeuvre.

l propose to let Rommel's tanks

come through here unopposed.

You infantry commanders will stop

all German infantry here at the perimeter,

leaving the tanks

to proceed up this avenue alone.

Colonel White will have moved artillery

to line both sides of this avenue.

Across here, we are already digging positions

for the captured ltalian fieldpieces.

So... the longer we hold our fire,

the deeper Rommel's tanks

will advance into this box,

and the easier they will be to destroy.

- Am l right, Barney?

- l most certainly hope so, sir.

That'll be all, thank you, gentlemen.

- Tea?

- No, thank you, sir.


So they want us to hold on for two months.

lf those tanks get in our inner defences,

we shan't be able to evacuate.

lt'll be a wholesale slaughter, sir.

- lnteresting, isn't it?

- Yes, fascinating.


- How many men are in the officers' pool?

- Too many.

Four more came in today from that battalion

that was wiped out on the Derna road.

l need an infantry captain

with battle experience.

l have one.

Been out here a year. Twice decorated.

Name of MacRoberts.

The reserve company l asked for

a week ago has just come in.

They're at the docks now.

Green or not, l must put them into the line.

- What?

- l've got to do it.

Detail MacRoberts to them as an adviser.

That's the best l can do.

Very good, sir.

l'll get him down there right away.


- Captain, Captain.

- What's up? What is it?

- Captain MacRoberts, sir?

- What is it?

- Orders from headquarters. Colonel White.

- What are they?

Temporary duty with an Australian

company. They're at the dock now.

Australian company?

What do they want me to...

Never mind. Find my sergeant.

Donaldson - he's in there.

And leave me your torch.


Get out my way!

- These your men, Lieutenant?

- Why, yes, sir.

Then get 'em under control.

All right, you men, break it up!

Form up here! Fall in!

- Come on!

- l'm sorry, sir.

- One of the men fell in the water...

- l don't care.

This is an assembly area. You'll have

the military police down here.

Company! Attention!

Ready for inspection, sir.

- This the best you can do, Sergeant?

- What do you think this is? Bush week?

- Straighten that line!

- Who is this bright-eyed...

Shut up, Mick. You're just asking for it.

- Better. Where's your commanding officer?

- Down the dock, sir.

Let's find him.

(glass shatters)

- But the...

- Shut up!

Get your head down.

- The man was seasick, sir. He...

- That's right, sir. A very weak stomach.

He's tight as a tick. Look at him.

Mr Bartlett, sir.


Little Tammy MacRoberts.

What are you doing here?

l was about to ask you the same thing, sir.

- You all right?

- Perfectly. Not a care in the world.

- We'll take care of him, sir.

- No, he can't march in that condition.

Put him in my car.

You'll find it up there on the street.

- l'll give you a lift, sir.

- lt's a pleasure, l assure you, Tammy.

- Thank you.

- Pete, Rusty.

Right. Easy, boy. Easy.

- All right, let's find your captain...

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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