James Mason - The Desert Fox (1951) DVDRip (SiRiUs sHaRe).avi
The Desert Fox (1951).rtf
The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951)
This biopic follows Rommel's career after the Afrika Korps, including his work on the defenses of Fortress Europe as well as his part in the assassination attempt on Hitler, and his subsequent suicide.
James Mason ... Field Marshal Erwin Johannes Rommel
Cedric Hardwicke ... Dr. Karl Strolin
Jessica Tandy ... Frau Lucie Marie Rommel
Luther Adler ... Adolf Hitler
Everett Sloane ... Gen. Wilhelm Burgdorf
Leo G. Carroll ... Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt
George Macready ... Gen. Fritz Bayerlein
Richard Boone ... Capt. Hermann Aldinger
Eduard Franz ... Col. Klaus von Stauffenberg
Desmond Young ... Himself, Lt. Colonel Desmond Young
Director: Henry Hathaway
Codecs: DivX 3 / MP3
Wonderful performances, first-rate script and direction (moving musical score in key places, as well), plus a well-structured theme about moral dilemmas of patriotic soldiers who realize they're obeying evil orders, make this a little-known gem.
Did Rommel really participate in the plot to kill Hitler? Hitler sure thought so. He had his favorite general poisoned; about that there is no question.
Did Rommel know Hitler before the war? Not sure when they became acquainted but Rommel ran AH's bodyguard unit for a while, then became one of Hitler's favorite generals when he helped sweep the British to Dunkirk in 1940.
Was Rommel aware of and morally responsible for the Holocaust? A recent award winning Rommel biography cites one scene I wish they could have included in this film: Rommel around 1941 advised Hitler that he was concerned by Allied carping on German anti-semitism. "Why don't we put some Jews into prominent leadership positions and shut them up?" Rommel suggested. Hitler told Rommel to stick to military matters and, after the general exited the room, told associates: "That fellow has absolutely no understanding of what we are trying to accomplish."
The movie does generally succeed in portraying the theme of a soldier so single-mindedly focused on the professional technique of his job that he only slowly awakens to the moral horror and self-destructiveness of the leader he serves.
The Churchill quote used at the film's ending is meant to address (and answer) the questions about whether it is morally proper to make a film that glorifies a Nazi general. If Churchill could say such magnanimous things about him...and it's an accurate quote...then so could Hollywood.
(Interesting historical note: British film audiences in the early 1950s were not in such a generous mood. The studio quickly churned out the much-inferior "Desert Rats" film, featuring Mason as a more-villainous Rommel, to mollify outraged critics.)
Where did the quote come from that is spoken in this film by von Reunstadt: "Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan"? Yes, JFK used it, famously, after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Many newsmen of the time mistakenly credited the president with originating it, but JFK didn't claim credit for it. The line has since been traced back to some Italian count in the 1500s. His name was Ciano or something like that. But JFK was a big movie fan and, my guess is, probably learned this aphorism from "The Desert Fox" a decade before using it in his famous post-Bay of Pigs press conference!
While a highly rewatchable war movie, with a corker of a performance from James Mason, this motion picture does have its inaccuracies--beginning with its memorable opening. In truth, British commandos did not sneak or charge in, outfitted in nightfighting fatigues; they simply walked in, disguised in Axis uniforms with fake ids. Though the covert mission proved a fiasco, Rommel, in true chivalrous tradition, had these would-be assassins buried with full military honors. However, cinematically-speaking, it's a gripping moment, and it's considered the first true pre-credit movie sequence, a trick one would see quite often in later movies, such as the Bond films and others.
The movie focuses largely on the Field Marshall's involvement with the attempted assassination of Hitler, but just how much (or how little) Rommel was involved is still arguable. Curiously, James Mason once mentioned how he was up for the part of Rommel and was competing with another Fox contract-player, Gary Merrill (best known as Bette Davis's love interest in ALL ABOUT EVE). Mason was impressed by how well Merrill marched and strutted, doing bits of military-like physical action that didn't come easily to the urbane Mason. Even though Mason ultimately won the part over Merrill, he self-critically felt he didn't fully do the role justice (though many, including myself, wouldn't agree with him). Perhaps the studio opted for Mason to bring out a sympathetic quality, because viewers do tend to forget the numbers of Allies who died directly because of the main character! Rommel was a great general for his energetic and ingenious tactics, not for (possibly) wanting Hitler killed.
Don't get me wrong; this movie is still a joy.
# Luther Adler, who gives a very convincing portrayal of Hitler in the film, was Jewish.
# Several film reference books credit Dan O'Herlihy with playing the officer who leads the raid in the opening pre-credits sequence, but he does not appear in the film. The mistake is understandable since the actor playing the officer does bear a resemblance to O'Herlihy.
# This film was supposed to feature George Zucco, but the actor had a stroke on the set and was committed to a sanitarium in San Gabriel, California until his death in 1960.