EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|DESERT FOX, THE (director: Henry Hathaway; screenwriters: Nunnally Johnson/from the biography by Desmond Young; cinematographer: Norbert Brodine; editor: James B. Clark; music: Daniele Amfitheatrof; cast: 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), William Reynolds (Manfred Rommel), Michael Rennie (Narrator); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Nunnally Johnson; Twentieth Century-Fox; 1951)|
sympathetic of the legendary Nazi general to the point it makes him an
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Henry Hathaway ("Raid on Rommel"/"Call Northside 777"/"The House on 92nd Street")
directs this controversial biopic on
general Erwin Rommel (James Mason). It's based on the biography of Desmond Young, with the screenplay by Nunnally
Johnson. It's sympathetic of the
legendary Nazi general to the point it makes him an heroic figure, who
has a loving family (wife-Jesica Tandy, son-William Reynolds), and
rather than voicing the Nazi line takes a cerebral attitude as a
professional soldier toward war strategy. Hathaway shoots it
in an episodic manner, concentrating on Rommel's early 1940's North
Africa campaign (where he reigned supreme in the desert until British
launched an attack that smashed the German army at El Alamein in 1942
and instead of following Hitler's (Luther Adler) command to fight to
the bitter end, he retreats to return to Berlin and recover from an
illness). It leads to the dignified general's eventual realization that
Hitler was an incompetent madman who had
to be stopped before he completely ruined Germany. This draws Rommel
into the July plans of Col.
Von Stauffenberg (Eduard Franz) and his abortive
Operation Valkyrie plot.
Near the war's end, the bomb planted to eliminate the Fuhrer at a
meeting with his staff fizzles. Rommel chooses to commit suicide by
poison under the Nazi watch rather than face a public trial and place
his family in danger.
It includes impressive real-life war footage.
My problem with this
controversial take on Rommel is that it whitewashes all the Nazi
leaders, including Rommel, who at such a late-date during the war, when
they knew it was lost, finally got up enough courage to act. In fact
many of these plotters until that point of the war were considered to
be war criminals. As far as the film goes, the performances were
excellent and the production values top-notch. But it still did nothing
to warm my heart for Rommel. If that was indeed its intention, then it
didn't completely work for me as I find it absurd to even think of
Rommel for even a second as a hero.
REVIEWED ON 5/24/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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