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The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951, James Mason, Luther Adler)

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Henry Hathaway’s humane and sympathetic portrait of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, played by James Mason, deals largely with the final years of Rommel’s life and, in particular, his plots against Hitler.

The brilliant tactics of Rommel, commander of the crack Afrika Korps, have earned him the respect of both friend and enemy, in spite of the problems caused by the lack of supplies promised by Hitler. When the tide starts to turn against the Germans at El Alamein, Rommel disobeys Hitler’s orders and pulls his troops out of the battle. He returns to Germany where he is hospitalised with jaundice and tells his friend Dr Strolin (Cedric Hardwicke) of his loss of confidence in the Fuehrer. On recovering, Rommel tours the Atlantic defences and, finding Hitler has assumed complete command of the defence of Europe in preparation for the expected Allied invasion, Rommel visits his wife (Jessica Tandy) and their son (William Reynolds).

Later Dr Strolin sounds him out again about his attitude towards Hitler. Rommel is torn between his oath of loyalty and his own better judgement. With the invasion now in progress, Rommel learns that three members of an anti-Hitler plot have been captured. He is now committed to the conspiracy to kill the Fuehrer but is wounded by British bombers while driving. The plot is carried through, but miraculously Hitler escapes. In the ensuing interrogation of suspects, Rommel’s name is mentioned. His position becomes critical. So, when a delegation from Hitler informs him the solution lies in his hands: for the sake of his family, Rommel must shoot himself.

production details
USA / 88 minutes / 1951

Director: Henry Hathaway
Writers: Nunnally Johnson, from the biography Rommel by Desmond Young,

cast
James Mason as Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
Luther Adler as Adolf Hitler
Everett Sloane as Gen. Wilhelm Burgdorf
Leo G. Carroll as Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt
George Macready as Gen. Fritz Bayerlein
Richard Boone as Capt. Hermann Aldinger
Eduard Franz as Col. Klaus von Stauffenberg
Desmond Young as Lt. Colonel Desmond Young
Dan O’Herlihy as Commando Captain
Michael Rennie as Narrator (voice)
Paul Cavanagh as Lt. Col. Caesar von Hofaker
George Nader as Commando
John Hoyt as Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel (uncredited)
Peter van Eyck as German Officer
Cedric Hardwicke as Dr. Karl Strolin
Jessica Tandy as Frau Lucie Marie Rommel

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