The Desert Fox

Released in 1951, “The Desert Fox” stars James Mason in the title role of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. While he fought on the side of Nazi Germany against the British and Americans, Hollywood chose to tell his story only six years after the war ended. Rommel served in the German Army during WW I, winning Germany’s highest award for bravery. He remained in the Army between the wars, but it was in WW ll, as commander of Germany’s vaunted Afrika Korps, that the Rommel legend blossomed. The movie focuses on this period of his life. An aggressive and fierce commander, he was a master strategist in the tank warfare of the North African battlefield. It was here where he earned the respect of his allied counterparts, who nicknamed him The Desert Fox. He was also promoted to Field Marshal and again decorated with the highest honors Nazi Germany could bestow.

Known for his strict adherence to the rules of warfare, his eventual disgust with Hitler and the Nazi regime led him to play a role in the unsuccessful 1944 assassination attempt on the Fuhrer. For this he paid with his life. So great a national hero was Rommel that Hitler allowed him to commit suicide rather than be tried, convicted of treason, and summarily executed. The Nazi propaganda machine released a statement that he had succumbed to wounds received in battle and he was given an official state funeral. It was only after the War that his efforts against Hitler became known. Of Rommel, Winston Churchill said, “He also deserves our respect because, although a loyal German soldier, he came to hate Hitler and all his works, and took part in the conspiracy to rescue Germany by displacing the maniac and tyrant.” Shot in black and white and interspersed with actual combat footage, this film takes an interesting look at the life of one of history’s great military commanders.

To view the trailer, click here.

To view the film for free, click here.

To buy the book upon which the movie is based, click here.

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Steve Corbo

A founding member and corporate secretary of the Italian American Veterans Museum, Steve Corbo is the museum’s curator and a military consultant for Fra Noi. He has served for 25 years as president of S.A. Corbo & Associates Inc., providing professional liability insurance to health care providers. The son and nephew of World War II veterans and a passionate military historian for over 50 years, he has written and published articles on a variety of topics, including military history, and serves as the military consultant for Fra Noi, the Chicago-area Italian-American magazine.

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