This has to be one of Richard Burton's very best films. A black and white epic, made in 1953 when memories of the real events were still vivid; Burton portrays the tough 23year old Captain McRoberts, a classic product of the old British public school system; ordered to take command of an Australian battalion defending the besieged port city of Tobruk.
Far more than just another war film however, the Desert Rats is also a psychological drama, with Robert Newton giving a masterful preformance as McRobert's ex-school teacher; an intelligent sensitive man, but also a drunken, cowardly failure, swept along by circumstances beyond his control or understanding; though still deeply respected by his estwhile pupil.
The scenes of the British Garrison Commanders as surrounded, outnumbered, and short on supplies; they shrewdly out think and then out-general Field Marshall Rommel are absolutely classic. In reality British cypher experts had broken the German Enigma codes by then; enabling British Military Intelligence to read Rommel's orders even before they reached his unit commanders, but that's another story.
To conclude this review, I cannot recommend this film highly enough; it's an absolute classic! An entertaining, semi-documentary view into the now vanished world our fathers fought so hard for; in the battles of yester-year.