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also known as The Fighting Rats of Tobruk

The Rats of Tobruk1944

  • 3.0
One of very few Australian features made during World War II, this 1944 film memorializes a great triumph of the nation's troops three years earlier. That was a standoff (alongside British and Indian soldiers) against overwhelming odds defending a Libyan port from Axis forces. These “men who stopped Rommel” proudly if also sarcastically adopted the nickname “Rats of Tobruk” for themselves after discovering the Nazis had called them that in radio broadcasts. Like another Aussie war film decades later, GALLIPOLLI, this one couches great historic events in a buddy saga between best mates serving in the same unit. There's rugged cattle drover Bluey (Grant Taylor), a genial dingo trapper (Chips Rafferty) and a posh-accented English writer (Peter Finch). This pleasing mix of action, comedy and drama wasn't distributed in the United States until the 1950s (as THE FIGHTING RATS OF TOBRUK which the opening title card has it here). By then the three lead actors had gone in very different directions: Finch was becoming an international star, eventually winning an Oscar for being “mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore” in NETWORK. Rafferty became the era's biggest homegrown star in Australia in a series of outdoor adventures. Unlike Rafferty, top-billed Taylor didn't do well amidst the slim pickings of Australia's postwar film industry. His career flourished again only when he returned as a middle-aged character actor to the England he'd emigrated from as a child. While legend has it that THE WIZARD OF OZ wasn't a hit on original release, five years later this “Oz” flick has troops on the march singing, “We're off to see the Wizard...” as a sort of wiseass national anthem. - Dennis Harvey

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Member Reviews (1)

Good movie with suspense and a good story line. The setting is gritty and the action quite good.

1 member likes this review