Tobruk (1967)

War, Drama
Rock Hudson, George Peppard, Nigel Green, Guy Stockwell
A Canadian POW major is rescued by a special British military unit made up of Germans to help lead an attack on a major Nazi fuel depot in Tobruk, Libya.
  • MCA Universal Home Video Company:
  • Approved Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 07 Feb 1967 Released:
  • N/A DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Leo Gordon Writer:
  • Arthur Hiller Director:
  • N/A Website:
Not the Real Story of Tobruk6/10
The Longest Day started a trend in Hollywood to have big all star cast productions showing with documentary accuracy good accounts of some of the major events of World War II. Other such films like this would be Patton, MacArthur, Midway, and A Bridge Too Far. Note I do not include The Battle of the Bulge in this list.

The seesaw struggle for Tobruk would make a great film as the key port city on the North African coast passes from Axis to Allied hands a few times over the 1940-1942 period. But if you're looking for a factional account of that story, this ain't it.

What it's about is an allied raid on the fuel bunkers at Tobruk that keep Rommel's panzers going. The idea is that a group of Jewish soldiers who like Paul Newman in Exodus fought in the British army and these are German Jews, led by George Peppard, with appropriate accents and language will disguise themselves as Nazi soldiers. They will escort British 'prisoners' into Tobruk led by Colonel Nigel Green who will blow up the fuel dumps along with a combined naval and air assault. Along for the ride is Rock Hudson, a Canadian major who dreamed up the idea.

Well at least they didn't make Rock an American since there no American soldiers in that part of Africa at all. But Canada has always been handy if you want to cast a name American movie star in a British locale. Fortunately it fits the plot situation here.

There's action enough for those who like that as I do. But the most interesting part about Tobruk is the relationships between the German Jews and the British. Hudson is the outsider here so he does see both points of view. There is some garden variety anti-Semitism among the British, but it's also tempered with the fact that as Nigel Green puts it, he and others served in Palestine before war in Europe broke out.

Nevertheless as Peppard puts it for the first time Jews are acting like a people since the days of Rome. They are going home to where they started post World War II, to Israel before that was a name of a nation. Anyone who wants to start trouble can find them there. Sad to say a whole lot of people have wanted to start trouble for their own reasons.

So much battle footage was filmed for Tobruk that four years later it got used in another vastly inferior film, Raid on Rommel.

Not a great film Tobruk, but entertaining enough. But hopefully the real whole story of Tobruk will be told.
A classic of its subgenre5/10
That subgenre being the war movie about a small group of specialist soldiers - "commandos" - who pull off a daring raid, with lots of drama and personality conflicts - these days they're called "special operators." And it's the sort of war picture they sure don't make any more. Pity, in a way. In this screenplay it's the Long Range Desert Group, based on a legendary North Africa force, plus a bunch of German Jews out to confound the Nazis and use their contribution as leverage to achieve nationhood in Palestine -no, Israel!, as George Peppard brusquely corrects Rock Hudson. Which is what gives this movie a very interesting historical dimensions, bringing in as it does, along with Rommel and the Desert War, or course, the meddling of the Grand Mufti, Arab affinities for Nazism, and the struggle for Israel as the Holocaust goes on in Europe. Note the movie was made in '67 - Six-Day War anyone? The premise of the commandos masquerading as Afrika Korps I found a bit much, though. Also much mirth garnered by the use of all-American trucks and tanks (a lot of them post- WWII) for German, Italian, British - I noticed the California National Guard got a big credit at the end. The Grumman Goose was a cute touch, too. At least they got most of the guns right - but the P-40 was good, the right type for the time and place. Also a nice touch to have Rock Hudson play as a Canadian, not an American. And get a load of Dean Stockwell. And there was some pretty good camera work and some clever crane and dolly shots, too. For all its flaws and preposterous elements, and for being a bit of a period piece, it is a most entertaining picture, and lots of stuff blows up.
Nice and entertaining film about British commandos against Rommel's Africa-Korps6/10
This thrilling wartime picture contains high-powered action-packed, shootouts , grand-scale blow-up , intrigue and lots of fun . The film belongs the sub-genre of warfare commandos , being highlighted by a stirring and thrilling climax with overwhelming action scenes . This WWII actioner talks upon a motley group formed by British soldiers (Nigel Green ,Percy Herbert , Jack Watson, Leo Gordon -who also wrote the script-) led by a Major (Rock Hudson replaced Laurence Harvey , though role was formerly offered to Dirk Bogarde who turned down) and rebel Jews (George Peppard) craving the dreamed country against the Nazi and Italian armies in the North African desert -Libya- during WWII with the aim to knock out the guns of Tobruk . They ought to sneak to clear the path for bombing strike at oil supply depots before Erwin Rommel (The Fox of the desert) arrives in Egypt (he'll be stopped in the Alamein by Montgomery who defeated the German army in the 1942-43 years). They must pass through Alix line disguised as German soldiers escorting allied privates . There actually was a raid on Tobruk, 13-14 September 1942, including the German-Jewish SIG and fake British POWs. Unlike the outcome in the movie, "Operation Agreement" was a complete failure.

Decent wartime movie full of battles , explosions , thrills and extraordinary feats . From the beginning until ending the exciting warlike action is continued and the film runtime is adjusted . In the movie there is tension , suspense , emotion and for that reason results to be amusing ; besides , fast movement , and various happenings as well as spectacular scenes makes it entertaining and no boring . The picture has a certain remembrance with ¨Dirty dozen¨ , ¨Kelly's heroes¨ and ¨When the eagles dare¨ and the group of films were made about warlike adventures during the 60s and early 1970s . Portions of the film were edited into the 1971 Richard Burton film ¨Raid on Rommel¨ (1971) by Henry Hathaway and nearly all the action scenes was footage taken from Tobruk . The final confrontation between the protagonists and the enemies on the Nazi desert fortress is stimulating , it's the highlight of the movie . Russell Harlan's cinematography is good , like is well reflected on the splendid desert's photography . Rousing and breathtaking musical score by the great Bronislau Kaper . Well produced by Gene Corman , brother of legendary producer/director Roger Corman , as Gene financed several successful War films such as ¨The secret invasion¨, ¨Von Richthofen and Brown¨ ,¨You can win'em all¨ and the best of all them : ¨The Big Red One¨ . The motion picture was professionally directed by Arthur Hiller . Rating : Acceptable and passable warfare flick . The yarn will appeal to WW2 enthusiasts and Rock Hudson fans.
Good, But Could Have Gone Deeper6/10
Loosely based on fact, "Tobruk" tells the story of an Allied mission to destroy Rommel's fuel supply at the port city of Tobruk. The film is quite entertaining, and there are some good ideas in the script, and some nicely shot action scenes, but the film never really rises above average.

In 1942, the fate of the Mediterranean hangs in the balance. The Allies have devised a scheme to stop Rommel's advance to the Suez Canal. A group of German Jews led by Captain Bergman (George Peppard), now working with the British, will escort a company of English commandos led by the staunch Colonel Harker (Nigel Green) across 800 miles of harsh desert right into the port of Tobruk, where they will knock out the harbor guns which prevent British troops from landing in the harbor. Then the British will land a strike force to destroy Rommel's colossal underground fuel dump. The movie follows the trek across the desert, where the characters bicker over opposing ideals and motives, discover a traitor in their midst, get stuck in a minefield, etc. etc., and as expected, resolve their differences during a climactic encounter with the enemy.

"Tobruk" is ultimately a movie about conflicting ideals. There are plenty of noisy action sequences and suspenseful moments, but at the heart of the story is a weakly established conflict over different moral standards held by the main characters. Director Arthur Hiller had a significant background in directing TV shows, and it shows. "Tobruk" has a small-scale feel to it from start to finish. The sets – even the vast outdoor desert plains – are never filled with thousands of extras. This is a movie about what goes on between a few main characters. What's unfortunate is that in "Tobruk" they're never fully developed and, therefore, it's hard to care when they are settled. Major Craig is a selfish pacifist, but all he really does is bicker about how much he hates being on the mission. Nigel Green's Colonel Harker is a typical English officer, playing a part written as most Hollywood roles for the English characters were. He demands order, obedience and when men don't stand up to his authority he just shouts a lot and gets his way. Of the leads, George Peppard makes the most of his role as Captain Bergman. Bergman, a victim of Nazi terror, is out for revenge and out to help re-unite the Jewish people. What's hard to swallow is that Bergman already seems to know the Jews will re-unite in Israel, when it wasn't re-formed into a nation by the U.N. until sometime after the end of World War II. Despite this, Peppard is passionate but never overacts. This is the type of role he was perfectly suited for, and it was fun to watch his performance.

All that said, "Tobruk" is still a pretty good movie. The question of heroism and duty is answered quite well near the film's conclusion, as each of the leads is forced into a situation they would rather not be in, where they must put their lives at stake in order to accomplish something important bigger than they are. Harker states, "We have few saving graces… perhaps our willingness to die for what believe is all that matters." Craig comes to respect Bergman's religious ideals and backs him up during the final battle sequence. And with that said… the final battle sequence is, quite simply, incredibly well-filmed. The Allied assault on the harbor guns is fantastic. There are dozens of soldiers running about on the beach as a huge artillery installation is blown to bits, and not the least part of it looks staged or faked. Later, this scene is put to shame as some of the heroes take out the entire fuel supply for Rommel with a tank. The fuel dump explodes in grand fashion, with dozens of huge explosions and orange fireballs, some of which must have been real. The visual effects are state-of-the art, especially when one considers that this film was shot in 1966. (It was nominated for Best Special Effects at the 1968 Oscars, but lost to Doctor Dolittle).

"Tobruk" is entertaining and a sufficient afternoon adventure story. From start to finish, and it looks and sounds very authentic. Nothing about this movie seems staged, and despite an average-quality script, it's engaging and thought-provoking. I would suggest renting it at some point.
Well-crafted men on a mission movie7/10
Tobruk is a superior men-on-a-mission movie with lavish production values and a good set-up even if it has little resemblance to history (there was a Second World War and the Nazis were the bad guys, but that's probably about the only thing you won't need to take with a pinch of salt), with Canuck Rock Hudson sprung from a Vichy French prison ship in Algiers by George Peppard's German Jews fighting for the Allies. Seems he's the only one who can guide them on a raid on the German fuel dumps at Tobruk along with a raiding party disguised as Afrika Corps troops transporting British prisoners of war led by Nigel Green's casually anti-Semitic British colonel. Neither the British nor the Jews particularly trust each other because of that nasty business in Palestine, with Hudson pretty much taking the William Holden role from Bridge on the River Kwai here as a reluctant buffer between them while at a remove from their obsessions. Naturally, there's a traitor in their midst and enemy patrols, minefields and their own airplanes to be avoided, with a Nazi-sympathising Irish spy and his daughter thrown in to complicate matters further and add a bit of half-hearted female interest amid all the testosterone. Obligatory war movie regulars Norman Rossington, Percy Herbert and Jack Watson are present and correct in the ranks (Sam Kydd and Gordon Jackson were presumably busy that month on another war movie) and there's a memorable score by Bronislau Kaper. It's impressively directed by Arthur Hiller with a well-crafted script by Leo V. Gordon that keeps things moving and throws in the odd good spin on some of the cliches en route to a finale that should please all lovers of very big explosions, while Russell Harlan's Techniscope cinematography looks good in the widescreen German DVD.