Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Desert War Puts Punch in "Tobruk"

Cleveland Press March 3, 1967

Commando raids, impossible missions, a handful of men against hopeless odds -- this is the stuff of which good action movies have been made. One such is "Tobruk," now playing on local screens.

The incident, claimed to be historical but with obvious embellishments, concerns a mission by a force of 90 to cross the Libyan desert in eight days, get into Tobruk and destroy gun emplacements and fuel supplies.

The force was made up of British Commandos and members of the Special Identification Group The latter consisted of German-born Jews who fought for the Allies.

TO GET PAST WANDERING ENEMY UNITS, the British posed as prisoners of war and the SIG members, wearing German uniforms, pretended to be their captors. The disguises continued into the North African fortress city.

Aside from the purely physical conflicts of war the movie offers personality clashes between the Jewish and British commanders with allusions made to Palestine. While it doesn't probe deeply into the political conflict it offers enough to suggest it. It provides a change-of-pace reason for the personality clash that has become a war movie cliche.

Acting honors -- partly because of their roles, partly for their abilities -- go to Nigel Green as the top British officer and George Peppard as the SIG leader.

ROCK HUDSON APPEARS as a Canadian-born British officer Guy Stockwell as a second in command SIG officer.

Although the bulk of the action comes logically at the movies' end there are sufficient moments of excitement and suspense elsewhere in its tightly edited length to sustain interest.

The movie opens with a raid on a prison ship, continues through tank battles in the desert, a strafing attack from a fighter plane and climaxes in the daring attack against heavily fortified guns and the strongly guarded fuel depot.

The results are noise, flames and fireworks that will give action film fans their money's worth.