The Desert Rats was a quickly assembled follow-up to 20th Century-Fox's successful war film The Desert Fox. Richard Burton plays an officer in the British Eighth Army, battling Rommel's forces in defense of Tobruk. Put in charge of an Australian unit, Burton rides his men ruthlessly, with laudatory results. He is briefly captured by the Nazis and questioned by General Rommel himself, but Burton escapes to lead his surviving troops to safety. James Mason, who portrayed Rommel in The Desert Fox, makes a guest appearance in the same role in The Desert Rats.