Tobruk (1967)

109 mins | Drama | February 1967

Director:

Arthur Hiller

Writer:

Leo V. Gordon

Producer:

Gene Corman

Cinematographer:

Russell Harlan

Editor:

Robert C. Jones

Production Designers:

Alexander Golitzen, Henry Bumstead

Production Companies:

Gibraltar Productions , Corman Co., Inc.
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HISTORY

On 1 May 1965, LAT announced that Gibraltar Productions had signed Rock Hudson to star in the Gene Corman production of Tobruk for Universal Pictures. Two days later, DV suggested that Alec Guinness was in talks for a supporting role, but he does not appear in the final film. Over the next few months of development, contemporary news items reported several title changes, including: The Cliffs, The Cliffs of Mersa, The Cliffs at Mersa, Hot Eye of Hell, and Destination Tobruk.
       The 28 Jun 1965 DV estimated a negative cost of $6 million, owing to a lengthy sixteen-week shoot in Spain, where Corman claimed they would have access to necessary period battle costumes. Around this time, the 8 Jul 1965 edition noted that Universal considered hiring director Ken Annakin, who was already in Spain completing The Battle of the Bulge (1965, see entry). A report in the 28 Feb 1966 DV revealed that a previous plan to film in Israel had fallen through due to the political climate of the region and the required cooperation of the Israeli Army. By the end of the summer, the 30 Aug 1965 LAT announced Universal’s intentions to move production stateside. Although no U.S. forces were involved in the Siege of Tobruk during World War II, the film unit received assistance from the California National Guard, whose gear was disguised as British and German.
       Principal photography began 20 Jan 1966 in Yuma, AZ, according to a DV news item published that day. All twenty-nine desert battles ... More Less

On 1 May 1965, LAT announced that Gibraltar Productions had signed Rock Hudson to star in the Gene Corman production of Tobruk for Universal Pictures. Two days later, DV suggested that Alec Guinness was in talks for a supporting role, but he does not appear in the final film. Over the next few months of development, contemporary news items reported several title changes, including: The Cliffs, The Cliffs of Mersa, The Cliffs at Mersa, Hot Eye of Hell, and Destination Tobruk.
       The 28 Jun 1965 DV estimated a negative cost of $6 million, owing to a lengthy sixteen-week shoot in Spain, where Corman claimed they would have access to necessary period battle costumes. Around this time, the 8 Jul 1965 edition noted that Universal considered hiring director Ken Annakin, who was already in Spain completing The Battle of the Bulge (1965, see entry). A report in the 28 Feb 1966 DV revealed that a previous plan to film in Israel had fallen through due to the political climate of the region and the required cooperation of the Israeli Army. By the end of the summer, the 30 Aug 1965 LAT announced Universal’s intentions to move production stateside. Although no U.S. forces were involved in the Siege of Tobruk during World War II, the film unit received assistance from the California National Guard, whose gear was disguised as British and German.
       Principal photography began 20 Jan 1966 in Yuma, AZ, according to a DV news item published that day. All twenty-nine desert battles were expected to be shot in full Technicolor, without the use of any WWII stock footage. Filming also took place at the Salton Sea, a saltwater lake in Imperial County, CA, and the El Centro area just north of the California-Mexico border. The 24 Feb 1966 DV stated that director Arthur Hiller decided to relocate the principal cast to the Universal studios in Los Angeles, CA, while actor Nigel Green recovered from the flu. The following week, Green returned to El Centro for a final four days on location. Although the 25 May 1966 Var indicated that production had recently been completed, a DV brief two months later reported that re-shoots in Yuma had been delayed due to excessive heat.
       According to the 2 Feb 1966 DV, stunt pilot Frank Tallman returned to work overseeing aerial stunts on Tobruk after undergoing a leg amputation in 1965. A few weeks later, a 28 Feb 1966 DV report noted that actor Martin Kosleck had been hired as a German dialect coach, while University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) professor Jivan R. Tabibian served as an Arabic advisor for some scenes featuring Hudson and more than 100 background actors hired to portray “Arab tribesmen.”
       News items in the 28 Dec 1965 DV and 19 May 1966 Los Angeles Sentinel indicated that Bobby Darin and Quincy Jones were both considered to compose the score—a job that ultimately went to Bronislaw Kaper. A 6 Jul 1966 Var brief named Don Record of Visual Arts as the artist responsible for creating the opening titles; however, his participation could not be confirmed.
       The 25 Jan 1967 Var stated that Tobruk would be shown “on popscale” at the Criterion Theatre in New York City beginning 8 Feb 1967. On 21 Feb 1967, LAT advertised the film’s Los Angeles, CA, opening that same day.
       Tobruk received an Academy Award nomination for Special Visual Effects. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 May 1965
p. 3.
Daily Variety
28 Jun 1965
p. 3.
Daily Variety
8 Jul 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Dec 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
20 Jan 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
2 Feb 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
24 Feb 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
24 Feb 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
28 Feb 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Feb 1966
p. 14.
Daily Variety
25 Jul 1966
p. 2.
Los Angeles Sentinel
19 May 1966
Section B, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
1 May 1965
Section B, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
14 Jul 1965
Section C, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
30 Aug 1965
Section C, p. 21.
Los Angeles Times
21 Feb 1967
Section E, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
22 Feb 1967
Section E, p. 13.
New York Times
9 Feb 1967
p. 33.
Variety
29 Dec 1965
p. 3.
Variety
25 May 1966
p. 18.
Variety
6 Jul 1966
p. 15.
Variety
25 Jan 1967
p. 9.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2nd unit dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
In charge of prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Aerial photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Matte supv
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Cliffs
The Cliffs of Mersa
The Cliffs at Mersa
Hot Eye of Hell
Destination Tobruk
Release Date:
February 1967
Premiere Information:
Chicago opening: 7 Feb 1967; New York opening: 8 Feb 1967; Los Angeles opening: 21 Feb 1967
Production Date:
20 Jan--May 1966; re-shoots Jul 1966
Copyright Claimant:
Gibraltar Productions
Copyright Date:
4 March 1967
Copyright Number:
LP35381
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Techniscope
Duration(in mins):
109
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1942 Maj. Donald Craig of the British North African Army is captured by the Vichy French and then rescued by German-born Palestinian Jews working with the Allies. He is taken to the headquarters of Col. John Harker, who explains to him that because of his knowledge of desert topography he is needed for a potentially suicidal raid on the fuel bunkers at Tobruk, a Mediterranean seaport and Rommel's key supply source occupied by German and Italian troops. The plan is to proceed to Tobruk by having the Palestinian Jews, under the command of Capt. Kurt Bergman, pose as German soldiers escorting a battalion of British prisoners. In the course of their long journey across the Libyan Desert, the men trick Italian and German tank units into firing upon each other, shoot down an Allied strafing plane rather than reveal their identity, and capture two Nazi civilian spies. When the spies escape, it becomes apparent to Harker and Craig that one of their group is a traitor, and Bergman becomes the chief suspect. Upon reaching Tobruk, Craig and Harker lead the attack on the fuel depot and the surrounding gun emplacements. In the heat of battle Bergman's second in command, Lieut. Max Mohnfeld, is exposed as the traitor. The intense fighting rages until dawn, and when the mission is completed, only 4 survivors remain of the 83 who started out on the expedition. They are picked up by a small boat from one of the ships in the British task force and evacuated by ... +


In 1942 Maj. Donald Craig of the British North African Army is captured by the Vichy French and then rescued by German-born Palestinian Jews working with the Allies. He is taken to the headquarters of Col. John Harker, who explains to him that because of his knowledge of desert topography he is needed for a potentially suicidal raid on the fuel bunkers at Tobruk, a Mediterranean seaport and Rommel's key supply source occupied by German and Italian troops. The plan is to proceed to Tobruk by having the Palestinian Jews, under the command of Capt. Kurt Bergman, pose as German soldiers escorting a battalion of British prisoners. In the course of their long journey across the Libyan Desert, the men trick Italian and German tank units into firing upon each other, shoot down an Allied strafing plane rather than reveal their identity, and capture two Nazi civilian spies. When the spies escape, it becomes apparent to Harker and Craig that one of their group is a traitor, and Bergman becomes the chief suspect. Upon reaching Tobruk, Craig and Harker lead the attack on the fuel depot and the surrounding gun emplacements. In the heat of battle Bergman's second in command, Lieut. Max Mohnfeld, is exposed as the traitor. The intense fighting rages until dawn, and when the mission is completed, only 4 survivors remain of the 83 who started out on the expedition. They are picked up by a small boat from one of the ships in the British task force and evacuated by sea. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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