Desert Victory is a 1943 film produced by the British Ministry of Information, documenting the Allies' North African campaign against Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and the Afrika Korps. This documentary traces the struggle between General Erwin Rommel and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, from the German's defeat at El Alamein to Tripoli. Like the famous "Why We Fight" series of films by Frank Capra, Desert Victory relies heavily on captured German newsreel footage. Many of the most famous sequences in the film have been excerpted and appear with frequency in History Channel and A&E productions. The film was produced by David MacDonald, and directed by Roy Boulting who also directed Tunisian Victory and Burma Victory.
A photograph of a box containing the presentation print of the film 'Desert Victory', which was to be sent by the Prime Minister to General Montgomery in Tripoli. The box is covered in stickers marked 'urgent'.
This film won a special Academy Award in 1943. The 1951 film The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel relied heavily on this production for its battle footage.
The film has been criticised for emphasizing the British role in the victory, while playing down the American contribution to the battle. Mark Harris, author of the "Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War," a novel about the role five prominent Hollywood directors played in the war, has stated in an interview on Turner Classic Movies that when asked about the omission, the British war department retorted that the Americans "didn't have any good footage."
A sequel, "Tunisian Victory," was produced as a co-allied production between British and American propaganda agencies, with American filmmakers Frank Capra and John Huston allegedly restaging actual events, such as liberations, as well as tank and air battles(some of which was actually filmed in Orlando, Florida) to achieve high quality footage that the British couldn't refuse. The British supposedly knew immediately that the footage was fake, but since they themselves restaged much of the footage, this uneasy collaboration continued.