Like with so many war movies from the 50s and 60s "Tobruk" takes something which really happened and then creates a fictional story surrounding it giving us a "men on a mission" set up as we have a group of soldiers on a mission to blow up Rommel's fuel dumps in Tobruk. Whilst in doing so there is nothing seriously wrong with "Tobruk", all but some authenticity issues, it does pitch it against many similar war movies and although solid is not memorable. Having said that it is the only movie I know which mentions the German-Jewish SIG's and gives us an extra mystery element of a traitor within their ranks.
Having arrived at a French PoW camp in Algiers, Maj. Donald Craig (Rock Hudson - Send Me No Flowers) finds himself kidnapped by what seems to be a small group of Nazi's. But things are not as they seem as these men lead by Capt. Bergman (George Peppard - Operation Crossbow) are SIGs, German-Jews who are working with a small British unit and need Donald's knowledge of the Sahara for an audacious mission to blow up Rommel's fuel reserves in Tobruk. But as they make their dangerous journey across the Sahara it also becomes clear that there is a traitor within Bergman's men which makes Colonel Harker (Nigel Green) of the British force even less trusting of them.
So first up it has to be said that "Tobruk" is not an authentic account of the attempt to blow up the fuel dumps at Tobruk but another war movie in the sub genre of "men on a mission" which uses a historical event as the source. But that is not the only issue of authenticity to deal with as there are issues with tanks made to look like Nazi tanks and not being convincing for those who know their tanks. Of course for those who don't then you wouldn't even notice and it doesn't spoil what really is a solid action movie.
So we are talking "men on a mission" movie and that means after the opening kidnapping scene where Maj. Craig is taken from the PoW camp which happens to be a boat, we get the various events on the trek across the dessert. These include traversing a mine field, finding themselves in a valley between enemies, local militia and so on all of which is nicely done but not that surprising. In fact to start with "Tobruk" feels like all it is going to be is a series of action ideas with little to connect them but then we get the extra element of excitement which is the traitor in the camp. It is nicely worked because it's not until the end do we discover the identity of the traitor which allows us the added entertainment of trying to work out who it is. Add to that a couple of Brits who sympathize with the Nazi's and there is more to "Tobruk" than just typical action.
There is also another element and that is the lack of trust between the British soldiers and those which are German-Jews which not only gives us some drama but thanks to the casting of Percy Herbert and Norman Rossington some humour. Talking of Percy Herbert and Norman Rossington who seem to crop up in so many war movies the main performances from Rock Hudson, George Peppard and Nigel Green are all solid. But at the same time their performances and characters are forgettable which is how "Tobruk" ends up because whilst it tries to create some depth to interweave with the action it never manages to really command your attention and get you gripped by what is going on.
What this all boils down to is that "Tobruk" is a solid war movie which gives us a typical "men on a mission" set up. It is entertaining and has a touch of depth as well but lacks that something extra to make it memorable.