|John Sturges Director||previously directed A Girl Named Tamiko|
The Great Escape is based on a true story about a group of men attempting to break out from a German POW camp during World War II.
The Great Escape came third in a poll of he family movie that TV viewers would most want to see on Christmas Day in the UK. For males it was first.12 More Trivia
3 More Quotes
Afraid this tea's pathetic. Must have used these wretched leaves about twenty times. It's not that I mind so much. Tea without milk is so uncivilized.
|Steve McQueen||Virgil Hilts|
|James Garner||Bob Hendley|
|Richard Attenborough||Roger Bartlett|
|Donald Pleasence||Colin Blythe|
|Charles Bronson||Danny Velinski|
|James Coburn||Louis Sedgwick|
|Hannes Messemer||Oberst von Luger|
|David McCallum||Eric Ashley-Pitt|
|Gordon Jackson||Sandy MacDonald|
|John Leyton||William Dickes|
|See Full Credits|
The great escape is a World War II film set in 1943 which tells the story of the true life mass escape from Stalag Luft III. It is produced and directed by John Sturges for the Mirisch Company and released by United Artists. It is based on a book of the same name by Paul Bickhill and was adapted for the screen by James Clavell and William Burnett.
This is a true story. Although the characters are composites of real men, and the time, and place have been compressed.. every detail of the escape is the way it really happened.
After several years of war the Germans have accumulated many prisoners in many camps across Europe and many of the officers have tried to escape as is their sworn duty. Now the Germans have made a new camp and have brought all of the worst offenders together to be watched and guarded at a single specialist camp with the best guards. After a fast paced first twenty minutes there are many escape attempts and also many mistakes by the guards allowing for opportunities but no one makes it out of the camp as the guards know where to look. The prisoners spirits begin to fall until the arrival of Squadron Leader Bartlett, who is delivered to the camp by the Gestapo and the SS and is warned that if he tries to escape again he will be in serious trouble. Once in the camp with the rest of the prisoners Bartlett begins finding out how is there and starts formulating a plan to break out 250 prisoners all at once, since the Germans have put the best escape artists in Europe all together.
At a meeting with the X organisation Bartlett lays out his plan to break out, using tree tunnels named Tom, Dick and Harry. The entire camp then gets to work on the escape with the digging of the tunnels, the finding of the materials needed for the escape, forging the documents needed, making clothes, and dispersing the dirt from the tunnel over the compound. Things are going well but the tunnels keep collapsing due to the ground being too sandy, meaning they need to find more wood to shore up the tunnels. With the progress being made Bartlett decided to should down the other two tunnels and put all the effort into Tom. Things are ready except the camp does not know what is the others side of the trees out side compounds, so Bartlett and the chief of security MacDonald go to speak to Captain Hiltz, the American pilot how continues to attempt break outs but gets caught and ends up in the cooler. They ask Hiltz that if he gets out on his next break out to check out the area and find out where the stations are then get caught so they can have the information. At first he turns them down but when his friend Ives is killed and the tunnel found by the Germans he agrees to do it.
With Tom shut down the prisoners have to open up Harry and get digging again, but swift progress is made. Hiltz is brought back with the information they need and with the tunnel finished the escape is set. As darkness falls the camp is ready to go but when they start to open up the far end of the tunnel they discover the are 20 feet short of the woods and the opening is in the open. They decide to set up a signal and start moving out of the tunnel but when one of the men falls running to cover a guard hears and investigates and discovers the escape, raising the alarm. The next day it is discovered that 76 men have gotten out of the camp in the escape, now the Germans will have to hunt them down.
Bartlett and MacDonald along with many other prisoners make it to the train station and have to wait the next train. When it finally arrives, just as it is leaving some Gestapo arrive to check the passengers, but the forged documents hold up on inspection.They make it to there destination but there are more checks at the other end and and in order to escape another prisoner sacrifices himself for Bartlett. This is in vain though as both Bartlett and Macdonald and many others are soon apprehended by the SS and Gestapo. Of the few still at large Hiltz makes a daring attempt at freedom into Switzerland but is stopped at the border when his motorcycle is shot out from under him. Of all the escapees only three make it to safety and some are returned to the camp but 50 men along with Bartlett and MacDonald are shot by the SS. Hiltz returns to the camp as the commandant is being relieved of his command and he is then immediately returned to his home in the cooler.
The film was shot entirely on location in Europe, with a complete camp resembling Stalag Luft III built near Munich, Germany. Exteriors for the escape sequences were shot in the Rhine Country and areas near the North Sea, and Steve McQueen's motorcycle scenes were filmed in Fussen on the Austrian border and the Alps. All interiors were filmed at the Bavaria Studio in Munich. When the Bavaria Studio's backlot proved to be too small, the production team obtained permission from the German government to shoot in a national forest adjoining the studio. After the end of principal photography, the company restored by reseeding some 2,000 small pine trees that had been damaged in the course of shooting.
Wally Floody, the real-life "Tunnel King" (he was transferred to another camp just before the escape), served as a consultant to the filmmakers, almost full-time, for more than a year.
Critical and public response was mostly enthusiastic. In 1963 New York Times critic Bosley Crowther wrote: "But for much longer than is artful or essential, The Great Escape grinds out its tormenting story without a peek beneath the surface of any man, without a real sense of human involvement. It's a strictly mechanical adventure with make-believe men."British film critic Leslie Halliwell described it as "pretty good but overlong POW adventure with a tragic ending". In Time magazine 1963: "The use of color photography is unnecessary and jarring, but little else is wrong with this film. With accurate casting, a swift screenplay, and authentic German settings, Producer-Director John Sturges has created classic cinema of action. There is no sermonizing, no soul probing, no sex. The Great Escape is simply great escapism".
The film currently as a rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoesstable of British holiday TV and is shown regularly. In a 2006 poll in the UK, regarding the family film that TV viewers would most want to see on Christmas Day, The Great Escape came in third, and was first among the choices of male viewers.