Saturday, November 16, 2013

406. The Great Escape

The Great Escape
Directed by John Sturges

So I am now convinced that this cold is just a part of who I am and will almost certainly never go away.    At the very least, it has allowed me to watch a ton of movies.  And after a string of um, questionable films we finally get to one that I enjoyed.  Get ready for a rave, ladies and gentlemen.

This film is based on the true story of the escape of Allied prisoners from Stalag Luft III during World War II.  I actually remember someone doing a presentation on the accuracy of this movie in high school and making a mental note to watch it.  That was…never mind how many years ago but I finally got to it.  See, I didn't forget, Sean Miller aka the guy who had no idea I existed.

Most war films seem to all be the same, especially Vietnam films (I am so not looking forward to that era), so I tend to get bored with them quite easily.  This movie, however, completely blew away.  Going through the checklist, we get great actors, great dialogue, and great action.

It is the sworn duty of all Allied officers to constantly try to escape, over and over again, no matter how many times they are caught and punished.  This put a really interesting twist on the formulaic prison escape genre (I say that lovingly since I am obsessed with those movies).  The standard is switched; it is weird if you don't have numerous amounts of escape attempts to your name.

Every scene is done beautifully and it is all the more fascinating since it is based on a true story.  A must see.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Steve McQueen performed most of his own stunts.

Charles Bronson fell in love with David McCallum's wife during production.



  1. I have to watch this again! After reading your review I remembered how good this movie was---thanks for the reminder!

  2. Somewhat of a surprise, as I expected this to be dismissed as a boys film.
    Being of a certain age, I was brought up on these stories.. especially the legend about this event, so it carries a certain amount of cultural baggage with it - perhaps second only in POW stories to The Colditz story.
    The film of this occupies a strange part of every male's make up. We can all recite bits of dialogue and it is repeatedly referenced in .. all sorts of things. Unusually, we even forgive it for the Hollywoodisation of the story -(There were no Americans at this camp), and whilst all other characters have a genuine place in real history, McQueen & Bronson's characters are pure invention.
    So for me, it's too much a part of the landscape to appreciate.

    1. I guess I didn't think of it as a boys film since there wasn't anything particularly offensive to women (unlike the abominable MASH), they just happened to be absent. As for the insertion of Americans, well, it is not the first time we have gone where we weren't wanted/needed. I totally get why you wouldn't like it though!

  3. It was a lot of fun to watch this movie. In the beginning the Hollywood make-over was annoying me, but it soon faded and I learned to accept it as I would a superhero story and once there, it was great to watch.
    I like the comments from Ray, this movie has gone into popular culture a long time ago.

  4. I have an issue with this film, which everyone else finds frivolous but I think important.

    Basically, it stems from the title. The GREAT Escape. GREAT. So what are things that could make an escape "great"? Surely the most fundamental aspect is that they actually escaped, yes? But most of them were caught and shot! Which is the only detail that makes the incident a notable piece of history and therefore converted into a film. What's great about that? Perhaps that should have called it The Calamitous Escape.

  5. - Good morning Dessie.. Please allow me to disagree a bit ..
    'Great' as in big, not as in good. It was deliberately planned to be a great number of escapees to overwhelm the search efforts, even tie up a huge number of military personnel that could otherwise be actively serving elsewhere, and in the hope that the greater number out there, the greater chance some would make it.
    Yes, sure, the idea backfired in that the higher command in Germany regarded it as deliberate sabotage and authorised the executions.
    Escaping POWs are protected by various rules such as Geneva Convention, but enemy personnel in civilian clothing or 'false flag' uniforms in hostile territory can, sort of, legitimately, be seen as spies / saboteurs for which execution has always been regarded as accepted. (Several Germans in civilian clothing were executed in the UK). A blind eye had always been turned to the odd few POWs wandering about Germany pretending to be, say, migrant workers - it was the sheer scale of this 'great' escape that angered the Germans so much.

    I see your point, but it was known as the 'great' escape (the book amongst other places), long before the film..
    Sorry, please forgive my sad gittery!