Total Film - 07/01/2000
"...THE GREAT ESCAPE is the finest, all-out entertaining movie from that pot of World War Two, multi-star films..." -- 4 out of 5 stars
Premiere - 06/01/2004
"[ESCAPE] features lush European landscapes, an infectious score, and McQueen's iconic motorcycle antics."
Entertainment Weekly - 05/28/2004
"[With] strong performances by actors as varied as Donald Pleasence and Charles Bronson..."
John Sturges's dramatization of the true story of a group of British, American, and Canadian POWs who successfully escaped from Stalag Luft III in Upper Silesia in March 1944 is arguably the best World War II adventure film ever made. A host of big-name stars meshes beautifully in this meticulous recreation of the legendary escape. Although this is a film about courage, Sturges wisely takes a low-key approach, leavened with humor, rather than allowing the cast to indulge in macho antics.
The German high command has filtered out all of the allies' most talented escape artists and placed them in a POW camp specifically designed to foil any unwanted departures. But as soon as they arrive, the prisoners, led by Steve McQueen as the rebellious Virgil Hilts, begin work on a series of tunnels under the direction of Roger "Big X" Bartlett (Richard Attenborough). He assigns the POWs to jobs according to their specialties. For more than a year, 600 prisoners, most of whom won't be leaving, work toward an escape that will temporarily disrupt the operations of the German army. THE GREAT ESCAPE, based on the book by Paul Brickhill, featuring many key scenes (McQueen's motorcycle chase, McQueen tossing the baseball against the cell wall, Bronson sliding on his chest in the tunnel) that are simply unforgettable.
Essential Cinema |
Prison / Prisoners |
True Story |
World War II
Theatrical release: August 8, 1963.
Shooting location: Bavaria, Germany.
Donald Pleasence, the Forger, was an RAF wireless operator during the war, serving time in a German POW camp after his Lancaster was shot down.
Walt Floody, the actual Tunnel King, was a technical adviser on the film.
The famous barbed-wire scene that made Steve McQueen's career was done by his friend, stuntman Bud Elkins, with one of the Triumph 600s used in the film.