Great Escape (1963) - (DVD)
Starring James Garner et al
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Christo, Wilropark. 8 February 2008
The Great Escape, written by James Clavell and W.R. Burnett and directed by John Sturges is an acclaimed 1963 World War II film, based on a true story about Allied POWs with a record for escaping from POW camps. The Nazis and Gestapo placed them in a new more secure German camp, from which they promptly form a plan to break out 250 men.
The film was based upon the book of the same name by Paul Brickhill, who observed the actual events as a prisoner.
Featuring an all-star, Anglo-American cast — including Steve McQueen (whose motorcycle chase is the film's most remembered action scene), Richard Attenborough, James Coburn, James Garner, Charles Bronson and Donald Pleasence — The Great Escape is regarded as a classic and frequently repeated on television. The march tune that serves as the film's theme, written by Elmer Bernstein has also become a classic.
The German high command becomes annoyed by the men and resources wasted recapturing escaping POW's, so it takes the most determined and successful and moves them to a brand new, high-security prison camp, which the commandant, von Luger (Hannes Messemer), proclaims escape proof. The most dangerous of all, Roger Bartlett (Richard Attenborough), known as "Big X", is dropped off by the Gestapo.
When he finds himself locked up with "every escape artist in Germany", Bartlett immediately begins planning the largest escape ever attempted. Teams of men are organized to survey, dig, hide the dirt, manufacture civilian clothing, forge documents, provide security and distractions, and procure contraband materials. The "scrounger", Henley (James Garner), finds ingeniously devious ways to get whatever the others need, from a camera to identity cards. Danny Velinski (Charles Bronson) is in charge of the digging, while forgery is handled by Colin Blythe (Donald Pleasence).
The prisoners work on three escape tunnels ("Tom", "Dick" and "Harry") simultaneously. After the first tunnel is discovered, they put all their efforts into completing the third.
The last part of the tunnel is completed on the night of the escape, but is found to be twenty feet short of the woods that would provide cover. Nevertheless, seventy-five men escape before one is finally spotted coming out of the tunnel.
After various attempts to reach neutral Switzerland, Sweden, and Spain, including Hilts' (Steve McQueen) famous motorcyle chase at the Swiss border, almost all of the escapees are recaptured or killed. Only three make it to safety. Instead of being returned to camp, fifty of the captured prisoners, including Bartlett, are taken to an open field and gunned down. Senior British officer, Group Captain Ramsey (James Donald), learns of the massacre from von Luger, who has been relieved of command.
Region 2 - Europe (except Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories.