1960s The Great Escape (1963)

Published on August 29th, 2007 | by Chris

2

The Great Escape (1963)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On August 29, 2007
Last modified:October 8, 2012

Summary:

The Great Escape is actuallly a *fun* movie. It's loosely based on a series of real events from the Paul Brickhill bookof the same name. The story follows a band of Allied POW's who have a nasty habit of escape attempts from their Nazi prison camps, and have all been sent off to a new, "escape proof" camp. Of course they have other plans.

The Great Escape (1963)I almost hate to say this, but The Great Escape is actuallly a *fun* movie.  It's loosely based on a series of real events from the Paul Brickhill book of the same name.   The story follows a band of Allied POW's who have a nasty habit of escape attempts from their Nazi prison camps, and have all been sent off to a new, "escape proof" camp.  Of course they have other plans.

They band together in various and intricate ways to construct an elaborate tunnel out of the complex.  The methods they employ in this endeavour are truly ingenious, from dirt-dumping mechanisms, to elaborate forgeries of documents and creating civilian clothing from the rags they've got at hand.

When I say "fun", I mean that it manages to keep itself light-hearted and optimistic, right up until the end.  Where other films like Stalag 17 and TV such as Hogan's Heroes play up the comedy to a point where you start getting a bit uncomfortable, The Great Escape manages to maintain an air of suspense and immediacy that make it a true war movie classic.  In fact the movie was nominated for an Oscar for best editing, along with several other awards.  The all-star cast factors into this film's status as well, with such staples as Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasance, James Coburn, and David McCallum.

Of course the tunnel was only partially successful, as only a fraction of the intended escapees actually made it out, and most of them were later caught and either executed or brought back to the camp.  This last bit of the film sort of brings the whole thing to a bit of an anti-climax, as we bear witness to the capture and desperation, and the execution of most of them.  The few who do make it out, though, make the entire effort worthwhile.

Above all, though, the freedom-loving spirit of the film remains intact, even as Hilts (McQueen) heads off to "the cooler" with his baseball in hand yet again.

In a way, too, it illustrates a bit of the paradox that existed when it came to the Nazis and the Allied POW's, as they appear to follow a lot of western military "honor" in the way the prisoners were treated.  Compare and contrast.  Additionally, we get a glimpse into a bit of the German politics of the day, as the Luftwaffe officer in charge of the camp seems content to, as he puts it, "comfortably sit out the war", and attempts to convince the prisoners to do the same.  Finally he's escorted off by the SS to an unpleasant fate.

But all of that is second to the aforementioned spirit of the movie, and the interludes of comedy that not only keep us entertained, but further that spirit for the prisoners.  Of note in that respect is the "4th of July" celebration.

The Great Escape definitely is on the list of all-time war movie classics.

The Great Escape (2-Disc Collector's Set) The Great Escape (2-Disc Collector's Set)
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Description

In 1943, the Germans opened Stalag Luft North, a maximum-security prisoner-of-war camp, designed tohold even the craftiest escape artists. In doing so, however, the Nazis unwittingly assembled the finest escape team in military historybrilliantly portrayed here by Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson and James Coburnwho worked on what became the largest prison breakout ever attempted...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: Unrated
Brand: TCFHE/MGM
Manufacturer: MGM (Video & DVD)
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Steve McQueen
  • James Garner
  • Richard Attenborough
  • Charles Bronson
  • Donald Pleasence

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Based on a true story, July 12, 2016
By 
J. Chambers (Georgia, United States) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Great Escape (Amazon Video)
With its iconic scene of Steve McQueen racing toward the Swiss border on a motorcycle, The Great Escape is one of my top five World War II movies, and I've seen it at least a half-dozen times, including my first time when the film was released in 1963. It's a great action movie with an all-star cast.

The Great Escape is an absorbing account of life in a POW camp, including the endless planning for escape by men who went stir-crazy when cooped up behind barbed wire. POWs came up with some ingenious ways to escape, but the most intriguing were the tunnels. In the movie, the POWs were digging three tunnels (nicknamed "Tom," "Dick," and "Harry") with the idea that if one or two of them were discovered, they would still have one good tunnel. The logistics required, plus the excavation of the tunnel itself, were amazing feats, with the detailed planning and preparation of civilian clothing, forged documents, maps, and compasses, while doing all of this... Read more
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looks great, June 10, 2013
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I don't normally read other reviews of a product before I write one ... unless I am uncertain about a purchase and want to see what customers who already have the product report about it.

In this case there were warnings of a "so-so" transfer and the use of DNR (digital noise reduction) ... which gets rid of film damage artifacts but can also blur detail.

I can report that I see plenty of detail in this film, and the colors are superb. The sound is also outstanding, and I'm a tough sell on that where this film is concerned, as the famous theme is a favorite piece of music for me. The sound is well balanced between effects, music, and dialogue. I have no complaints whatsoever about it.

Once you get past the opening scenes of trucks approaching the POW camp, the picture looks sharp from then on. I've noticed in many films that longer views of outdoor scenes tend to look very grainy, especially once they get to Blu ray resolution. So the graininess in... Read more
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Escape on Instant Video, September 2, 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Great Escape (Amazon Video)
First of all, this is an excellent adaptation of the book by Paul Brickhill. Although many of the movie characters are composites of the real people, the storyline is still faithful to the spirit of the book. It deals with the escape of a group of bad egg prisoners of war stuck in a nazi prison camp. These are the best of the best prison escapees sent to a prison camp to watch and keep from escape (the first duty of a prisoner). The men openly show their resolve to keep a nice camp and settle down until the end of the war, all the while actually planning and attempting a daring escape of hundreds of prisoners at one time. It's a compelling read and movie view. The stars are excellent from the smallest role to the bigger ones, by larger than life actors like Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence and many more recognizable faces. It's an all around great movie, but also, a very sobering story as this is based on real men with real... Read more
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The Great Escape (1963) Chris

Summary: The Great Escape is actuallly a *fun* movie. It's loosely based on a series of real events from the Paul Brickhill bookof the same name. The story follows a band of Allied POW's who have a nasty habit of escape attempts from their Nazi prison camps, and have all been sent off to a new, "escape proof" camp. Of course they have other plans.

4.5


User Rating: 4.8 (1 votes)


About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



2 Responses to The Great Escape (1963)

  1. Rescue Dawn is a based on the true story of Navy pilot Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale), a Navy pilot who gets shot down over Laos during the early part of the Vietnam War on his first combat mission.  He’s taken prisoner, and eventually escapes.&nbsp

  2. As is usually the case for a Memorial Day Weekend, several cable/satellite networks will be chock full of classic war movies this coming weekend. Namely Turner Classic Movies, Fox Movie Channel, and AMC. I’m sure there are many more but these are “The B

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