Published on May 24th, 2008 | by Chris0
The One That Got Away (1957)
Continuing in the vein of "films that have some relevance in real life..." we've got 1957's The One That Got Away. It's the "true" story of one Franz Von Werra (Hardy Kruger), a German pilot shot down over England, taken prisoner, and who finally escapes and makes it back to Germany to continue the war, the only man to pull off that feat.
The picture opens with Werra being shot down, and taken prisoner by the local civilian defense patrols. From there he's sent off to an interim location for interrogation. It's clear to the British (and to us) that he's not your ordinary average pilot. It seems he's quite the celebrity back home, and somewhat of an "ace" to boot.
From there he's sent off to his first POW camp, and of course, attempts to escape. But, of course, he's captured again, and sent off to yet another camp.
His real break comes, though, as he's sent overseas, to a POW camp in Canada. In the harsh winter, he manages to bail out of the transport train, and makes his way to the St. Lawrence. After a great struggle to cross the river, he finally ends up on the other side, in the still neutral (this is before the US got involved) US of A. And its here that our story ends.
The final crawl tells us the rest of the story, how Werra manages to get back to Germany, only to be killed in action later.
I'll be honest, its hard to get behind Werra in his efforts, knowing that he's "the bad guy" here, but you do eventually. You will actually find yourself rooting for him. But it takes a little while. It wouldn't be possible without the excellent performance by Kruger as Werra. His swagger and attitude throughout the film actually makes you believe that he can pull this off. It also goes a long way towards defining the arrogant "celebrity" nature of the character. In that respect its really a great performance. He also manages to portray a great desparation in the final scenes, as it's clear he's not sure if he'll make it across the river or not.
Kruger is the real star here, I can say that none of the other characters were particularly memorable. Except maybe for the British officer who receives his postcard from Werra, claiming his victory in his wager that he would escape eventually.
There's also a very, very slight undertone to the picture, when the whole "neutral country" issue is raised, and in respect to the US. Being a British-produced film, I can't help but wonder if that was meant as a slight poke at pre-war US policy or not. Just something to consider.
The One That Got Away is pretty predictable, as we know in advance the final outcome. But as they say, getting there is where the fun is. So I have to give an overall thumbs up, if nothing else as an excellent popcorn-muncher for a lazy weekend.
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Summary: The One That Got Away is pretty predictable, as we know in advance the final outcome. But as they say, getting there is where the fun is.