HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Last Warrior, The
Artemis 81
Rampage
Quiet Place, A
Braven
Changeover, The
Isle of Dogs
Funny Cow
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Mad to Be Normal
Beast of Burden
Dead Men Walk
Game Night
Under the Tree
L'Amant Double
Gonin
Coco
Producers, The
Molly's Game
Forest of the Lost Souls, The
Hatchet III
Birdman of Alcatraz
Pacific Rim: Uprising
Wonderstruck
If It Ain't Stiff, It Ain't Worth a Fuck
Nun, The
Red Sparrow
My Friend Dahmer
Journeyman
Heat, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Players of Games: Willy Wonka, Tron and Ready Player One
What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round? The Ends of The Monkees
Flings and Arrows: Conquest vs Flesh + Blood
Orson Around: F for Fake and The Late Great Planet Earth
ITC What You Did There: Retro-Action on Blu-ray
And It Was the Dirtiest Harry We Have Seen in a Very Long Time: The Dirty Harry Series
Manor On Movies: The Astounding She Monster
Manor On Movies: Don't be a dolt. That's not a cult (movie)
Wes Anderson's Big Daddies: Steve Zissou and Others
Bad Taste from Outer Space: Galaxy of Terror and Xtro
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
Time for Heroes: The Dam Busters and How I Won the War
   
 
  Great Escape, The Now Get Out Of ThatBuy this film here.
Year: 1963
Director: John Sturges
Stars: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Donald Pleasence, James Donald, Gordon Jackson, Hannes Messemer, John Leyton, David McCallum, Angus Lennie, Nigel Stock, William Russell
Genre: War
Rating:  7 (from 7 votes)
Review: World War Two: the Nazis have built a high-security prisoner of war camp to house the men who have escaped repeatedly. But those Allied officers believe that it is their duty to escape - not simply to get away, but to cause as much trouble as possible for the enemy, and it's not long before a daring plan is drawn up...

This staple of holiday television was written by James Clavell and W.R. Burnett, based on the book by Paul Brickhill. Although the story seems far fetched, it is actually based on true events, which may become hard to believe when you see the Herculean efforts the captured forces put into securing their freedom, from building secret tunnels to blackmailing cameras out of guards.

Steve McQueen is top billed, and his cocky, rebellious presence is certainly one of the film's strengths. But its main virtue is the ensemble cast, all of whom are just as adept at the serious scenes as they are in the contrasting lighter moments. James Garner is the scrounger, a charming rogue who can get just about anything; a touching relationship develops between him and Donald Pleasence, who despite being an expert forger is going blind. Charles Bronson alternates between tough determination and panic attacks; James Coburn is the easygoing Australian (at least, that accent is supposed to be Australian); and Richard Attenborough holds it all together as the mastermind behind the whole thing.

What develops is a battle of wits between prisoners and guards. The Nazis are largely unlikeable, although the Luftwaffe who run the camp are shown to be preferable to the formidable SS or Gestapo, whose deadly influence falls over the story and leads to the downbeat ending, which ponders if the whole escapade was worth it, before settling on a "victory in defeat" tone to finish with.

We never forget the claustrophobic nature of the camp - the cells are cramped and even outside barbed wire fences are in just about every shot. It's a long film which spends over half of its running time in the confined spaces of the prison, so when our heroes finally get out in the last hour, the freedom of the rolling landscape is strongly felt. But it's also deceptive, as the search intensifies. This final hour contains many of the classic scenes, from the "Thank you" bit to McQueen's famous motorbike chase.

Even if the prisoners' ingenuity stretches credibility (you may be reminded of the Ripping Yarns episode where P.O.W. Michael Palin constructs a plane out of toilet rolls), The Great Escape succeeds because it never loses sight of the inspiring adventure of the indomitable human spirit that it tells. Even if you don't normally like war stories, you should be won over by this one. Trivia question: do you remember who gets away? Memorable music by Elmer Bernstein.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 7917 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Robert Segedy
Darren Jones
  Asma Amal
  Chris Lawrence
Enoch Sneed
George White
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: