Director: John Sturgess
Genre: Action/ Drama/ Adventure
Runtime: 172 minutes
Starring: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, James Coburn, Donald Pleasance, Charles Bronson
Description: Allied P.O.W.s plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German camp during World War II.
Review: An exciting war movie filled with adventure, based on a true story from World War II. Real prisoner Paul Brickhill wrote a book about his experience in Stalag Luft III and the great escape. This was the base of the film.
Although the prisoners of war were mostly British, the makers of the film added some Americans to the cast. James Coburn plays the role of Louise Sedgwick, nicknamed the Manufacturer, because he’s very handy. James Garner is Hendley, the Scrounger, a thief who is able to get all the equipment for the outbreak. But the biggest American contribution comes from Steve McQueen, as Virgil Hilts, also known as Cooler King. The ‘cooler’ is the special isolated cell, where Hilts ends up whenever he tries to escape on his own. Steve McQueen wanted to do his own stunts, which gave us a fantastic chase scene, that is considered an absolute classic. Last we have Charles Bronson, as the taciturn Danny Velinski, the Tunnel King. He is responsible for the digging of the tunnel that will lead them to freedom. Even though Bronson’s acting is limited, he’s right where he should be. From the British front we have Richard Attenborough, who plays the leader of the escapees, Roger Bartlett. And Donald Pleasance who is forger Blythe, who slowly loses his sight in the process.
“The Great Escape” is a good example of a classic Hollywood war movie, filled with adventure, tension, wit and tough guys with a noble nature. The allied soldiers see it as their duty to escape and the Germans do everything to stop them. A cat and mouse hunt unravels. The story is fast paced and although it’s a war movie, it’s presented light and subtle. The prisoners aren't treated bad at all, there is a certain naivety among the Germans. When the prisoners escape, the tone of the movie changes and the drama isn’t as light anymore.
I’m glad that I can finally mark “The Great Escape” as watched, because it was worth the time. It’s an absolute classic and I loved Steve McQueen in this movie.
Rating: 4,5 / 5