Great Escape

The Great Escape

4.9 9
Director: John Sturges

Cast: John Sturges, Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough

     
 

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The Great Escape is based on the true story of a group of Allied prisoners of war who managed to escape from an allegedly impenetrable Nazi prison camp during World War II. At the beginning of the film, the Nazis gather all their most devious and troublesome POWs and place them at a new prison camp, which was designed to be impervious to escapes. Immediately,…  See more details below

Overview

The Great Escape is based on the true story of a group of Allied prisoners of war who managed to escape from an allegedly impenetrable Nazi prison camp during World War II. At the beginning of the film, the Nazis gather all their most devious and troublesome POWs and place them at a new prison camp, which was designed to be impervious to escapes. Immediately, the prisoners develop a scheme where they will leave the camp by building three separate escape tunnels. Richard Attenborough is the British soldier who masterminds the whole plan, and who commands his motley squad--featuring Charles Bronson as a Polish trench-digging expert, James Garner as an American with a talent for theft, Donald Pleasence as a masterful forger, and Steve McQueen as an American rebel--through the construction of the tunnels and, eventually, their escape. An epic adventure film, The Great Escape runs nearly three hours, featuring a rousing Elmer Bernstein score and exciting action sequences -- including a notorious motorcycle chase between McQueen and the Nazis -- the likes of which had never been seen before in Hollywood productions.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Director John Sturges (The Magnificent Seven) pulls out all the stops in The Great Escape, his classic big-budget World War II POW extravaganza. The title pretty much says it all: The film tells the true story of some determined Allied prisoners who manage to tunnel out of a new and presumably escape-proof camp in which they have all been interred. Sturges lovingly details every aspect of their elaborate scheme, as the prisoners bring a host of skills -- engineering, forgery, and even tailoring -- to the job at hand. There is some rudimentary character development along the way, but don’t expect detailed, complex glimpses into the inner workings of these guys’ psyches. The inmates (Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, James Garner, and many more) are cleanly drawn as heroic to a man, and their camaraderie, ingenuity, and courage allows them to pull off a truly impressive feat. Yes, these are idealized portraits, but immensely satisfying ones. The structure of The Great Escape evokes a powerful sense of liberation, as the claustrophobic atmosphere of the first half of the film gives way to open-air chases in the second half, including McQueen's famous motorcycle romp through some spectacular wide-screen vistas of the German countryside, with a battalion of soldiers in hot pursuit. Topping it all off is a memorable -- and eminently whistle-able -- score from Elmer Bernstein. The Great Escape is Hollywood entertainment at its finest. Sit back and enjoy.
All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
John Sturges' The Great Escape could easily be the most under-appreciated movie of its genre and decade, which may seem a strange thing to say about a movie that is one of the most popular World War II adventure films ever made. It not only defined the screen personae of Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough and much of the rest of the cast, but along with The Magnificent Seven represented a high-water mark in Sturges' career. Yet, despite that and the millions of dollars it earned at the box office, The Great Escape didn't command much respect until years after its release. Critics lumped the film together with such mammoth World War II productions as The Longest Day, The Guns of Navarone and Battle of the Bulge and overlooked its unique status as a fundamentally tragic movie that still managed to appeal to audiences in an upbeat manner. Beneath the fact-based heroics, the humor of many of the portrayals and Elmer Bernstein's rich, rousing score lay the elements of a classic tragedy. While ordinary viewers responded to the driving dramatic forces among the characters -- Bartlett's obsession, Hilts's self-absorption and cynicism, Hedley's practical approach to survival and the mission -- critics and scholars viewed the movie as an artless, empty blockbuster. They were looking for self-conscious subtlety and obvious artistic touches in a story that required only a straightforward, unpretentious telling. The Great Escape expresses its depth and drama through action rather than ponderous dialogue, and in that sense, was probably too true to its subject for its own good, at least in terms of achieving critical respect. Only in recent years have film historians grudgingly confronted the fact that The Great Escape's audience has broadened since its release, and reappraised its unique qualities.
All Movie Guide
John Sturges' The Great Escape could easily be the most under-appreciated movie of its genre and decade, which may seem a strange thing to say about a movie that is one of the most popular World War II adventure films ever made. It not only defined the screen personae of Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough and much of the rest of the cast, but along with The Magnificent Seven represented a high-water mark in Sturges' career. Yet, despite that and the millions of dollars it earned at the box office, The Great Escape didn't command much respect until years after its release. Critics lumped the film together with such mammoth World War II productions as The Longest Day, The Guns of Navarone and Battle of the Bulge and overlooked its unique status as a fundamentally tragic movie that still managed to appeal to audiences in an upbeat manner. Beneath the fact-based heroics, the humor of many of the portrayals and Elmer Bernstein's rich, rousing score lay the elements of a classic tragedy. While ordinary viewers responded to the driving dramatic forces among the characters -- Bartlett's obsession, Hilts's self-absorption and cynicism, Hedley's practical approach to survival and the mission -- critics and scholars viewed the movie as an artless, empty blockbuster. They were looking for self-conscious subtlety and obvious artistic touches in a story that required only a straightforward, unpretentious telling. The Great Escape expresses its depth and drama through action rather than ponderous dialogue, and in that sense, was probably too true to its subject for its own good, at least in terms of achieving critical respect. Only in recent years have film historians grudgingly confronted the fact that The Great Escape's audience has broadened since its release, and reappraised its unique qualities. Bruce Eder

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Product Details

Release Date:
05/07/2013
UPC:
0883904228479
Original Release:
1963
Rating:
NR
Source:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
2:52:00
Sales rank:
5,496

Special Features

Audio commentary by director John Sturges, cast & crew; 8 featurettes including The Untold Story, The Real Virgil Hilts & more!

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Steve McQueen "Cooler King" Hilts
James Garner "The Scrounger" Hendley
Richard Attenborough "Big X" Bartlett
James Donald Senior Officer Ramsey
Charles Bronson Danny Velinski
James Coburn "The Manufacturer" Sedgwick
David McCallum Ashley-Pitt "Dispersal"
Donald Pleasence "The Forger" Blythe
Gordon Jackson MacDonald "Intelligence"
John Leyton Willie "Tunnel King"
Angus Lennie "The Mole" Ives
Nigel Stock Cavendish "The Surveyor"
Jud Taylor Goff
William Russell Sorren
Robert Desmond "The Tailor" Griffith
Tom Adams Nimmo
Lawrence Montaigne Haynes
Hannes Messemer Von Lugar "The Kommandant"
Robert Graf Werner "The Ferret"
Harry Riebauer Strachwitz
Hans Reiser Kuhn
Robert Freitag Posen
Heinz Weiss Kramer
Til Kiwe Frick
Ulrich Beiger Preissen
George Mikell Dietrich
Karl Otto Alberty Steinach

Technical Credits
John Sturges Director,Producer
Elmer Bernstein Score Composer
W.R. Burnett Screenwriter
Fernando Carrere Art Director
James Clavell Screenwriter
Bud Ekins Stunts
Daniel L. Fapp Cinematographer
Bert Henrikson Costumes/Costume Designer
Emile LaVigne Makeup
Jack N. Reddish Asst. Director
Ferris Webster Editor

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The Great Escape 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this DVD in my stocking this year. Santa must know that I like war movies and this is a great one. The plot is intense and makes your pulse race from the opening shot. The most fun part is seeing ALL of the tremendous actors who are part of this film: James Garner, Charles Bronson, and all those British guys you know their faces, but not their names. I find it odd that Steve McQueen is given top billing. It seems to me that he had more of a cameo or walk-on than a starring role. Watch the documentary and you'll know why. I can't beleive that this movie was to be shot in California! This movie would not have been half as good if it had not been shot in Europe. The Polish set is amazing! It just goes to show that ''they don't make em' like they used to''.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Great Escape is a must for all war movie lovers. Hey it's a must for all movie lovers. About 300 POWs find themselves in a camp which is filed 'escape-proof'. The Nazi's put all of their most troublesome escape artists in one camp, or as the commandant puts it ''All of the rotten eggs in one basket.'' Well let me tell you, these men are not going to stand by quietly and sit out the war as comfortablely as possible, as the commandant puts it. They are going to dig! And they don't plan to take out three or a dozen, how about more like 200. Based on a true story, the Great Escape is a wonderful movie for all. With the escape exactly as it happened in real life, it will keep you gripping the arms of your chair. Oh, and don't forget the awesome motorcycle chase with Steve McQueen. With great music by Elmer Bernstein, and great actors like Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, James Garner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn and many more, you can't afford to miss this movie. Made with just the right amount of laughter and action, it's a movie that you will cherish forever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While McQueen's character is more or less a composite, the basic story of Tom, Dick and Harry at Stalag Luft III is true. My father was a ''penguin'', one of many POWs who assisted in the real life escape plot, and he still bears the scars of his captivity today. ''The Great Escape'' is one of his favorite movies, too.
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