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The Great Escape (1963)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, History | 4 July 1963 (USA)
Allied prisoners of war plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German camp during World War II.

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Top Rated Movies #125 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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Robert Graf ...
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Storyline

Based on a true story, a group of allied escape artist-type prisoners-of-war (POWs) are all put in an 'escape proof' camp. Their leader decides to try to take out several hundred all at once. The first half of the film is played for comedy as the prisoners mostly outwit their jailers to dig the escape tunnel. The second half is high adventure as they use boats and trains and planes to get out of occupied Europe. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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Hours ago... Minutes ago.... These men were behind barbed wire. See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

4 July 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran escape  »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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(Westrex Recording System)|

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The hooch-making scene in the film, where the Americans celebrated Independence Day, is believed to be based on the British creating an alcohol distillery for Christmas Day celebrations in 1943. Captain Guy Griffiths, a Royal Marine pilot in Stalag Luft III who produced forged documents for the escape, also produced a comical illustration of the scene which survives to this day. This painting, along with many others, forms the basis for a Special Exhibition on 'Griff' at the Royal Marines Museum (Southsea, England) running from Easter 2010. See more »

Goofs

Near the beginning of the movie, after Hilts takes his baseball and glove out of his rather large tan satchel, he drops the satchel onto the ground. He then works his way to the warning wire, where a shot of him from the fence clearly shows where the satchel should be in the background, but it is no longer there. See more »

Quotes

Herr Kuhn: [to Bartlett] Squadron Leader Bartlett, if you escape again, and are captured, you will be SHOT!
Herr Kuhn: [to Von Luger] Heil Hitler!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Inglourious Basterds (2009) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

GREAT MOVIE: MORE HISTORICALLY ACCURATE THAN SOME REALIZE...
11 January 2004 | by (Stowe, Vermont) – See all my reviews

This is a great movie which much more historically accurate than it is often given credit for. So many who say otherwise are ill-informed and obviously don't know much about the actual history of that actual escape. The depiction of what happened to the recaptured prisoners in the movie of THE GREAT ESCAPE is reasonably accurate as detailed on the historyinfilm site...specifically on the "Reprisal" page; along with being detailed in the various published accounts.

Hitler ultimately calmed down after being reasoned with by Goering, Feldmarschall Keitel, Maj-Gen Graevenitz and Maj-Gen Westhoff, and dictated that more than half the prisoners be shot and cremated. So, as depicted in the film, several of those recaptured were not executed and were indeed returned to confinement. In fact, even those executed were not "shot on the spot" for the most part, but were actually executed later after being turned over to the Gestapo; most being shot while being allowed to relieve themselves, under the guise of "trying to escape".

Furthermore, there are many accounts as to how much more humane the environment was within the camp (which even had a popular and very successful theatre, featuring prisoners who would later be name performers) than many other POW camps...and certainly nothing like the harsh conditions associated with the Concentration or Extermination camps.

To quote one source:

"It must be made clear that the German Luftwaffe [the German Air Force], who were responsible for Air Force prisoners of war, maintained a degree of professional respect for fellow flyers, and the general attitude of the camp security officers and guards should not be confused with the SS or Gestapo. The Luftwaffe treated the POWs well, despite an erratic and inconsistent supply of food.

Prisoners were handled quite fairly within the Geneva Convention, and the Kommandant, Oberst (Colonel) Friedrich-Wilhelm von Lindeiner-Wildau, was a professional and honourable soldier who won the respect of the senior prisoners."

Finally, virtually all the major engineering aspects in regards to the tunnels and the initial escape in the film are as they were actually acheived in the real escape.

It would behoove some to learn a little more actual history or do a little simple research before shooting from the hip with supposed "knowledge" of reality. THE GREAT ESCAPE certainly takes liberties in tone and character portrayal, but not in the key elements that are disparaged out of sneering ignorance.

BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI is also a great film, but took even greater liberties with the technical details of the events described than THE GREAT ESCAPE did....and offering up VON RYAN'S EXPRESS as a more realistic alternative is simply delusional and ridiculous.


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