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The Great Escape (1963)

Approved  |   |  Adventure, Drama, History  |  4 July 1963 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 150,968 users  
Reviews: 291 user | 105 critic

Allied P.O.W.s plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German camp during World War II.



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Top 250 Movies #119 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hannes Messemer ...
Robert Graf ...


Based on a true story, a group of allied escape artist-type prisoners-of-war (POW's) 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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| | |

Release Date:

4 July 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran escape  »

Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)|


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Some aspects of the escape remained classified during production and were not revealed until well after. The inclusion of chocolate, coffee and cigarettes in Red Cross packages is well documented, as is their use to bribe Nazi guards. Other materials useful for escaping had to be kept secret and were not included in the novel or screenplay. Also not revealed until many years later was the fact that the prisoners actually built a fourth tunnel called "George." See more »


When Hendley's stolen plane crashes the wings are clearly ripped completely off the fuselage. When the plane is next seen on fire the wings are still attached. See more »


Willie: This is the dirt from the compound.
Danny: This is from the tunnel.
[Mac takes a handful of tunnel dirt and sprinkles it onto the mound from the compound]
MacDonald: Wherever we put it, they're going to spot it a mile away.
Willie: Well, maybe we could put it under the huts. The dirt's dark there.
MacDonald: Nah. No, it's the first place the ferrets would look. I saw one measuring the height under a hut yesterday.
Willie: Well, maybe we could dry it out the same color.
Danny: We'll have fifty tons of it.
Willie: Well, I was just thinking out loud.
Bartlett: If you...
See more »


Referenced in Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing & Charm School (2005) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Great Escape
27 June 2001 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I saw this movie for the first time as a nine year old boy on a big screen in the Bronx. I'm now in my 40's. I have seen it many times since but not on the big screen. It was meant for the big screen! It's on my top five list along with The Sand Pebbles. It's a great movie about hope and freedom and man's responsibility to his fellow man. These men are all near saints; James Garner insisting on Donald Plesence making the escape, Charles Bronson fighting his claustrophobia. Steve McQueen is the star among the stars, not merely because of his motorcycle skills but for his attempt to save a life and for bringing the game of "off the wall" to the masses. :-)

38 of 57 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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