After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.
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 <email@example.com>
Steve McQueen's character Hilts was based on amalgamation of several characters, including Major Dave Jones, a flight commander during Doolittle's Raid who made it to Europe and was shot down and captured and Colonel Jerry Sage, who was an OSS agent in the North African desert when he was captured. Col. Sage was able to don a flight jacket and pass as a flier otherwise he would have been executed as a spy. Another inspiration was probably Sqn Ldr Eric Foster who escaped no less than seven times from German prisoner-of-war camps. See more »
As the rowboat escapees, the "Tunnel Kings," near the end of their journey in a harbor, what appear to be container cranes can be seen in the background as they approach the ship and clamber onto the gangway, on both sides of the large vessel. Containerization did not begin until the mid 1950's and containership cranes were unknown in the 1940's. See more »
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. :-)
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