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The Great Escape (1963)

 -  Adventure | Drama | History  -  4 July 1963 (USA)
8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 121,497 users  
Reviews: 286 user | 99 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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Title: The Great Escape (1963)

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Top 250 #117 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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Hannes Messemer ...
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Angus Lennie ...
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Storyline

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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

put a fence in front of these men...and they'll climb it... See more »


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

4 July 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Great Escape  »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The actual escape from Stalag Luft III occurred on March 24, 1944 - which was Steve McQueen's 14th birthday. See more »

Goofs

When Roger meets the SBO for the first time, Roger is told that the prisoners wanted to "bring out the Welcoming Committee". However, Roger was specially delivered to the camp by a Gestapo/SS detachment. The SBO and other prisoners would have had no prior knowledge that Roger was arriving. Earlier on, MacDonald notices Bartlett arriving at the camp, and goes off to pass the word onto the other soldiers. Between when Bartlett is brought into Von Luger's office, and the time he goes to see Ramsey, this would have been enough time for a small, impromptu welcoming committee to have been formed. See more »

Quotes

Cavendish: [Hilts has just taken some boards out of all the beds and Denys walks in after singing] 5 golds rings, 4 calling birds, bloody singing, hi Hilts.
Hilts: Denys, wait...
Cavendish: 3 french hens, 2 turtle doves and a partridge, alley-oop!
[jumps on to bed and falls through all three]
Hilts: [sees that Denys has fallen through bed] Never mind.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Universal Groove (2007) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A genuine timeless classic.
28 December 2003 | by (Rugby,UK.) – See all my reviews

During World War Two the Germans build a new prison camp, Stalag Luft III, for the express purpose of housing many of their most troublesome captured Allied airmen. However, all this serves to do is to pool the resources of some of the most ingenious escape artists in captivity and fill them with a resolve to engineer a mass breakout from the camp.

Based largely on real events, this film has assumed classic status over the years and its easy to understand why. Quite simply, it excells in many departments. Director John Sturges was at the height of his creative powers and he keeps a firm grip on the proceedings. Although the film runs close to three hours it never feels sluggish, while at the same time winding up the tension gradually and developing the characters. The production design is first rate, to the point where Donald Pleasance (who had been a P.O.W.) felt quite intimidated by the vast set on his arrival. Daniel Fapp's beautiful photography shows this and the picturesque German locations off to full effect. Put these virtues together with a good script, inspired casting and a classic score by Elmer Bernstein, and you have an object lesson in how to create an intelligent and exciting big budget adventure film.

On the subject of the cast; Much is made of Steve McQueen's role. While I am a huge McQueen fan, I feel that some of the other performances are equal to, if not better than his. Richard Attenborough, James Garner, Donald Pleasance, Charles Bronson and Gordon Jackson are all excellent. Good too are James Coburn, James Donald, David McCallum and Hannes Messemer as the sympathetic Commandant.

This is one of those films that I can happily watch time and time again. In September of this year a new print was screened at the NFT in London as part of an 'Attenborough at 80' season. It was a pleasure to see this on the big screen at last. For the most part the print was in very good condition. The DVD was one of the first that I ever bought some three and a half years ago, and I watched its inevitable Christmas screening on BBC2 last night. I just never tire of it. In these days of brainless, poorly executed action fodder, its a joy to behold something that hits its targets so precisely.


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