During World War II, American soldier Harry Cook is sent to Norway to aid in the defection of a scientist working on the atomic bomb for the Germans. Before they can escape Europe, they are... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
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Major Harry Cook
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Halden Brevik / Olav Volda
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Schiller
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Tanker
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Colonel Morgan Crawford
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Focus Flaherty
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Sparrow
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Davies
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Donnelly
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Orville Fitzgerald
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Storyline

During World War II, American soldier Harry Cook is sent to Norway to aid in the defection of a scientist working on the atomic bomb for the Germans. Before they can escape Europe, they are captured and sent to a POW prison camp in a high alpine castle on the German-Swiss border. Cook must find a way to escape with the scientist before the Gestapo discover the Norwegian's true identity. Cook convinces the other prisoners to build a two person glider that can fly to Switzerland. The race is on to complete the glider before the German guards discover the plane, and the Gestapo catch up with Cook and the scientist. Written by Jeff Popp <jeff.popp@attws.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They used to boast there were only two ways to escape from Hitler's Beckstadt prison... to die...or to sprout wings

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

18 September 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Colditz: Escape of the Birdmen  »

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(Technicolor)
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Did You Know?

Trivia

All of the main prisoner characters have last names that begin with the letters "A" through "D" so that they could be called quickly during roll call scenes. See more »

Goofs

In the opening scene of the film, Cook sees his contact and a boat on the opposite side of the river. Cook then meets the contact without ever crossing the river. See more »

Quotes

Schiller: Major, I'm afraid we are both in a great deal of trouble.
Cook: Why don't you break out the scotch first? My leg is killing me!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Chicken Run (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Die Gedanken Sind Frei
(uncredited)
Nineteenth Century German Folk Song
Sung by the Cast
Performed at the funeral of a slain prisoner of war
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User Reviews

Historical perspective
18 January 1999 | by (Modena, New York, USA) – See all my reviews

This movie's not bad for a TV movie, but it's interesting to note it's historical basis. Colditz Castle was 'Supermax'; the German repository for Allied 'Escape Experts'. Every prisoner in residence had at least one close-to-successful escape attempt from another facility under his belt.

Colditz had the distinction of being the only German POW camp where the guards outnumbered the prisoners. Even so, successful escapes were made.

The most daring plan involved the building of the glider in this movie.

It was actually built, but never used. They were ready to go a month or two before the end of the war, but all prisoners were ordered through the intelligence network by London to sit tight because the Germans had begun shooting escapees. The Colditz gang decided to follow their orders and save the glider to be used in case the Germans starting murdering prisoners and a quick, sure way was needed to get someone 'over the wire' to alert the oncoming Allied forces.

The camp was liberated without incident and the glider was shown around for a few weeks as a morale booster to repatriates of other camps. It was then boosted back up into the attic, but disappeared over the winter of 1945-46; probably destroyed by Russian officers billetted there and used as firewood against the unusually severe winter.

For more info read P.R. Reid's "ESCAPE FROM COLDITZ".


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