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 overview:
Major Harry Cook
Halden Brevik / Olav Volda
Colonel Morgan Crawford
Focus Flaherty
Orville Fitzgerald


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>

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


Drama | History | War

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

18 September 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Colditz: Escape of the Birdmen  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


The film was loosely based on a true story. Allied prisoners-of-war held at Colditz Castle constructed a similar glider under the noses of their captors, but did not complete the aircraft until after D-Day. Rather than use the glider to escape, the prisoners determined to use it to coordinate their actions with Patton's forces. As it turned out, the German garrison surrendered to the Americans without firing a shot. See more »


Before the wing snaps on the model glider, a quick shot shows the plane to have wing struts. The model glider had none. See more »


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 »


References Hogan's Heroes (1965) See more »


Die Gedanken Sind Frei
Nineteenth Century German Folk Song
Sung by the Cast
Performed at the funeral of a slain prisoner of war
See more »

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User Reviews

I've Found MY People
7 May 2013 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

I don't know if I can trump the rest of you with my age but I first saw this movie on TV in 1975. (some of you probably weren't even born yet). Anyway, it came on TV again a year later, 1976 (hey, I can add). Since then, I've just been waiting and looking. And remember a good 20 of those years "waiting and looking" there was no such thing as an the Internet. I searched through EVERY video rental store I could find (we didn't know what a DVD or CD was back then). In fact when I started looking for this movie there was NO where to look because video machines hadn't been invented yet. So as a 10 year old I got my pencil and loose leaf paper and started writing TV stations to please play the movie. I was in Canada so I wrote to the 2 Stations in Canada and the 3 in America. But nothing. Now here it is AND I discover there are people from all over the world who love this movie too. I feel like a black person returning to Africa. I have found "my people". Of course, it's about time this movie came into it's own. you wouldn't believe the weird looks a 10 year old gets when a bunch of grown ups are discussing their favorite movie stars (Richard Burton, David Niven, Gregory Peck, Charleton Heston) and I slip by with my glass of Kool-Aid and say, "my favorite actor is Rene Auberjonois." You'd have thought I had a banana growing out of my head! (I actually wrote to Rene Auberjonois about this movie because it had so many titles it was making it difficult to look for. He wrote me back a lovely note AND sent me a photo which he wrote the name of the movie and my name on it as well. By then he was on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and most people knew who he was. That renewed my vigor to keep looking) But I think what those who haven't watched the movie and are reading these reviews should notice something important. Almost all of us gave this move a 9 or 10 stars. Personally I WANTED to give it 10 stars but that would mean "perfection" and I just can't hold to believe that there is anything this side of heaven that doesn't have at least ONE FLAW.

Which brings us to Doug McClure. HE AIN'T IT! They may make characters to spoof him on "The Simpsons" ("Hi. I'm Troy McClure"). But good old Doug redeemed his entire career of somewhat goofy movies with this one. Way to go Doug! And thanks to the rest of you who have reminded me that we are never alone. Just perhaps a little distant from those we belong to. Love Laura-Lee

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