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Good Look at the McQueen Character

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
27 January 2012

Real Virgil Hilts, The: A Man Called Jones (2002)

*** (out of 4)

James Coburn briefly narrates this entertaining interview with Dave Jones, the man who became known as the "Real Virgil Hilts" who of course was the character played by Steve McQueen in THE GREAT ESCAPE. Jones talks about his early career and how he ended up in the war, which included not only the known stuff dealing with the POW escape but also his involvement in the Doolittle Raid. According to what Coburn says, director John Sturges always wanted to show that the McQueen character was a real person because the American in the cast always caused some controversy because the person wasn't really involved in the escape. Jones comes off quite pleasant here as he talks about his life and then what part he had in the escape. The truth is that he was removed before the escape actually took place but it's interesting seeing what bits and pieces of the story he was involved in. This includes the bit where the walls were removed so that they could hide items behind them. Fans of the film or the real adventure will certainly want to check this out.

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What an amazing life!

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
30 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This short film is one of MANY documentaries included on the 2-Disc Collector's Edition DVD for "The Great Escape". It's one of the best bonus discs you can find, and it's chock full of TONS of background information.

"A Man Called Jones" was fittingly narrated by James Coburn--fitting since Coburn was one of the stars of "The Great Escape". However, most of the film simply consists of David M. Jones discussing his amazing career--including some of which was the inspiration for Steve McQueen's role in "The Great Escape". However, whether or not he was the inspiration, the film is well worth seeing because Jones' life was freaking amazing! Here is a brief summary: He was one of the folks involved in the famed Doolittle Raid. He was later captured and sent to Stalag Luft III (the one from the film) and worked on the famed tunnel. HOWEVER, he and the other Americans were transferred to a camp next door just before the escape. Once the war ended, he remained in the service--flying jets, testing B-58s, working with NASA on the Apollo program and retiring a two-star general! Some career, huh? And, the makings for a VERY interesting and inspiring little film. Well worth seeing and I wish they made more documentaries like this.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Interesting look at the man behind Virgil Hilts.

Author: Michael DeZubiria (wppispam2013@gmail.com) from Luoyang, China
5 May 2005

One of the things you'll learn from watching the many wonderful documentaries on the Bonus Features disc of The Great Escape is that lots of men were distilled down into the few lead characters in the movie, mostly because there were hundreds of men involved and it would have been impossible to put them all in the movie, for obvious reasons. This short documentary also goes into some detail about things that were changed for the movie, but it concentrates on the man who provided the inspiration for the character of Virgil Hilts. Like all of the documentaries on this disc, I highly recommend this one. The escape from that prison was truly an astounding accomplishment, which is an odd statement since only three of the 76 men who escaped made it to freedom, and 50 of them were gunned down in cold blood once captured. But the story is truly one that was meant to be told and retold, and any insights into the making of the movie or the truth of what happened is definitely worth checking out.

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