7.0/10
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The Wooden Horse (1950)

True story of three British POWs and their attempt to escape from Nazi Germany.

Directors:

Jack Lee, Ian Dalrymple (uncredited)

Writer:

Eric Williams (screenplay adapted from his novel by)
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Leo Genn ... Peter Howard
David Tomlinson ... Phil Roe
Anthony Steel ... John Clinton
David Greene ... Nick Bennett
Peter Burton ... Nigel
Patrick Waddington ... Group Captain Wardley - Senior British Officer
Michael Goodliffe ... Robbie
Anthony Dawson ... Pomfret
Bryan Forbes ... Paul
Dan Cunningham Dan Cunningham ... David
Peter Finch ... Australian in Hospital
Philip Dale Philip Dale ... Bill White
Russell Waters Russell Waters ... 'Wings' Cameron
Ralph Ward Ralph Ward ... Adjutant
Franz Schafheitlin Franz Schafheitlin ... Camp Commandant
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Storyline

In a POW camp, the Nazis have placed the huts far from the boundary so that any escape tunnel would have to be a long one. One British officer has the idea of starting a daily gynmastics routine using a vaulting horse: they can place it near the boundary and start a tunnel from under it. He and two others do escape the camp by this means and plan to make for neutral Sweden. To do that, they'll not only have to move around without arousing any suspicions, but also find a stranger from a neutral or occupied country who'll be willing and able to help them. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Charged with high voltage excitement !

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German | Danish | French

Release Date:

7 September 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Calul de lemn See more »

Filming Locations:

Denmark See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The events on which the film is based took place at the same prisoner of war camp (Stalag Luft III) and at the same time as the events in the much better-known film of the same genre, The Great Escape (1963). The escape committee of prisoners that was planning the latter decided that other escape activity had to be going on at the same time so that life in the camp would appear normal to the Germans. It was the Wooden Horse tunnel that fell into this category. See more »

Goofs

Whilst the escape is in progress, there is a quick shot of a German guard near the compound fence. His rifle has a British pattern webbing sling; the upper brass buckle can be seen clearly. See more »

Quotes

[Talking to John Clinton about taking their time to do a good job properly]
Peter: Once upon a time there were two bulls, an old bull and a young bull. One day the young bull said to the old bull, "The farmer's left the gate open, there are some cows in that field. Let's dash down and get a couple!" "Oh no" said the old bull, "let's stroll down and get the lot."
[John laughs]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet: Au Revoir: Part 2 (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphony No. 6 in F major,
Pastoral", Op. 68" (uncredited)
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Wooden Horse (Jack Lee and, uncredited, Ian Dalrymple, 1950) ***
26 January 2009 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

Excellent P.O.W. adventure, adapted by Eric Williams from his own book (a paperback copy of which forms part of my father's library) that was inspired by true events; it may well be the first film of its kind and, therefore, has a lot to answer for – not just similarly stiff-upper-lipped examples such as ALBERT, R.N. (1953; which I'll be watching presently), THE COLDITZ STORY (1955) and DANGER WITHIN (1959) but higher-profile releases from the other side of the Atlantic, namely STALAG 17 (1953) and THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963). This, then, sets the basis pretty solidly: British soldiers interned in a German camp devise an ingenious plan of escape, borrowing a page from Greek legend – burrowing from under a vaulting horse used during physical exercise and in full view of their captors! Actually, the film is neatly split into two halves: the first deals with the slow process of digging the tunnel, culminating in the escape itself, while the latter stages depict their fortunes outside the camp as they try to make it to neutral Sweden. Typically of these British films, the cast showcases several established (Leo Genn), current (Anthony Steel) and up-and-coming (Peter Finch, David Tomlinson and Bill Travers) stars, to say nothing of innumerable reliable character actors (Anthony Dawson, Bryan Forbes, Michael Goodliffe and Walter Gotell). The three leads/escapees are Genn, Steel and Tomlinson: while the first two stick together, the latter goes his own way – only to run into the others on reaching safety. As can be expected, the narrative involves plenty of suspense and excitement; as with most male-centered P.O.W. sagas, too, female interest is kept to the barest minimum. Director Lee didn't have a lengthy career – with this and the somewhat similar (albeit with a change of both setting and viewpoint) A TOWN LIKE ALICE (1956) his most noteworthy achievements – but he certainly milked every gripping situation in this case (even if, reportedly, delays in filming saw Lee quitting his post prematurely…leaving producer Ian Dalrymple with the task of tying up loose ends!). Anyway, worth special mention is the exquisite lighting (particularly during night-time sequences) throughout.


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