8.2/10
221,245
365 user 112 critic

The Great Escape (1963)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, History | 4 July 1963 (USA)
Trailer
2:42 | Trailer
Allied prisoners of war plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German camp during World War II.

Director:

John Sturges

Writers:

Paul Brickhill (book), James Clavell (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
2,191 ( 50)
Top Rated Movies #140 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve McQueen ... Hilts 'The Cooler King'
James Garner ... Hendley 'The Scrounger'
Richard Attenborough ... Bartlett 'Big X'
James Donald ... Ramsey 'The SBO'
Charles Bronson ... Danny 'Tunnel King'
Donald Pleasence ... Blythe 'The Forger'
James Coburn ... Sedgwick 'Manufacturer'
Hannes Messemer ... Von Luger 'The Kommandant'
David McCallum ... Ashley-Pitt 'Dispersal'
Gordon Jackson ... MacDonald 'Intelligence'
John Leyton ... Willie 'Tunnel King'
Angus Lennie ... Ives 'The Mole'
Nigel Stock ... Cavendish 'The Surveyor'
Robert Graf Robert Graf ... Werner 'The Ferret'
Jud Taylor ... Goff
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Storyline

Based on a true story, a group of allied escape artist-type prisoners-of-war 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 movie 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 planes, trains, and boats to get out of occupied Europe. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

From a barbed-wire camp to a barbed-wire country, they made... [The Great Escape] See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to David McCallum, the barbed wire into which Hilts (Steve McQueen) crashes near the end of the movie, which was made of rubber, was made by the cast and crew during their free time by tying small pieces of rubber around larger ones. See more »

Goofs

Group Captain Ramsey's bottom three service ribbons denote service during the first world war. (Correct order would be: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal). However, these three ribbons are worn backwards on his uniform throughout the film (Victory Medal, British War Medal, 1914-15 Star). See more »

Quotes

[the German camp commandant explains why so many incorrigible Allied prisoners were placed in the place Stalag]
Von Luger: We have in effect put all our rotten eggs in one basket. And we intend to watch this basket carefully.
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Alternate Versions

Some TV versions edit the scene in which Ives is shot and killed for trying to escape over the fence. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Spaced: Change (2001) See more »

User Reviews

 
Not just great, simply magnificent more like!
4 March 2008 | by hitchcockthelegendSee all my reviews

"Wait a minute, you aren't seriously suggesting that if I get thru the wire and case everything out there, and don't get picked up, to turn myself in and get thrown in the cooler for a couple of months so you can get the information you need"

Smart, witty and directed with adroit hands by John Sturges, The Great Escape is standing the test of time as a joyous multi cast family favourite. Based on the real accounts of allied soldiers escaping en mass from a German POW camp back in 1942, the film is involving from start to finish, due in the main to the wonderful array of characters on show. We follow them from the moment they arrive at the camp right through to the stunning climax, and it is with great joy I say that none of the cast lets the side down, they all do great work for the astute and undervalued Sturges. A number of great set pieces align with Elmer Bernstein's fabulous score to never let the blood settle, and in among the cheeky slices of humour is palpable tension to make this simply one of the best films of its type, in fact one of the best films ever.

Sturges and his writers, James Clavell & W.R. Burnett, adapt from the book written by Paul Brickhill, someone who speaks from experience having been one of the prisoners of super POW camp Stalag Luft III, which of course is what The Great Escape is born from. Sturges was fascinated by the story and after trying without fail for over a decade to get it onto the screen, he finally succeeded. The success three years earlier of his star ensemble Western, The Magnificent Seven, enabled Sturges to realise his vision, the result of which is still enthralling new generations with each passing year.

The cast is made up of notable thespians and iconic heroes. Steve McQueen (enticing the American audience in one feels), Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, James Donald, Donald Pleasance, James Coburn, James Garner, David McCallum, John Leyton and Gordon Jackson. Which of course is a pretty tidy roll call, but the input and impact of Hannes Messemer as the Camp Commandant, Colonel Von Luger should not be understated. His scenes have a real humanistic quality that shows a softer side of Germany to the one ruled by a certain despot (the finale here offering up the counter opposite of the war), the writers smartly, and rightly, not tarring a nation with the same old brush.

A wonderful involving movie that puts characteristic heart in bed with the action and suspense laden plot. 10/10


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | French | Russian | Spanish

Release Date:

4 July 1963 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Great Escape See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$227,940
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (Westrex Recording System)| Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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