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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Charles Bronson, who portrays the chief tunneler, brought his own expertise and experiences to the set. He had been a coal miner before turning to acting, and gave director John Sturges advice on how to move the dirt. As a result of his work in the coal mines, Bronson suffered from claustrophobia, just as his character had. See more »
When Ives drops his cup and moves towards the fence, in the background Hilts turns and starts moving towards Ives. Camera cuts to Hilts and he turns and starts moving again. See more »
Roger's idea was to get back at the enemy the hardest way he could, mess up the works. From what we've heard here, I think he did exactly that.
Do you think it was worth the price?
Depends on your point of view, Hendley.
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Some TV versions edit the scene in which Ives is shot and killed for trying to escape over the fence. See more »
Credit should be given to the brilliant score by Elmer Bernstein. If you listen to it closely, it literally is a battle between the Allied Prisoners (flutes & woodwinds) and the Germans (tubas). The escape scenes with the little boat on the scenic german river is evocative of Wagner and his heroic Germanic Operas. The scenery of the German countryside and the Alps is breathtaking. I believe that the scriptwriters emphasized the heroism, humor, and character of the prisoners to make an uplifting statement of what is essentially a cruel and tragic story. As a child growing up in the seventies, our 7th grade glass was reading the Paul Brickhill book and we had the opportunity to meet a former (American) Stalag Luft III prisoner from that era. He had arrived at the camp after the Great Escape, but was placed on the monument detail for the 50 executed men. He said that few men seriously contemplated escape after this incident and the emphasis was on surviving the war and going home alive.
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