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The Great Escape (1963)

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

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(book), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Top Rated Movies #125 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Robert Graf ...
Werner 'The Ferret'
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Hours ago... Minutes ago.... These men were behind barbed wire. See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

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Details

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| | | |

Release Date:

4 July 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran escape  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$12,100,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to John Sturges, the screenplay went through six writers and eleven versions, and was still a work in progress during the actual shooting. "I'm not proposing that's a good way to make a picture, but it was the right way to make this one," he later said. See more »

Goofs

When the tunnel collapsed on Willie, Danny went in and pulled him out by his feet. The guys outside the tunnel, pulling them both out by the ropes, pulled Willie out of the tunnel first. If Danny went into that narrow tunnel last, he'd be the first one out; -not Willie. See more »

Quotes

Bartlett: Not Colin. He'd be an appalling hazard to the whole escape. That must be my decision.
Hendley: You want to talk about hazards? Let talk about hazards. Lets talk about you. You're the biggest hazard we have. The Gestapo has you marked. No one has said you can't go.
Bartlett: That's true, and I have thought about the Gestapo. But if you're asking me how a far a commanding officer is allowed to go, or dare go, or should be permitted to play God, I can't answer you.
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Connections

Featured in One More Saturday Night (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

GREAT MOVIE: MORE HISTORICALLY ACCURATE THAN SOME REALIZE...
11 January 2004 | by See all my reviews

This is a great movie which much more historically accurate than it is often given credit for. So many who say otherwise are ill-informed and obviously don't know much about the actual history of that actual escape. The depiction of what happened to the recaptured prisoners in the movie of THE GREAT ESCAPE is reasonably accurate as detailed on the historyinfilm site...specifically on the "Reprisal" page; along with being detailed in the various published accounts.

Hitler ultimately calmed down after being reasoned with by Goering, Feldmarschall Keitel, Maj-Gen Graevenitz and Maj-Gen Westhoff, and dictated that more than half the prisoners be shot and cremated. So, as depicted in the film, several of those recaptured were not executed and were indeed returned to confinement. In fact, even those executed were not "shot on the spot" for the most part, but were actually executed later after being turned over to the Gestapo; most being shot while being allowed to relieve themselves, under the guise of "trying to escape".

Furthermore, there are many accounts as to how much more humane the environment was within the camp (which even had a popular and very successful theatre, featuring prisoners who would later be name performers) than many other POW camps...and certainly nothing like the harsh conditions associated with the Concentration or Extermination camps.

To quote one source:

"It must be made clear that the German Luftwaffe [the German Air Force], who were responsible for Air Force prisoners of war, maintained a degree of professional respect for fellow flyers, and the general attitude of the camp security officers and guards should not be confused with the SS or Gestapo. The Luftwaffe treated the POWs well, despite an erratic and inconsistent supply of food.

Prisoners were handled quite fairly within the Geneva Convention, and the Kommandant, Oberst (Colonel) Friedrich-Wilhelm von Lindeiner-Wildau, was a professional and honourable soldier who won the respect of the senior prisoners."

Finally, virtually all the major engineering aspects in regards to the tunnels and the initial escape in the film are as they were actually acheived in the real escape.

It would behoove some to learn a little more actual history or do a little simple research before shooting from the hip with supposed "knowledge" of reality. THE GREAT ESCAPE certainly takes liberties in tone and character portrayal, but not in the key elements that are disparaged out of sneering ignorance.

BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI is also a great film, but took even greater liberties with the technical details of the events described than THE GREAT ESCAPE did....and offering up VON RYAN'S EXPRESS as a more realistic alternative is simply delusional and ridiculous.


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