Ryan, an American POW, leads his fellow prisoners on a dangerous escape from the Germans in Italy. Having seemingly made errors of judgment, Ryan has to win the support of the mainly British soldiers he is commanding.Written by
The most daring escape ever conceived. It begins at Pescara. It spreads into high adventure as they highjack their own prison train. It shoots past Rome... Florence... Bologna... It hightails into the Majola Pass with Messerschitts in hot pursuit... and makes a final frenzied lunge for Switzerland- and freedom! See more »
The author of the book, David Westheimer, was a navigator on a B-24 that was shot down over Italy in WWII and he was a POW in Stalag Luft III. See more »
During the attack on the train by the Messerschmitts, the prisoners on top are shooting at the aircraft with MP40s, a weapon that fired pistol rounds. As such, the 9mm rounds wouldn't have the range to even reach the aircraft, let alone damage them. However, the prisoners would have tried to fend the aircraft off with whatever weapons they had. See more »
The film credits and all promotion publicity still say "A Cinemascope Picture", and Alfred Newman's "extended" 20th Century-Fox fanfare is still heard on the soundtrack as the picture begins, but most of the film was actually shot in Panavision, at Frank Sinatra's insistence. See more »
When originally released theatrically in the UK, the BBFC made cuts to secure a 'U' rating. All cuts were waived in 1988 when the film was granted a 'PG' certificate for home video. See more »
From a slow start this build into an exciting if somewhat unrealistic war film. However, it was designed for entertainment and not to depict any remotely historical fact.
The cinematography and scenery look good and although no expert on trains, they look from the right period. The characters are not fleshed out but as this is an adventure film this lapse is not too important. Some of the main characters are also casualties by the end thus avoiding the usual Hollywood line from that period of everyone escaping without a scratch.
I'm not a big fan of Sinatra as an actor but he does well here depicting a flawed character who appears both likable and unlikeable. It is established early in the film that Col Ryan is not a career airman and has limited military experience and so it is not surprising that he makes some key mistakes although he does learn from them.
The supporting cast is good although with the exception of John Leyton far too old to have been on military service.
Not up with the very best WW2 films but well above the average.
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