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The McKenzie Break (1970)

PG | | Action, Drama, War | April 1971 (UK)
During WW2, German POWs in Britain plot to escape from their prison camp in Scotland.


Lamont Johnson


William W. Norton (screenplay) (as William Norton), Sidney Shelley (novel)

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1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Brian Keith ... Capt. Jack Connor
Helmut Griem ... Kapitän zur See Willi Schluetter
Ian Hendry ... Maj. Perry
Jack Watson ... Gen. Kerr
Patrick O'Connell Patrick O'Connell ... Sgt. Maj. Cox
Horst Janson ... Lt. Neuchl
Alexander Allerson ... Lt. Wolff
John Abineri ... Capt. Kranz
Constantine Gregory ... Lt. Hall (as Constantin De Goguel)
Tom Kempinski Tom Kempinski ... Lt. Schmidt
Eric Allan Eric Allan ... Lt. Hochbauer
Caroline Mortimer Caroline Mortimer ... A.T.S. Sgt. Bell
Mary Larkin ... Cpl. Jean Watt
Gregg Palmer ... Lt. Berger
Michael Sheard ... Ingenieur-Offizier Unger


In the closing days of World War II, German prisoners riot in a POW Camp in Scotland. Fearful of a mass escape attempt, the British Army sends in an unorthodox Irish Captain in hopes of discovering exactly what is going on. The Irishman at once comes into conflict with the senior prisoner, a U-Boat commander, and the two must match wits, knowing that only one will emerge victorious. Written by Anthony Hughes <husnock31@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"THE MCKENZIE BREAK" The Ultimate Escape Film See more »


Action | Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for violence, language and brief sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Ireland | UK


English | German

Release Date:

April 1971 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Escape See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This is one of the few World War II POW movies where the prisoners are not the Allies and are, in this case, Germans in a Scottish POW camp. Other rare examples include Japanese POWs in Australia in The Cowra Breakout (1984) and German POWs in Italy in "The 5th Day of Peace", aka "Crime of Defeat" [See: The Fifth Day of Peace (1970). See more »


The Jeep used is a civilian CJ 3B model, first introduced in 1953. See more »


[last lines]
Captain Jack Connor: Willi, looks like we're both in the shithouse.
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SYMPHONY NO.3 E-FLAT MAJOR, OP.55 -- 1st & 2nd Movements
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
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User Reviews

" You may be following orders, but which ones make murder acceptable "
30 August 2009 | by thinker1691See all my reviews

During the War years, many a soldier were given specific instructions concerning their duties. After the war, just as many came under the scrutiny of justice. The Nazis were grossly mistaken when those accused of atrocious war crimes against humanity sought the protection of obeying explicit or direct orders. In this film " The McKenzie Break " German navel officers in a P.O.W camp are given secret orders to help 28 submariners escape and return to duty. As such they begin causing an inordinate amount of trouble for the English guards, to the point that general Kerr (Jack Watson) is puzzled by their antics. Unable to fathom the reason, Captain Jack Connor, an intelligent officer (Brian Keith) {supurb acting} is given tactical command over the camp run by Major Perry (Ian Hendry) to ascertain the reason. While there, Connor engages in mind games with Captain Willy Schlueter (Helmut Griem) a German Submarine commander. Time is short as Schlueter must complete an underground tunnel, before Connors' amasses enough evidence to prosecute his adversary for murder or deciphers the secret codes in the letters he confiscated. When the escape is prematurely forced, both men struggle to complete their assignments. Although not on the caliber of The Great Escape, this movie nevertheless gives a stirring and dramatic performance to excite audiences and the cast renders a good account of themselves. A top notch film which has since become a military Classic. ****

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