The Coolest Guy Movie Ever: Return to the Scene of The Great Escape (2018) Poster

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7/10
For Film Buffs
larrys326 January 2019
This documentary, which I picked up at my local library, runs less than 1 hour in length and, except when German is spoken, has no subtitles ( but I was able to access them through my remote closed caption option).

A group of film historians, filmmakers, and devoted fans travel to Bavaria, Germany to trace some of the key locations for the shooting of the iconic WWll movie "The Great Escape", with its incredible star-studded cast. Amazingly, many of the buildings and signposts are still there to guide director Christophe Espenan and this group, as they're able to pinpoint sometimes in minute details the exact scene locations of the film. The actual movie footage is cleverly interspersed with today's landscape to give the viewer a real sense of what happened there.

Being a movie buff, I found this doc quite interesting and I would say its appeal will be for fellow movie buffs or those viewers who really liked this 1963 classic. There are many spoilers here as to what happened to many of the characters in their escape attempts from a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp, so if you haven't seen this movie yet I would suggest you see the actual film first and then the documentary. I was inspired enough to seek out the original film and see it again.

I'm not sure what the 4.2 imdb rating is all about, but I would rate this doc quite higher especially for those that have great interest in the silver screen.
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2/10
At least it's short
dtdenver-987-92554616 May 2019
I thought this would be about making the Great Escape - behind the scenes, cast interactions, challenges of making a Bad Nazi movie in Germany less than a generation after Hitler. I expected more than fanboys finding filming locations in Germany. It briefly touched on some of those things but mostly it was guys standing alongside a road, pointing, and exclaiming, "Look! That mountain is STILL THERE! This is definitely the place!"
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5/10
inspires to watch the actual movie
ferguson-624 August 2018
Greetings again from the darkness. As one who watches more than 200 movies each year, I absolutely understand how someone could be extraordinarily passionate about a particular film ... even to the point of bordering on obsession. First time director Christophe Espenan clearly feels that way about THE GREAT ESCAPE. In fact, his sentiment is so strong for the film that he assembled a team and took off to Bavaria in order to re-trace the filming locations some 50 years after John Sturges and his all-star cast were there.

The documentary kicks off with the modern day team trekking through a heavily wooded area. We learn they are searching for the exact location of the movie's prison camp. It was built on a studio backlot, and background research reveals that trees had to be cleared to construct the prison, and the promise was made to re-plant twice as many trees once production ended. In the five decades since, the trees have flourished into what could now be described as a forest ... with no signs of the prison camp that was part of cinematic history. So what should have been a highlight of Mr. Espenan's movie, turns into something akin to Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone's vault.

Based on Paul Brickhill's book, the iconic 1962 film starred Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, David McCallum, and Gordon Jackson. It surely belongs on any list of 'cool guy' movies, along with THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (released two years prior). Both films were directed by Mr. Sturges and feature terrific and memorable scores from the great Elmer Bernstein.

Archival footage of interviews from James Coburn and James Garner are included, as well as numerous photos and clips from the film itself. Mr. Espenan carries an album of screenshots from the film and does a nice job of matching up specific locations and scenes as he and the team walk through the towns. Local Hotel Alpina is featured as the place where much of the cast and crew stayed during filming, and the hotel staff fondly remembers when their paths crossed. Lawrence Montaigne serves as narrator, and since he also had a small part in the movie, his insight is appreciated ... though he was better known for this frequent TV series appearances, before passing away in 2017.

A substantial portion of the film's 55 minute run time is devoted to the motorcycle stunts of Steve McQueen. However, on the whole, the film does not feel stretched, but rather just a bit too lightweight for today's documentary standards. It comes across as more of a tribute or fanboy whim than a "making of" or "behind-the-scenes" project delivering insight or detail. It did succeed in getting me to add THE GREAT ESCAPE near the top of my list for classic films to revisit ... it's one I've never reviewed, and definitely should.
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4/10
Buy The Mobie Its Better
Easygoer1016 February 2020
The "making of" disc which comes with "The "Great Rscape" has all this and more. A much better idea is to buy 2 films: "I Am Steve McQueen" (2014) and "Junior Bonner" (1972). The former is a documentary; the best around. The latter is a Sam Peckinpah film which (due to poor marketing) did bit do well at the box office. Hiwever, it is absolutely brilliant. Also, it comes with at least 4 or 5 hours if extras. This film is mediocre compared to those. I own all of McQueen's films, plus his great TV series "Wanted: Dead or Alive" (1958-1961), which includes all 94 episodes plus hours of extras. He was the most iconic film actor of the 20th Century. You see guys take their shirts off today and they look ridiculous. McQueen had it all: Passion, Skill, Looks, Menace, Vulnerability. The whole package. As his former wife Ali MacGraw said: "Every woman wanted to sleep with him, every man wanted to be like him and every kid wanted to be mentored by him". That says it all. Watch his films and the extras that come on the discs. Its way better than this.
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7/10
Brings back memories
kaper-2579110 March 2020
This was a good overview of the movie production and its filming locations for one of my all time favorite films. I enjoyed seeing the location and beautiful landscape details of the set where it was filmed, a region in Bavaria where I visited a couple of years ago (but I did not know of the movie setting at the time).

But I was a little disappointed that little or no mention was made of the actual prison camp location at Stalag Luft III near Zagan, in Poland. I also visited there a couple of years ago, were there is a reproduction prison barracks and a museum portraying the actual escape event, including the actual tunnels and WWII memorabilia from the camp. The local people and the museum staff are dedicated to the memory of Steve McQueen and the entire movie cast, whom they seem to genuinely love. Well worth the trip.
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