Great Escape
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Product Description

The Great Escape image of Steve McQueen (as "The Cooler King") astride his motorcycle has entered silver-screen iconography, alongside Brando on his bike from The Wild One. Based on a true story about a group of POWs who mount a daring breakout from a supposedly inescapable Nazi prison camp, this rousing and suspenseful WWII epic features an all-star cast, including James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, and David McCallum. --Jim Emerson

Customer Reviews:

  • Bootcamp for escape artists
    THE GREAT ESCAPE is a three-hour long epic based on a true story about the most notorious group of escape artists held as POWs in WWII. Malice, determination, and loyalty are brought to fruition in the process. The goal in placing the most troublesome prisoners in one camp was to provide the strictest security. However, the Germans unwittingly pooled the best resources together for an attempt at the largest escape in prison history.

    Though the DVD cover prominently portrays a defiant Steve McQueen, THE GREAT ESCAPE hails an all-star cast of scroungers, surveyors, manufacturers, forgers, tunnelers, and organizers. During three hours of drama, with bits of humor, sorrow, and genius, find out how many of 250 prisoners succeed in escaping a maximum security POW camp.

    I played this DVD on my 6:9 aspect ratio 23" computer monitor. When viewing most 16:9 widescreen movies, black bars of less than an inch appear top and bottom. The ratio of THE GREAT ESCAPE is 2.35:1 (more than twice as wide as it is high) -- letterbox. Instead of filling the screen from left to right with increased top and bottom bands, the entire tiny image was framed in large black margins. I had to zoom in to see the picture -- cropping out a significant portion. Under such magnification the degraded film quality was evident. Which is your viewing pleasure -- postage stamp or grainy picture?

    Personal preferences vary. This is why these reviews are so helpful; each offers insight from a different perspective. THE GREAT ESCAPE begins with the comedic tone of MASH (which is good) and escalates to moments of gory bloodshed. In this setting, the violence was unanticipated and diminished my enjoyment of the film. Because of such scenes, it is not recommended for young audiences. The fuzzy picture quality was a major disappointment that also reduced my rating.

    PERSONAL RATINGS:
    -Acting: 4
    -Story: 4
    -DVD quality: 2.5
    -Average rating: 3.4

    Movie quote: "Why didn't anyone think of that before? It's so stupid, it's positively brilliant!"...more info
  • THE ULTIMATE ANGLO/AMERICAN WORLD WAR 2 BUDDY FILM
    IN A NUTSHELL: #57 ON THE INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE'S BEST FILM LIST!

    The fictionalized story of a daring and costly mass escape from a select German stalag by the allies' largest mass of escape artists. Plus, Elmer Bernstein's musical score does emotionally, for "The Great Escape", exactly what his score did for "The Magnificient Seven", added a real chill down one's spine in a very good way.

    WHAT IT IS:

    The men on both sides of the war have their stories eloquently told by action more than words which, of course, is the best way to tell it. We see Brittish organization and planning augmented by American ingenuity and daring, pitted against the awesome power of Germany's Gestapo, S.S. and Luftwaffe.

    PERSONAL ANECDOTE:

    I first saw this film while away at summer camp in August 1964. I have seen it at least 50 times since, but I can clearly recall the very strong emotions and tragic-but-upbeat mood that the film powerfully delivered to me on that warm August evening 41 years ago and each and every time I have seen it since.

    YES THIS IS A BUDDY FILM OF A SORT: [** warning plot spoilers included **]

    Though the English officers had not meet the Americans and vice versa, they were to become, over the course of their incarceration, rather fond of one another. This fondness was played up and highlighted in the film via two close relationships. American Captain Hilts, "The Cooler King" [Steve McQueen], took Scottish Flying Officer Ives, "The Mole" [Angus Lennie], under his wing from the get-go. Hilts, without reservation, adopted a kind of surrogate, big brother relationship with Ives which was to be both touching and tragic. Hendley, "The Scrounger" [James Garner], adopted Blythe, "The Forger" [Donald Pleasance], in what was to become an equally touching and tragic friendship.

    OF COURSE THE PLOT THICKENS:

    The worst escape risks are all dumped into this Stalag for as the German Kommandant, Colonel von Lugar, has told the Brittish Group Captain, "we have put all of our rotten apples in one basket, and we intend to watch that basket very closely". Upon hearing this from Group Captain Ramsey, Big X [Richard Attenborough] comes back with, "there's madness in their method." From that point on we see an evolution from random pointless escape attempts, to the planning, and execution of, "The Great Escape" and the "X" organization.

    THE CAST AND PRODUCTION TEAM:

    Steve McQueen - "Cooler King" Hilts
    James Garner - "The Scrounger" Hendley
    Richard Attenborough - "Big X" Bartlett
    James Donald - Senior Officer Ramsey
    Charles Bronson - Danny Velinski
    James Coburn - "The Manufacturer" Sedgwick
    David McCallum Jr. - Ashley-Pitt "Dispersal"
    Donald Pleasence - "The Forger" Blythe
    Gordon Jackson - MacDonald "Intelligence"
    John Leyton - Willie "Tunnel King"
    Angus Lennie - "The Mole" Ives
    Nigel Stock - Cavendish "The Surveyor"
    Jud Taylor - Goff
    William Russell - Sorren
    Robert Desmond - "The Tailor" Griffith
    Tom Adams - Nimmo
    Lawrence Montaigne - Haynes
    Hannes Messemer - Von Lugar "The Kommandant"
    Robert Graf - Werner "The Ferret"

    ----- PRODUCTION:

    John Sturges - Director / Producer
    Paul Brickhill - Book Author
    W.R. Burnett - Screenwriter
    James Clavell - Screenwriter
    Daniel L. Fapp - Cinematographer
    Elmer Bernstein - Composer (Music Score)
    Ferris Webster - Editor [ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION - BEST EDITING]

    ----- AWARDS

    Best Editing (nom) Ferris Webster 1963 Academy
    Best Picture - Drama (nom) 1963 Golden Globe
    Best Picture (nom) 1963 National Board of Review

    AN EXCELLENT COMPANION TO THIS FILM:

    See "Nova's: The Great Escape" which is a PBS production and will fill you in on the facts of the factual great escape so that you can better enjoy this fictionalized account.

    ABOUT THE DVD:

    VERY CLEAN ULTRA WIDESCREEN (LETTERBOX) TRANSFER

    DVD Features:

    Available Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 2.0)

    -----DOCUMENTARY MAKES DVD AN EXTREMELY GOOD VALUE

    24-minute, in-depth documentary on the making of "The Great Escape". I wish it were longer, but it is quite good, covering the production and historical side of the film somewhat and Steve McQueen's famous Motorcycle chase. Also, James Garner and James Coburn tell us about Steve McQueen's struggle to make the part of "Hiltz" just right from his standpoint. "A hero who doesn't do anything heroic" was the way they put it. Frankly, it is hard to believe there was so wide a variety of excellent material in the 24 minute documentary. ...more info
  • Great Movie
    This is a great movie!!!!


    You get so much info and have fun at the same time.

    You learn about the life style, how the camp was set up, the german line of command, how the escape was planned, much more!!!


    In my opinion this is a great movie - the only thing that would make it better is if it was on Blu-Ray!!!...more info
  • One of the best ever
    John Sturges career contained many extraordinary movies: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, HOUR OF THE GUN, BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK, et al. None however have captured the imaginations of generations of movie lovers as THE GREAT ESCAPE. Filmed on location in Germany, it is reasonably faithful to actual events and the Paul Brickhill book, adapted by W.R. Burnett (LITTLE CAESAR, THE ASPHALT JUNGLE) and James Clavell (TAI PAN, SHOGUN, NOBLE HOUSE). Some characters are composites of different men but the escape itself is true to life. The motorcyle chase (one of the best chases in movie history) is a total fabrication but works wonderfully with Steve McQueen (the actual fence jump was done by his friend Bud Ekins). A terrific cast that also includes James Garner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, David McCallum, Donald Pleasance, Richard Attenborough, Gordon Jackson, Tom Adams and a host of others. Special features include several documentaries -- based on an A&E feature narrated by Burt Reynolds -- interviews with the real men from the event and others. ...more info
  • What more can one say? It's a classic!
    This movie is so good, all around, that you can't praise it enough. The talent both before and behind the camera is phenomenal, and elevate the film to the top rank of film classics. When you think of '60s films, certain titles pop into your head. Things like "The Magnificent Seven,""Breakfast at Tiffany's," the Bond films, "The Longest Day," "Lawrence of Arabia," "Doctor Zhivago," the Pink Panthers, "Bullitt," "Planet of the Apes," "Easy Rider," etc., etc. Films that kind of sum up the mood of the decade. Particularly for the early, pre-Beatles sixties, "The Great Escape" holds a high position. Everything about it is just so right, and so good, that you can't stop watching it. It's one of those films that you can catch while channel surfing, and you tell yourself you'll just watch it for a few minutes, and suddenly, it's three hours later. My experience, anyway.

    Much has been said about the film, about the actors, and about what it did for their careers. I guess it boosted many of them to superstar status. Particularly McQueen. With that iconic motorcycle chase, how could it do anything but? While the film is a little fuzzy in the historical accuracy department- it was largely a British affair, as the Americans had been transferred elsewhere- I imagine it captures the essence of that POW experience. Much like "Bridge on the River Kwai," which also plays fast and loose with the facts, but still retains the truth of the experience. But truth really can be stranger than fiction, and you read real-life accounts of the war, and there were some pretty colorful characters then. As with so many other films made shortly after an historical event, there is a topicality about "The Great Escape." Just about everyone involved with it was really in the war, or was old enough at the time to understand what it was all about. Donald Pleasance, for example, had been a real POW, and I believe shared his insights with the staff on the film. And the early sixties wasn't that far removed from the war- much closer to it than the film itself is to us now. I don't think a 2000s version would be quite as immediate in that way. And anyway, what stars could do those roles now? There isn't anyone who could come close to McQueen and company. And there would probably be the temptation to fake a lot of it with CGI. There's nothing like the real deal, as far as I can see.

    Anyway, five stars aren't enough. But regardless of various "Best films" lists and polls, this one still ranks way up there. If the sign of a good film is that you can't stop watching it, because it is so good, than it is at the top....more info
  • Surprisingly good
    I ordered this for my dad's birthday, thinking it would be something he would like and something that I would have no interest in. My brother watched it with him, and then told me that it was really good and that I should watch it.
    So I did.
    I was very pleasantly surprised - I am not into war-type, adrenaline-laden, "guy" movies, but, even though this could easily fit into any of those categories, I still found it very enjoyable!
    Suspense, excitement and drama are balanced with enough character development and ordinary "human moments" to make a very well-made, well-acted movie with memorable characters, touching moments, Steve McQueen's unforgettable motorcycle chase, and, of course, The Great Escape!
    Highly recommended for anyone who likes good movies, genre notwithstanding....more info
  • A STORY ABOUT HOPE AND THE VALUE OF FRIENDSHIP ESPECIALLY DURING PERIODS OF GREAT STRESS
    SUMMARY: SOMEHOW A TRAGIC TALE THAT MAINTAINS AN UPBEAT & HOPEFUL TONE

    The real-life, though fictionalized story, of a daring and costly mass escape from a select German stalag by the allies' largest mass of escape artists. Plus, Elmer Bernstein's musical score does emotionally, for "The Great Escape", exactly what his score did for "The Magnificient Seven", added a real chill down one's spine in a very good way.

    THE GREAT ESCAPE IS A STORY WELL TOLD ---

    The men on both sides of the war have their stories eloquently told by action more than words which, of course, is the best way to tell it. We see Brittish organization and planning augmented by American ingenuity and daring, pitted against the awesome power of Germany's Gestapo, S.S. and Luftwaffe.

    THE FIRST TIME I SAW THE GREAT ESCAPE WAS IN 1964 ---

    I first saw this film while away at summer camp in August 1964. I have seen it at least 50 times since, but I can clearly recall the very strong emotions and tragic-but-upbeat mood that the film powerfully delivered to me on that warm August evening 41 years ago and each and every time I have seen it since.

    IS THIS A BUDDY FILM?: [-- PLOT SPOILERS BELOW --]

    Though the English officers had not meet the Americans and vice versa, they were to become, over the course of their incarceration, rather fond of one another. This fondness was played up and highlighted in the film via two close relationships. American Captain Hilts, "The Cooler King" [Steve McQueen], took Scottish Flying Officer Ives, "The Mole" [Angus Lennie], under his wing from the get-go. Hilts, without reservation, adopted a kind of surrogate, big brother relationship with Ives which was to be both touching and tragic. Hendley, "The Scrounger" [James Garner], adopted Blythe, "The Forger" [Donald Pleasance], in what was to become an equally touching and tragic friendship.

    YOU DIDN'T THINK THIS WAS GOING TO BE EASY -- DID YOU?

    The worst escape risks are all dumped into this Stalag for as the German Kommandant, Colonel von Lugar, has told the Brittish Group Captain, "we have put all of our rotten apples in one basket, and we intend to watch that basket very closely". Upon hearing this from Group Captain Ramsey, Big X [Richard Attenborough] comes back with, "there's madness in their method." From that point on we see an evolution from random pointless escape attempts, to the planning, and execution of, "The Great Escape" and the "X" organization.

    -----*- THE CAST --*

    Steve McQueen - "Cooler King" Hilts
    James Garner - "The Scrounger" Hendley
    Richard Attenborough - "Big X" Bartlett
    James Donald - Senior Officer Ramsey
    Charles Bronson - Danny Velinski
    James Coburn - "The Manufacturer" Sedgwick
    David McCallum Jr. - Ashley-Pitt "Dispersal"
    Donald Pleasence - "The Forger" Blythe
    Gordon Jackson - MacDonald "Intelligence"
    John Leyton - Willie "Tunnel King"
    Angus Lennie - "The Mole" Ives
    Nigel Stock - Cavendish "The Surveyor"
    Jud Taylor - Goff
    William Russell - Sorren
    Robert Desmond - "The Tailor" Griffith
    Tom Adams - Nimmo
    Lawrence Montaigne - Haynes
    Hannes Messemer - Von Lugar "The Kommandant"
    Robert Graf - Werner "The Ferret"

    -----*- PRODUCTION CREW -*

    John Sturges - Director / Producer
    Paul Brickhill - Book Author
    W.R. Burnett - Screenwriter
    James Clavell - Screenwriter
    Daniel L. Fapp - Cinematographer
    Elmer Bernstein - Composer (Music Score)
    Ferris Webster - Editor [ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION - BEST EDITING]

    ----- MAJOR AWARDS

    Best Editing (nom) Ferris Webster 1963 Academy
    Best Picture - Drama (nom) 1963 Golden Globe
    Best Picture (nom) 1963 National Board of Review

    IF YOU LIKED THIS FILM CONSIDER SEEING --

    See "Nova's: The Great Escape" which is a PBS production and will fill you in on the facts of the factual great escape so that you can better enjoy this fictionalized account.

    ABOUT THE DVD --

    -* WIDESCREEN (LETTERBOX) FORMAT - EXCELLENT TRANSFER THROUGHOUT FILM

    DVD Features:

    Available Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 2.0)

    -----*- CONCISE BUT INFORMATIVE DOCUMENTARY MAKES DVD A GREAT VALUE --

    24-minute, in-depth documentary on the making of "The Great Escape". I wish it were longer, but it is quite good, covering the production and historical side of the film somewhat and Steve McQueen's famous Motorcycle chase. Also, James Garner and James Coburn tell us about Steve McQueen's struggle to make the part of "Hiltz" just right from his standpoint. "A hero who doesn't do anything heroic" was the way they put it. Frankly, it is hard to believe there was so wide a variety of excellent material in the 24 minute documentary.

    LAST THOUGHTS ABOUT THE GREAT ESCAPE -- A FILM WITHOUT WOMEN!?

    This is a film I never get tired of, filled with very sympathetic actors that despite their tragedy transmit hope and good-will. It does seem rather odd that a film of this scale has no speaking female actors. Then again how many women do male prisoners expect to meet in a German prison camp?

    ...more info
  • Over rated ..........
    Ah geeze ..... For starters, the German officers acted more like a bunch of pissed off hair dressers on the rag, rather than cold blooded Nazis. The prisoners also seem to be a bit openly blatant in their attitude towards the Germans as they taunt the authority in charge. In a way the story is a borderline comedy. My father had spent time in in a prison camp in World War II, and in real life if anybody acted this way towards their captors believe me they would have been dissected and executed, in that order. The other part I'll never figure out is why Steve McQueen gets top billing in this flick. Most likely this was some kind of deal his agent struck with the producers. He only had a supporting role, and his acting is adequate at best. It's strange that the movie has a reputation that precedes itself. For quite some time all I heard was that this was Steve McQueen's classic performance that launched his image, yadda yadda yadda so in fact I liked the picture before I saw it, then I saw it. I didn't realize that all you needed to be the King of Cool is to look good on a motorcycle. I'm not saying he did a bad job in this movie, but his contribution is hyped waaay too much. But if you are a die hard McQueen fan, then ANYTHING he does is always going to outshine anything else, as opposed to keeping things in proper perspective. If there is anything good to state is that I think that The Great Escape is worth having in your DVD collection because it is afterall, a GUY flick, which is rare these days in the World of feminist dominated entertainment crap....more info
  • Fine Film, a nice DVD bonus
    As a child, this seemed like it was everyone's favorite WWII prisoner of war movie (or movie, period) for it's great fun and action. For many of us, sons and daughters of the generation that fought this war, this was an entertaining introduction into the heroics that many men dared. This has a great cast, with Steve McQueen in a roll that helped define "cool".

    Perhaps the only drawback to this movie is that it makes being in this POW camp an otherwise enjoyable experience. As an adult, it makes you wonder why they didn't just "sit out the war". That's because it really wasn't that pleasant.

    As a kid, this was one of my favorite movies. As an adult, I still give it 4 stars, but WWII POW movies are very strong, and I can think of one that is clearly better, and a couple that are at least as good, and probably a bit more realistic about the POWs trying to survive day to day.

    This is a very good DVD value, with a nice little addition that was added for the 30 year anniversary of the movie's release, including some actors that are now gone....more info
  • Makes Yer Proud To be British!
    As A Brit,I fully appreciate that this is an American film, but people in the UK have always seen it as "our movie", mainly because of the original true story I suppose. That's not surprising, as this is such an exhilarating stirring and inspiring film, watching it would make even the most cynical person proud to be British.(watching it as a kid made me want to join the RAF when I grew up!) Such a great cast - Steve McQueen obviously steals the show, but my favorite performance is Donald Pleasance as Colin, and his deeply moving portrayal of a man going blind. And so many great classic scenes! My favourites are Gordon Jackson forgetting to say "danke" instead of "thanks" before he boards the bus, Charles Bronson mentally cracking up when the tunnel collapses on him, David McCallum's heroic death on the railway track after saving Richard Attenborough from the S.S., Donald Pleasance doing the "pin-trick" to prove he can still see, the shocking final fate of The 50 - the list is endless. I can watch this film a kazillion times and never tire of how great it is. If you've never seen this classic, do yourself a favour and buy it now....more info
  • THE GREAT ESCAPE
    A FAVORITE MOVIE OF MINE FOR YEARS AND I GOT THIS DVD FOR MY HUSBAND FOR FATHER'S DAY. IT IS ONE OF HIS FAVORITES ALSO....more info
  • A great release of a great film
    I shant talk too much about plot and story in this review as detailed explanations and discussions on both are readily available. I shall instead be concentrating on the feel of the film and this particular release.

    John Sturges set out to make as realistic and true a portrayal of the largest escape attempt during WWII with "The Great Escape" as possible, so he drafted one of the actual tunneling POW's from Stalag Luft III as a technical advisor, shot entirely on location in Germany, and recreated an almost exact copy of the original POW camp. Enourmous attention to detail was taken, although the timeline was shortened some and American involvement in the escape mission was somewhat exaggerated, and the result is indeed great. Well acted, well directed, never dull, witty, and with a permeating feeling of excitement and danger. In this DVD edition with cleaner pictures and audio, justice is finally done to "The Great Escape".

    My only grief, and I'm actually a bit ambivalent about it, is the well known and very chipper title music. It is perhaps a bit too dally-come-spiffy for this kind of film. It is, however, a wonderful song, hence my ambivalence.

    The reason you should buy this DVD instead of the single disc version is, that the second disc is packed full of interesting featurettes about the making of the film, which really showcase the care and attention to detail that the filmmakers put into the project. There is also a very interesting piece about the real great escape, featuring interviews with some of the survivors. This documentary is, in my opinion, a goldmine of information and serves as a reminder about the will to fight and dedication to the war effort that these people, who were incarcerated in an escape-proof camp, showed. The escape is perhaps not as glamorous as nighttime raids over Berlin or fighting the frontlines in the Ardennes, but just as spectacular and just as daring.

    This is definitely one of the best DVD's out there. Thoroughly, thought through, as it were. Highest possible recommendation....more info
  • Entertainment but not True in the strict sense of the word!
    This is one of the great films of all time, and a perennial Christmas favourite but I would suggest before anyone gets too over-excited about it being a "true" story, they read the book. Its a sad reflection that fictitious Americans had to be inserted into the film for commercial purposes because the largest target audience of the film wouldn't have the attention span to watch anything not featuring them. The real story is just as dramatic and even more tragic. ...more info
  • Special Edition not special enough
    This is yet another five-star film reduced to a three-star DVD. And I'm talking about the latest remastered Special Edition. While this version has, at last, been mastered in anamorphic widescreen (unlike the previous letterboxed release), and received at least a semblance of the extras it needs, basic video quality still leaves a great deal to be desired.

    The image on this transfer is sharp and clear, but flesh tones are over-saturated, with an unnatural orange look. Also, the image has far too much contrast, leading to constant burned-out highlights on people's foreheads. This isn't the worst transfer I've ever seen (for that, check out the various "collectors'" editions of The Quiet Man), but it is far from definitive, and shamefully inferior to what this great film deserves.

    To add further insult, the case features a flimsy hinged center mount for the extra disc. This arrived broken, so that the case was effectively useless for safe storage.

    After my enormous disappointment with the original release, and the glowing descriptions I'd read of this 'fixed' version, I had expected much better. My advice: wait for some future, properly-mastered Blu-ray edition to become as cheap as this DVD. Maybe by then the movie industry will have grown weary of abusing movie fans with one slipshod "special" release after another....more info
  • Great Movie, bad format
    The movie has always been great, I didn't notice it was only "Wide screen" and probably would not have ordered it in WS had I noticed that. I like things "my way", not some industry geek tring to push their format on me....more info
  • A Classic WW2 Movie That Defined a Genre
    I've read the Brickhill book which formed the basis of this film. It was an excellent book but the film itself really captured the amazing spirit of the Allies in this world conflict. John Sturges does an amazing job in terms of the character development, pacing, action and more. This is an essential World War II film for any moviegoer and especially for a WW2 junkie. This movie defined the Prison escape film.

    The ensemble cast with the engimatic McQueen, the stalwart James Garner and the steady of Richard Attenborough was amazing. In addition, the great character represented by Charles Bronson, James Coburn and Gordon Jackson round out one of the most memorable films in film history.
    ...more info
  • Great Movie, poor transfer
    I was quite disappointed that midway through the movie the quality of the transfer drops markedly. It is most apparent during certain daylight scenes, where the overall look is overexpoosed and out of focus. I would not have expected this to happen in a "Collector's Edition" if in fact the movie makers cared at all about customer satisfaction......more info
  • The Great Escape 1963 (Two-Disc Collectors Edition )
    In 1943 , the German opened stalag Luft Nord , a maximum security prisoner-of-war camp designed to hold even the craftiest escape artists , In doing so , however the nazi unwittingly assemled the finest escape team in military history -brilliantly portrayed here by Steve McQueen (1930-1980), James Garner 1928- ), Charles Bronson (1921-2003) and Jemes Coburn (1928-2002) -who worked on what became the largest prison break-out ever ettemted . One of the most ingenious and suspensful adventure on film of all time , THE GREAT ESCAPE is a Masterful colloboration between director John Sturges (1911-1992) , Screen-writer James Clavell (1924-1994) and W.R. Burnett (1899-1982) and composer Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004). Based on a true story , THE GREAT ESCAPE is epic entertainment that entertains, captivates , thrills and Stirs . High Quality digital transfer . Highly Recommended...more info
  • Excellent Film from the Director of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
    THE GREAT ESCAPE is director John Sturges' brilliant film presentation of the absorbing Paul Brickhill Book. John Sturges effectively retells the story from the script by James Clavell and W.R. Burnett, which is a condensation of events and people taken from the book. The film deals with the lives and efforts of the Allied POW's to escape from a German prison camp. We do not see John Sturges take any side in this film. Only near the end of the film does he begin to make a political statement on Nazism and its effect on traditional German military ethics and the lives of the captured Allies. Sturges' focus is more on the men caught in war and its effects on them. We see the men rely on dormant qualities they never knew existed until they put on a uniform and were captured and held in foreign territory. We see men going to extreme lengths to escape because of their inborn right to be free. This is represented by Steve McQueen's character Hilts otherwise known as the "Cooler King," Charles Bronson as Danny and Angus Lennie as Ives the "The Mole." We see other men going to equal lengths to escape and cause havoc behind enemy lines by diverting German troops from the front to recapture them. This is the main purpose of the escape and Richard Attenborough as the "Big X" orchestrates the overall plan. He calls upon every expertise of the prisoners to reach this one goal. He calls upon tailors, forgers, scroungers, tinkers, and engineers, just about anyone capable of getting the job done. These are portrayed by James Garner, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, David McCallum, John Leyton, Gordon Jackson, Tom Adams, Nigel Stock and others.

    For years this was considered a great World War II action adventure film, but John Sturges' reaches far above that mundane distinction. His style and ease of direction glosses over his own profound statements that he makes in this film. For example, James Garner cleverly befriends a German guard for the sole purpose of stealing his wallet so he can extort a 35-mm. camera and film from the guard. On the surface the audience is very amused at Garner's sly tactics, after all the Germans are the bad guys. However, subconsciously Sturges gave us enough personal information about the guard that we almost feel sympathy for him. This is reinforced by Sturges' choice of James Garner, one of the most likable actors in Hollywood, to perpetrate the deception on the unknowing guard. How can a nice guy like James Garner do this? As it works out Sturges lets the guard redeem himself. It is this guard that discovers the first tunnel when he spills some coffee on the floor and it disappears through the cracks. Now you the viewer are faced with a moral dilemma. Do I still feel sympathy for the guard? Do I still think that James Garner is a scoundrel? Or do I think that in war I have to do what is necessary? Garner's character did what he had to do and so did the guard.

    Editor Ferris Webster did an excellent job of putting this complex story together giving it coherence and drive yet never sacrificing any of the wonderful characterizations that is the backbone of this film. Daniel Fapp's cinematography brilliantly gives us a feeling of claustrophobia while in the prison camp. Once the escape begins he gives us panoramas of landscapes, which have a dual symbolism. On one emotional hand we are free and the far-off horizons elusively symbolize that freedom. On the other rational hand we know that we are still not free and the vastness of those landscapes only strengthens the reality that ultimate escape and freedom is improbable for the majority of the escapees. Composer Elmer Bernstein also has more to say than meets the ear. This film contains one of his two most recognizable themes in cinema history, but that is an understatement. His main title theme is as much a tribute to the prisoners in this story as it is to all men who must overcome the odds through their own perseverance and unwillingness to bend to defeat to whatever noble end they strive for. Bernstein's complex score complements the theme by giving us passages and statements on the diversity of the individuals as well as their singular overall objective. Once "on the road" the music reaches exhilarating proportions unlike that of traditional action Hollywood scoring. Bernstein wants to put the audience through the same suspense and anticipation that the escapees feel and then unleashes our pent up emotions in a crescendo of rousing orchestrations that has us cheering them on. This was the same brilliant technique he employed in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. I don't think many people give Elmer Berstein the credit for being the musical innovator that he was back in that period in his career....more info
  • This one will do, for now.
    The customer reviews for this special addition release of the Great Escape has helped me to understand the difference, for the first time, between closed letterbox wide screen DVDs and true Anamorphic wide screen DVDs. With letterbox you are giving up bit-depth to occupy the black space at the bottom and the top of the picture. With Anamorphic DVDs most or all of the bit-depth is used for the wide screen picture, giving it more detail. I have the single disk letterbox DVD of the Great Escape, which leaves much to be desired as far as image detail.

    Even though many problems are sited in these reviews about the digital transfer quality of this special addition Anamorphic DVD of the Great Escape, I'm going to buy it to get the sharper picture and I'll live with this version until a better DVD version is released or until a Blue-Ray version ships.

    I know it is harder to fix the color on movies that were shot in the 60s than it is to fix Technicolor movies from the 30s, but the color repair on the Great Escape can be fixed superbly - it is just a costly proposition and MGM has to decide if such color repair is worth the cost....more info
  • An Unforgettable Adventure Film
    This review is intentionally written on March 24, 2006. It is the 62nd anniversary of the breakout of 76 airmen from the tunnel Harry at Stalag Luft III. Having first been thrilled by this classic film as a child in the 1960's, I am delighted to see this film once again, this time on DVD. There is so much suspense! Naturally, details of what actually took place have been embellished and somewhat fictionalized. But how else could the film have been made entertaining? So what if Steve McQueen jumping a border fence is all made up? The essence of the Great Escape is communicated in a vivid manner.

    The viewer gets a taste of camp life. One can see the value of the Red Cross packages, the re-use of tea bags long after the flavor is gone, previous individual escapes telescoped into the first day at the camp, the stooge system designed to protect the forgers, the use of penguins for sand dispersal, etc. The process of tunneling is shown in exquisite detail. The scenes of the trolleys, the sandfalls, instances of claustrophobia, etc., are shown very well.

    Of course, the film could possibly include everything that was directly relevant to the Great Escape. It does not include the digging of George, a later tunnel that originated from the theater. Nor does it show the evacuation of the camp in the face of the approaching Red Army. And there is nothing about the postwar trials of the Germans responsible for the murder of 50 of the 73 recaptured escapees. All in all, however, this is an excellent film.

    ...more info
  • An All Time Classic
    The Great Escape is a classic WWII movie that will have you laughing at one moment and on the edge of your seat the next. If you are a fan of WWII movies then this is a must have for your collection.

    The all-star cast such as James Garner and Steve McQueen, add a lot of flavor to the movie. Overall though, the whole cast in the movie does a terrific job at playing their part. I would recommend this classic movie to anyone.

    Also, the two-disc special edition has some great extras included with it that makes it even more worth while, such as a great documentary on the filming of the movie....more info
  • A classic Escape
    Lets start with the facts-I LOVE THIS MOVIE

    When a friend gave me a gift of the 2 disk DVD set. I was taken aback. I already had the single disk DVD of Escape. however, after view the new 2 disk set, I realized this collection is 1000 parts better.

    On the special features side, there was a four part documentary from the History Channel narrated by Burt Reynolds. and well as five other documentaries giving better insight inro the real events of the Great Escape. History Buffs will love the second disk as I did

    There on NO new addition special footage (cutting room floor stuff) in the DVD of the Great Escape. However there is a new high def transfer. There is a NEW audio commentary track with Director John Sturges, actors James Garner, David McCallum,the late James Colburn and others giving great inside information into the filming of this classic. And for those trivia buffs there is a pop up screen trivia track

    So is the new version worth getting? Well since I love this action film already..and the special features disk just add the mythos of the movie and the events--my answer is YES

    Bennet Pomerantz, AUDIOWORLD...more info
  • Entertaining war yarn
    This is one of the best yarns ever made based on WWII, taut screenplay, great acting, no sidetracking heroines and not a dull moment. I am surprised at some negative reviews calling it a 'joke' and such. The movie is an entertainer. If you want serious stuff related to the Holocaust go watch Schindler's list and hundreds of other documentaries made. The movie does what it is supposed to do, entertainment with an underlying conscience/awareness attached of the seriousness of the basic story....more info
  • Cool Flick
    With what's on TV these days, you gotta consider this one to be kid friendly. Steve McQueen plays a great role in this flick, and even if it is historically inaccurate in some respects it has to be counted among the great war movies of all time. Well acted and well directed. ...more info
  • One of the Best Movies Ever
    I caught the middle of "The Graat Escape" one night on TV and realized I probably hadn't seen it all the way through since childhood.

    This is truly one of the best movies ever. The characters have such gusto and innovation.

    After watching the movie three times (and the music is also a thrill), I bought the book. It was an asset to get the entire background of everyone and the escape in print and to learn the details and outcome of the trials that take place after the movie ends.

    I whole-hearted recommend both the movie and the book....more info
  • even the best movie of all time has a few flaws
    best war movie ever made!!! i actually thought that garner (hendley)and attenborough(roger) were better than mc queen in the movie. if you looked at it closely-attenborough is the real leader and star of the movie. the whole escape is his idea and he is in most of the scenes in the movie.mc queen spends the first half of the movie largely offscreen(while in the cooler).

    my only complaints are minor flaws in the movie: how does mc queen know theres a blind spot near the wire??
    how do him and ives make their escape when they come back to the cooler all dirty? are we to believe that those two dug a hole in the ground and "were burrowing through the ground like a couple of moles" past the wire in one night!?? isnt the ground cold and hard? the sand caves in on bronson and they had wood to hold it up-but that wouldnt happen to those two?? a very unbelievable and stupid scene.
    then the scene where they were dispersing the sand-you have to have your hands in the pockets to pull the string to release the sand. yet garner is marching a bunch of soldiers who release the sand-even though their arms are swinging back and forth?
    then during the escape scenes, mc queen gets chased around on the motorcycle while wearing a german uniform.after getting away from them he inexplicitely takes it off to resume his escape.does he really think he has a better chance to make it wearing a blue sweatshirt and white pants?will that make him blend in more with the germans?
    then when roger and mcdonald are about to be shot-there are about 15 guys who are walking around stretching .no one sees or hears a machine gun being set up till it is too late?
    but the biggest goof of the movie-right before the senior british officer told hendley that 50 men were murdered-he asks where blythe is?? wasnt blythe on the list??? shouldnt he have known this??? big mistake.i'm surprised no one caught that one.
    finally, one prisoner steals a motorcycle and another steals a plane but they dont get executed?? i would think if that happened in the actual escape the gestapo definitely would have killed them.

    other than those minor flaws-it is my favorite movie and one of the best action-drama movies ever filmed.the plot starts a little slow and builds to the exciting climax! the escape scene is very tense and realistic looking. the escapes are very exciting and some are heartbreaking-especially for hendley and blythe.

    everyone should see it at least once.i watched it for the first time with my father when i was very young.now i watch it once a year on march 24th (the date of the real escape) as a way to honor the escapees, and as a treat to myself. even though it is an old movie-give it a chance. you will not be disapointed.

    my only suggestion is, if it comes out again on dvd(maybe for a 50th anniversary deluxe collectors edition-what better way to honor the fifty !!!) it should have a full screen and widescreen option on it. also have some old interviews with mc queen, bronson, and attenborough. there must be something on film about them talking about this film. since it was such an important film for their careers. also have the special features that are on this collectors edition already, of course.
    ...more info
  • Great Escapism DVD
    This is a wonderful film based on the true story of the largest escape from a German POW camp in World War Two. The story comes straight from Paul Brickhill's book of the same name, THE GREAT ESCAPE. The film is loaded with stars, was shot in scenic Bavarian locations, boasts excellent cinematography, and is accompanied by the late Elmer Bernstein's memorable score.

    The story: Allied prisoners devise a mass escape from Luft Stalag III near Sagan, not too distant from Breslau, Germany (in an area in present postwar Poland). It is a Herculean undertaking in that the Kriegies dig three tunnels simultaniously complete with electric lighting, hand-powered trolly system, and forced ventilation. All of this takes place 30 feet under the heels of vigilant German Luftwaffe guards. Despite numerous setbacks and constant German interference, more than seventy Allied flyers escape captivity with three eventually making their way to freedom.

    The movie also has a tragic side. Fifty recaptured prisoners were executed.

    The escape tied up German manpower as the military districts throughout Germany were mobilized to round up the escapees. Though not portrayed in the movie, Hitler originally ordered that all recaptured POWs would be shot. Luftwaffe Chief and Reichsmarshal Herman Goering intervened and the quota was reduced to 50. The movie condenses this tragic event to a solitary remote pasture. In Brickhill's book the executions took place at several different locations.

    THE GREAT ESCAPE has some great elements. The tunnel scenes are claustrophobic. No matter how many times I watch the film, I still empathize with the prisoners as some of their efforts are discovered by the Germans. At the latter part of the movie we follow the separate groups of escaped prisoners and their adventures in fleeing their captors. Each time I see the movie I still hope that these guys make it to freedom.

    Time to also bring the film into historical perspective. The movie does a great job in conveying the spirit of POWs and their brilliant escape. However, also realize that this blockbuster had to be marketable to a wide audience.

    The dirt, grime, overcrowding, and unshaven faces are missing from this portrayal of life in a Stalag. Movies like STALAG 17 and HART'S WAR were closer to the mark. The Sagan P.O.W. compound is brand new fresh cut pine and the Kriegie inmates are immaculately dressed and clean shaven. For convenience, the compound set was carved from a wooded lot adjacent to the Munich movie studio where the interior sets were being filmed.

    In order to sell the movie in the United States, Americans had to play a role in the film. In real life, American flyers were involved in the early tunnel escavation, but were moved -- lot, stock, and barrel -- to an adjacent compound long before tunnels were anywhere close to the wire. History was slightly twisted and some of the roles stretched to keep some Yanks involved in the escape. As such, James Garner was an Eagle Squadron officer while James Coburn played the part of an Australian and Charles Bronson a Pole.

    Steve McQueen was definitely the hook to draw an American audience -- and he knew it. By the time THE GREAT ESCAPE came along, Steve McQueen already had a reputation for being a difficult actor. Traditionally, McQueen's roles have always been that of an anti-social loner. His part is no different in THE GREAT ESCAPE both on and off screen. At one point, McQueen went AWOL from filming and threatened to abandon the production entirely. When his costars caught up with him, McQueen stated that he wanted to be the "hero" of the movie. However, in a film chock full of movie stars and story where only three flyers make it to safety, there was little room for a solitary hero.

    To sooth McQueen's ruffled ego, he was offered a contrived motorcycle chase scene. The motorcycle sequence is typically McQueen as he insisted in playing both pursued and the pursuer in German uniform. McQueen even had his motorcyle buddy flown in from the States to double for him in the barbed war motorcycle jump sequence.

    Okay, so some of the individual escape vignettes are more sensational than in real life. How long would anyone watch a film with escaped prisoners peeking around corners or hiding behind trees? There are enough truthful moments to sustain the story. For example, the theft and subsequent crash of the German airplane did actually happen, albeit without the assault on the German sentry.

    I first saw this film on CBS as a two-part movie in the 1970s. At the time, I was not much of a POW movie fan. HOGAN'S HEROES was about all I experienced in terms of World War Two POW escapes. Immediately after watching THE GREAT ESCAPE I borrowed the Paul Brickhill's book from the library. Soon after I was reading other POW escape books such as KRIEGIE and THE WOODEN HORSE. THE GREAT ESCAPE started it all.

    Over the years there have been several attempts at retelling THE GREAT ESCAPE both in book and movie form. In the 1980s a televison movie premiered titled THE GREAT ESCAPE: THE TRUE STORY. Unfortunately it was a pitiful attempt to update the 1960s original. About the only thing it had going for it was the fact that it more accurately portrayed the execution of the selected 50 officers and the postwar hunt for the war criminals responsible. Likewise there have been several books published that only serve to prove that Brickhill's researched account is better.

    THE GREAT ESCAPE is available into either of two special editions, both boasting special features. Do yourself a favor and buy the DVD, Paul Brickhill book, and the soundtrack CD at the same time.
    ...more info
  • All thumbs up
    (I post this verbatim review authored by my youthful nephew, Gavin -- a bright kid and discerning viewer).

    This is my favorite movie. It is about men held at a German POW camp during WWII. The men dig a tunnel under a fence to freedom. Based on a true story. [Personally, I was mesmerized for years by the motorcycle escape/jump sequence]....more info
  • Great Entertainment; Inaccurate History
    This is a gripping film, to be sure. The late director, John Sturges did a fine job in assembling an engaging action film. The acting ranges from good to excellent. Unlike other reviewers, I found the quality of the transfer to be good. And although I rankled a little at the elevated price of the Collector's Edition, all the added goodies, including a number of excellent American and British featurettes was more than worth the price.

    My biggest complaint with the film is its abuse of the facts, in clear contrast to the claim at the beginning of the film that "every detail of the escape is the way it really happened". To satisfy US audiences, the Hollywood producers and the wims of lead actor, Steve McQueen, a number of changes were made that bore no resemblance to the truth. The motorcycle chase, admittedly an exciting sequence which is well-filmed, was pure fiction, and largely inserted to satisfy McQueen's ego. By the time the escape took place, the American POWs had been taken out of that section of Stalag Luft III.

    Although considerable effort went into accurately recreating the camp, the part that really cracked me up, was when the Garner and Pleasance characters (Hendley and Blythe) somehow penetrate a Luffewaffe aerodrome (in civilian clothes, in broad daylight, and speaking no German). The grand clanger was that all but one of the aircraft in that scene were North American AT-6 trainers (Texan in US parlance, Harvard in Commonwealth speak)

    Ironically, the most historical data is found on the second disk of related material. BTW, for those who enjoy practising their foreign language skills by watching familiar films, the French dubbing and subtitles are good, the Spanish only slightly less so.

    I would give the movie 3 stars for history, and four for entertainment. The extra material rates a five. Taking everything into account, I gave it a four.

    On a personal note, my Dad used to fly with the last guy out of the tunnel, a former Spitfire pilot, Skeets Ogilvie. Dad reports that despite a peak-experience like that, he was a very pleasant, unassuming officer and a gentleman.

    As a post script, although McQueen's insouciant character almost glorifies war, after watching all the material on both disks, I could only see it as a powerful anti-war film. What a terrible waste of human life it was....more info
  • One of the best ever
    John Sturges career contained many extraordinary movies: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, HOUR OF THE GUN, BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK, et al. None however have captured the imaginations of generations of movie lovers as THE GREAT ESCAPE. Filmed on location in Germany, it is reasonably faithful to actual events and the Paul Brickhill book, adapted by W.R. Burnett (LITTLE CAESAR, THE ASPHALT JUNGLE) and James Clavell (TAI PAN, SHOGUN, NOBLE HOUSE). Some characters are composites of different men but the escape itself is true to life. The motorcyle chase (one of the best chases in movie history) is a total fabrication but works wonderfully with Steve McQueen (the actual fence jump was done by his friend Bud Ekins). A terrific cast that also includes James Garner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, David McCallum, Donald Pleasance, Richard Attenborough, Gordon Jackson, Tom Adams and a host of others. Special features include several documentaries -- based on an A&E feature narrated by Burt Reynolds -- interviews with the real men from the event and others. ...more info
  • Out you escapees go, through the door or out the window...
    "The Great Escape" is more than just a symbolic film about those needing to break the boundaries that surround them, but instead a pure example of how big-name stars can work together, share screen time, and build individual characters without getting in each others way. Before "Ocean's 11" (either Sinatra or Clooney), there was "The Great Escape", a film that felt as if we had been searching through our drawer of albums looking for a melody from a few favorites. "The Great Escape" felt like a reuniting a friends without skipping a beat. This film felt fresh, remarkable original, and nothing but pure, 100% uncut entertainment from beginning to end. As I look back upon the other films that I have reviewed this year, outside of Kubrick's "2001" epic, none other could compare to what I witnessed in this film. With an idea so simple, directors (as well as actors) get sometimes bogged down with tumultuous detail that looses the overall authenticity of the film. We loose that "knack", and instead are left with actors carrying a film into a dismal oblivion. One can see this happen in my most recently reviewed "M.A.S.H.", but "The Great Escape" pulled ahead. Part "Oceans 11" meets "The Shawshank Redemption", this film greets you with a warm welcome and a devilish smile that never derails or reveals too much too soon. Until the end, it keeps you on the edge of your seat, desiring more, wanting nothing less.

    "The Great Escape" works for two reasons; these are two elements that have been argued time and time again, only to come up for air once in a blue moon. This film works, and nearly demands repeat viewings, because director John Sturges has complete and utter confidence in his actors, and secondly, it works because the script is kept so simple that the final act seems to come from nowhere. It is the classic bait-and-switch routine pulled off with such grace and delicacy, that I nearly missed it myself. Sturges makes this feature work because of his cast, his star-studded cast that is bigger than belief, yet so grounded, one would think that this was everyone's first feature. Amazingly, in one film, one can witness the emotion of Charles Bronson, the loyalty of James Garner, the leadership of Richard Attenborough, the fear of Donald Pleasence, the cunning of James Coburn, and finally the patriotism of Steve McQueen. Let me say this again, in ONE film, you can see all of this - and so much more. Not only do you see these great qualities come out with full force, but each actor works with each other to build a comradery, to make this film work - there is no stress for screen time, they all are eager to make cinematic magic - and it shows. One could speak for hours about this cast; it is half of what makes this film work. It is the cast that keeps you glued to your screen. It is the cast that makes you want to view the next minute of the film. It is the cast that holds this film together - but there is another big part - the script.

    "The Great Escape" works on the next level because Sturges realizes the simplicity of the script, and he does not let that, well, escape. This film easily could have been a convoluted story about escapees trying to elude Nazis, perhaps a love story mixed in, and that clich¨¦ element of a inside man. All of these elements could have been mixed in, but Sturges knew that he had strong enough actors that the audience would have no issues following them till the end. The story is kept simple, because it is the endurance of these men that was meant to shine, not the eruption of clich¨¦ events on screen. This 1962 film hit it square on the head, modern cinema cannot seem to grasp the idea that less will create more - and Sturges saw that with "The Great Escape". Even with a nearly three hour film, it kept my attention throughout because of these two very simple ideas. Strong cast - simple story.

    There is nothing negative about this film that I could see. The idea that the Nazis were just there as roadblocks for our escapees was intriguing because typically they are more involved. Thinking of the modern film "Hart's War", which Ferrell and Willis work together to escape a similar situation, we have so many stories of race, trust, and fear working against the story that it turns into a huge blockbuster of a film filled with clich¨¦ over clich¨¦, merely to turn a profit. While there are big names broadcasting in this film, it doesn't work like "The Great Escape" because the tones are too dark, the themes seem misleading, and our actors fight, literally fight, for screen time that it all becomes muddled and incohesive. In Sturges film, the light shone during the day, our actors never were hurt, and being thrown in solitary seemed like a fly in the pan. Sturges sense of brevity should not be dismissed, while there was a lacking sense of realism throughout this film, it was forgettable. This is rare for me while watching films, because as this was a non-fiction story, there is a level of realism needed to fully submerge into the film - but Sturges does something spectacular - he gives us such great characters, deeply involved within this simple story, that the apathetic Nazis seemed genuine. "The Great Escape" is a flawless film. There are others that could dissect this film bit by bit, but for me, it was nearly three hours of pure entertainment.

    Overall, I was quite impressed with this big-budget film with big-named stars and the biggest escape known to man. As we move into the summer of blockbuster films, where stars all vie for the top weekend spot, hurdling over others and expectations falling short, this old 1960s film (if re-released today) could rival those like "Hancock", "Indiana Jones" and even "Dark Knight". "The Great Escape" proved that if you have a strong cast, develop a simple story - allowing your characters to create their own moments, and just have fun with the material handed to, than you will have on your hands an instant classic. Modern films over the years continue to borrow or re-imagine scenes from this film, and that is the highest form of flattery, but it is also a sign that Hollywood has found moments that work, and will do anything in their power to recreate. Aside from the Hollywood recycling bin argument, "The Great Escape" has an amazing ensemble cast which could rival that of "Oceans 11", and the nearly three hours breeze by with the greatest of ease. Again, it is a flawless film. It was a surprise for this first time viewer, and I cannot wait to introduce this feature to others who may have allowed it to fall through the cracks. Sturges has created Hollywood perfection. Watch this movie.

    Grade: ***** out of *****
    ...more info
  • Worth a Remake...
    The movie has too many modern day problems...back in the early film-making days they could get away with alot of situations in war movies that are far removed from what we know to be true. Its a Hogans Heroes approach to comedy and light-hearted nature in a WW-II POW camp...far from realistic. The politics inside the camp play out on an unbelievable level.

    Steve McQueen's early days are captured, and his gritty performance is a notable standout among a star studded cast.

    Want a POW movie...get "Bridge On The River Kwai" instead....more info
  • "Inescapably Good"
    This movie about the extremely creative and finally succesful escape plans, from a WWII Nazi POW camp, is beautifully done. The prisoners, a cast of some of our best movie "tough guys" and talented character actors keep us nervously awaiting their next moves. Watching this movie is exciting entertainment at its best. ...more info
  • Film Has Slowed With Age, But Still Merits Praise
    It took this 2-disc "Collector's Set" - which finally offered a good DVD transfer - to renew my interest in this classic film. Over the years, it seems the film had gotten slower and slower and didn't have the hold on me it once did. I guess I had become used to today's faster-moving war films.

    However, the excellent transfer has me "back," but it still should be noted it takes almost two hours before the "great escape" finally takes place.....and that may be too long for today's audiences. I loved the last 50 minutes. That, still, was fascinating as much as it ever was, and I liked the earlier character studies of men played by Charles Bronson and Steve McQueen.

    With stars like McQueen, Bronson, James Garner, James Coburn, Richard Attenborough, Donald Pleasance and James Donald you will get some characters you'll remember for a long time. Regardless of the pace, this will always be considered on the best of the World War II movies.

    Now, we wait for a stunning Blu-Ray version....more info
  • Great Adventure Yarn
    When rating a book or movie reviewers use many criteria, some of which aren't quite fair. Personally I think books/movies should be rated on the basis of their intrinsic quality not as to how they are formatted or the quality of packaging. That said, I'm about to disobey my own rule...slightly.

    'The Great Escape' is a great adventure tale and, on that basis deserves 5 stars. I've rated it 4 stars, though, because the writers/producers/directors have altered the genuine tale to appeal to American viewers. Yes, there was a real-life 'Great Escape' but there were no American participants. The Stalag contained a mixture of Americans and Brits who planned the escape and prepared false papers,clothes, uniforms etc. Unfortunately...or fortunately, depending on your point of view...the Americans were all transferred from the camp prior to the actual escape. The escapees were Brits. In most other details the story is correct. Most of the prisoners were recaptured and some, without the knowledge of the prison commandant, were shot by the Gestapo.

    I heard some actual British survivors complaining about the movie in that it downplayed their own role. They are perfectly correct...to put the Americans in the forefront, despite the fact that they didn't participate and no Americans were executed, is an affront to the brave Brits who actually attempted the escape.

    This is an issue for me, personally. Do Americans 'require' stories written about themselves? I took a chance and wrote two novels on the Conquest of Mexico--obviously there are no Americans. The question is will English-speaking Americans be interested in this very Spanish and Aztec tale?

    Ron Braithwaite, author of novels--'Skull Rack' and 'Hummingbird God'--on the Spanish Conquest of Mexico...more info
  • Definite Classic
    This movie stands the test of time. While it did not get much respect when it came out. Most of Steve McQueen's movies don't stand the test. This movie stands out in my mind in a long list of World War II movies. Then you have to consider the All Star cast in this movie; it can't be beat. Truly a great film....more info
  • Cool Action Movie
    This movie has lots of action and held my attention from beginning to end....more info
  • The Cooler King--and all the others
    I first saw this movie on WETA's Masterpiece Theatre. My mom, of course very subjected to letting me watch, ended up allowing me over 12 hours viewing nothing but the Great Escape over and over again. It was worth it. There is only one quam i have with the movie, and that is at the miniscule recognition given to the Mole! He was such a lovable character, and he and Steve Mcqueen made a dynamic duo. Now, not to demoralize any part of this classic, but Steve Mcqueen so outweighed all the other characters except the scrounger and the blind guy that i felt it was a bit of a publicity stunt. Of course, you must take into account the fact that it was of course based on fact, so not much fiction could be added. But overall, you'll regret your life if you don't see this. Especially to all kids who watch the Simpsons: there is a classic joke in the 4th season with Maggie escaping from the Ayn Rand Daycare center where she frees the binkies. There is a scene where she is found on top of a pile of chairs and toys trying to open up the binky locker, the headmistress comes in, sees her, and says, "its the box for you!" at which point Maggie is led away. A baby throws her a small rubber ball and she bounces it against the walls of the crib. This is a representation of the Coolers in The Great Escape, and even Matt Groening admits it was a spoof. This is one of my personal favorite Simpson jokes, but all of that aside, see the movie for the sake of the movie....more info
  • This one will do, for now.
    The customer reviews for this special addition release of the Great Escape has helped me to understand the difference, for the first time, between closed letterbox wide screen DVDs and true Anamorphic wide screen DVDs. With letterbox you are giving up bit-depth to occupy the black space at the bottom and the top of the picture. With Anamorphic DVDs most or all of the bit-depth is used for the wide screen picture, giving it more detail. I have the single disk letterbox DVD of the Great Escape, which leaves much to be desired as far as image detail.

    Even though many problems are sited in these reviews about the digital transfer quality of this special addition Anamorphic DVD of the Great Escape, I'm going to buy it to get the sharper picture and I'll live with this version until a better DVD version is released or until a Blue-Ray version ships.

    I know it is harder to fix the color on movies that were shot in the 60s than it is to fix Technicolor movies from the 30s, but the color repair on the Great Escape can be fixed superbly - it is just a costly proposition and MGM has to decide if such color repair is worth the cost....more info