|The Great Escape (2-Disc Collector's Set)
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Studio: Tcfhe/mgm Release Date: 05/13/2008 Run time: 172 minutes Rating: Nr
A stirring example of courage and the indomitable human spirit, for many John Sturges's The Great Escape is both the definitive World War II drama and the nonpareil prison escape movie. Featuring an unequalled ensemble cast in a rivetingly authentic true-life scenario set to Elmer Bernstein's admirable music, this picture is both a template for subsequent action-adventure movies and one of the last glories of Golden Age Hollywood. Reunited with the director who made him a star in The Magnificent Seven, Steve McQueen gives a career-defining performance as the laconic Hilts, the baseball-loving, motorbike-riding "Cooler King." The rest of the all-male Anglo-American cast--Dickie Attenborough, Donald Pleasance, James Garner, Charles Bronson, David McCallum, James Coburn, and Gordon Jackson--make the most of their meaty roles (though you have to forgive Coburn his Australian accent). Closely based on Paul Brickhill's book, the various escape attempts, scrounging, forging, and ferreting activities are authentically realized thanks also to technical advisor Wally Flood, one of the original tunnel-digging POWs. Sturges orchestrates the climax with total conviction, giving us both high action and very poignant human drama. Without trivializing the grim reality, The Great Escape thrillingly celebrates the heroism of men who never gave up the fight. --Mark Walker
- 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.
- Kaua'i Obake Bar Reviews
Classic. The kind of movie you pull out on a gray foggy day, pour three fingers of a good whisky into a glass, and settle in to watch. Definitely not a one-character movie....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
- 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
- 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
- This one never gets old!
During WWII the Germans tire of those who try to escape from their prisons. They build a new prison where they house all of those who have attempted escapes in the past. A fine cast, headed by Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and James Garner, prove that this is a bad idea. With infinite care, the group begins planning an escape through one of three tunnels which they dub "Tom, Dick, and Harry". Every detail is thought through, from shoring up the tunnels with wood purloined from the camp, to forging documents to be used once the prisoners escape into Germany. There is comedy, there is drama, and it is neatly woven together into a story of human cunning and courage under extreme conditions. This is a story that bears repeating, and its performances remain a high point in many of the actors' careers....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
- Cool Action Movie
This movie has lots of action and held my attention from beginning to end....more info
- They earned their pay that day!
One of the all time great films about the human spirit that refuses to bow to tyranny. The story being of mostly British and Commonwealth pilots imprisoned in a Max. Security POW Camp. I don't want to give it away for those poor unfortunents that have not seen it yet. But it is a whale of a great story that is well worth the coin. Good to go to all involved! ...more info
- As Large As Life
The past seven decades have seen the release of innumerable WWII films. A relative handful of these are truly great movies, the majority are products of wretched hackery, and too many of the latter are unconscionable fictions that have been unfairly venerated. "The Great Escape" is among the former - the film has firmly stood the test of time by the merits of John Sturges' meticulous direction, a lavish production and an array of flawless performances by a distinguished cast.
The most important aspect of this DVD edition is its beautiful, vibrant picture, finally presented in the proper 2.35:1 aspect ratio after decades of claustrophobic pan & scan editions on VHS. The Dolby 2.0 sound is fine, if unexceptional; "Escape's" high budget afforded it a 4-Track Stereo sound mix instead of the usual mono - a lavish rarity in 1963 - so I can only imagine that fans and audiophiles alike are waiting for a 5.1 mix on future releases.
As this is one of MGM's earlier discs (1998), the menus are egregiously and predictably ugly, rendered in garish, clashing lime green, purple, bright orange, etc. However, they are accessible and easy to read. The titled thumbnail images of the screen selection menu are divided into 8 screens of 32 scenes, so just about any specific moment in the film can be located with ease.
The French dubbed dialogue track is the old one from '63, and MGM were wise to retain it, as it's excellent. The English, Spanish and French subtitles are also quite good.
Narrated by Miguel Ferrer and first released in 1993, the documentary "Return to 'The Great Escape'" is also included on the disc, and quite a few entertaining stories concerning the film's production are told by members of the cast and crew (most notably Garner, McCallum and Sutherland). It's probably for the best that this documentary was produced when it was, as few of the movie's contributors are still alive today.
The theatrical trailer is also available on this release, in all its hokey, buttoned-down glory....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
- My personal favorite
I keep buying this movie because I lend it away and never get it back....My all time favorite. All Star Cast, beautiful locations, and Steve McQueen....can it get any better?...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
- Well, you kind of miss McQueen, don't you?
Just an excellent movie. In today's world we are enraptured with doing and saying the right thing, and we forget that in the times of our fathers and our grandfathers, captured American and Allied soldiers were kept in POW camps generally in rotten conditions. The three great prison camp movies will forever be Stalag 13, with William Holden, River Kwai also with Holden and Alec Guiness, and this one, The Great Escape.
The Great Escape, like the others, is based loosely on fact (there was a River Kwai and a Stalag 13) and brings together some great faces from 45 years ago.
If the film has a drawback, and by no means does this reflect anything but a superior film, it's the hint of a semi-comedic touch. The guys jumping under a pile of Christmas trees to make it out of the camp; the 'humorous' Nazi Major with the pitchfork. I have to believe that being a prisoner of war in Germany in 1943-44 had to be a terrible experience. Hollywood, and Sturges here to some extent, can be excused for making the very most of Garner, Coburn, Attenborough, McQueen and Pleasence. None the less, I found it distracting. If you were captured in Japan, you never made it to the POW camp. You were hung in the streets.
The duty of American prisoners was to escape. And that's what John Sturges brings to the fore with his great ensemble. A great, rousing movie with great photography and wonderful music by Elmer Bernstein. 5 stars. Larry Scantlebury...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
- 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.
- 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
- The Great Escape Collector's Edition Was Disappointing
Although this is a very good movie, I was disappointed with the Collector's Edition version. I have the original letterbox version and I measured the aspect ratio at about 2.52:1. This new version, although anamorphic, has an aspect ratio of about 2.16:1. I wondered why so I compared scenes from the two versions and it looks like the sides were cropped off of the Collector's Edition to produce the movie with the new aspect ratio. I for one would like to see the entire movie as it was seen in the theater. MGM needs to fix this and release an anamorphic version with the original aspect ratio....more info
- Great movie - If it had both disks
It's pretty horrible when only the special featers disk is included in a 2 disk set. The DVD case is also only a one disk case....more info
- Great movie, but so-so on DVD
This is the definitive story of escape during WW11. And, despite what a previous reviewer said, there were Americans in the camp, and Americans played a big part in digging the tunnel, and in all other operations. The reason no Americans actually escaped using the tunnel, was they were moved to their own compound (south compound) before the tunnel broke. The characters in the movie are composites, and are livened up a bit for dramatic purposes, but most exist. The man who was clausrophobic was a South African named Johnny Travis. He had worked in the gold mines, and was caught in a mine collapse before the war making him afraid of small spaces. He did dig this tunnel, and others, before they discovered he had a gift for making things and moved him to manufacturing escape kits. The "Cooler King" was actually American Colonel Jerry Sage, a member of the O.S.S. and one of the most fearless men ever seen in a prison camp (he actually stole the Commandant's alarm clock from beside his bed, but the other prisoner's were afraid to ask him how he managed it). Being American he did not have a chance to use the tunnel. But he did always take his glove and ball into the cooler. (Sage did eventually escape by other means - read his book "Sage: Dagger of the O.S.S.") If you want to know how this escape really happened this is the movie for you. Just buy the VHS version, unless you already have a widescreen set-up....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 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
- 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
- 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 *****
- 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
- For the Three that Got Away.......
I have seen this movie numerous times, from the big screen to the TV, and no matter how many times..I keep hoping Steve McQueen makes that last motorcycle jump over the double barbed wire. This is the kind of movie that makes you wish that more prisoners could have escaped and even more could have gotten home.
Based on the true story of the mass escape of 76 POW's from Stalag Luft III in March of 1941. Using bare hands and homemade tools, the prisoners built tunnels, made passports, and achieved something almost unimaginable...right under the nose of German guards...they design and executed one of the most daring escapes of WWII.
This movie had so many big named stars working together to re-create this historical moment. Even while writing this, I can hear the baseball hitting the wall as Capt. Virgil Hilts, Steve McQueen, sits out his time in the 'cooler'. Filled with pathos, humor and joy, this is a movie experience not to be missed....more info
- A Classic WWII Movie
This movie is full of stars who use nothing but great acting to show what went into the greatest escape attempt by any group in WWII. It is a bit long, but it is worth it....more info
- Great and memorable war movie
This will always stand as one of the great war movies and THE great prison camp movie. The characters are outstanding--especially McQueen and Garner. McQueen plays his typical cool role, and he is the main hero. Overall, the story ends up with a somewhat sad ending, but seeing the havoc that the Americans and British (and a few other scattered nations) caused when making their escape we can definitely get the sense that it was worth it. One cheers for the troops all through this movie. The music is great too! ...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
- 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
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?
- 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
- Just what I expected
As with all of my other purchases on amazon, I received my shipment early, and got exactly what I paid for. I would recommend this service to anyone....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.
- In an alternate Universe ... he cleared the wire ...
What's interesting about this film is that it was historically over-looked by critics and never considered to be the classic film that it is today.
Films similar to The Great Escape were numerous during the days that this was shot, and honestly, this was just another war movie when it was released. Not many people differentiated this from the other films of 1963. That year produced memorable films that are great in their own right but have probably escaped the same kind of viewing that this film has. The Great Escape is a film with so many really `solid' actors giving riveting performances that films that were critically acclaimed in the day now pale in comparison.
Here's a few films that came out in 1963:
Charade (a fantastic movie)
The Nutty Professor
From Russia With Love
Jason and the Argonauts
Children of the Damned
And yes, The Great Escape wasn't nominated for anything but editing against these "masterpieces". So, I guess that history is subjective and testosterone wasn't really something that people were interested in. While sad, little did they know what turbulence awaited them for the next few years. Who could blame them?
The DVD restoration of this title is absolutely wonderful. Every frame was cleaned and fully restored. The sound is beautiful and Steve McQueen will live on in his craggly glory with his wry smile and devil-may-care attitude forever.
When they do an honest inventory of the best films ever made, this film will be high on the list without any doubt.
- 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
- Quite possibly the most perfect audience picture ever made
The Great Escape may be nearly three hours long, but it moves like clockwork and holds its audience completely. There is always something happening, often with much wit and sometimes touching sentiment that avoids mawkishness. There is one remarkably bad piece of construction, following a genuinely moving death scene with McQueen's motorbike jump, but otherwise the film is perfectly constructed. Elmer Bernstein's score is one of his best, and with considerably more range and variety than you remember adds much to the proceedings.
If it seems a bit dubious making an entertainment out of one of the grimmest episodes of WW2 - 50 of the recaptured prisoners of the genuine mass escape from a German prisoner of war camp were murdered - the darker elements are not ignored, but despite being very effectively handled do tend to get swamped by the sheer exuberance of the film. It now seems particularly curious to that the impossible motorbike jump, while still a great moment, seems so much more underplayed and credible than the increasingly spectacular and cartoonish CGi action sequences of modern action films.
The cast are all outstanding. In Steve McQueen's `Cooler King' we can see the origins of Indiana Jones, the hero as eternal loser. Garner's wonderfully resourceful scrounger and his touching friendship with Donald Pleasance's near-blind forger make perhaps an even bigger impression. Bronson too is very appealing, with all the dry humour and warmth that two decades of working with Michael Winner managed to knock out of him still intact. However, it must be said that Coburn's Aussie arc-scent is enough to make you grateful he hardly said anything in The Magnificent Seven.
The film is just brimming with familiar faces, from the stars to British war movie stalwart Gordon Jackson and the equally omnipresent Karl Otto Alberty ("Your German is very good. I hear also your French. Your hands - UP!"). Don't remember him? He fought in the 'Battle of the Bulge,' planned the 'Battle of Britain' and had a memorable showdown with Clint Eastwood as a tank commander in Kelly's Heroes. Only Sam Kydd is missing. With so much to enjoy and remember, The Great Escape is quite possibly the most perfect audience movie ever made.
- A Timeless Classic, One of my personal Top 10
I have never met a person who has seen this film and does not like it. It has something for everyone: drama, light-hearted comedy, amazing characters played by one of the greatest casts ever assembled (Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn). The story follows several British and a few American POWs as they plot to escape a German prison camp. The story is based on a true story of the largest prison break of WWII. The actual strategies used to plan and carry out the escape are true, though other aspects of the movie stray into the realm of artistic license. Though the subject matter is serious, the story remains often light-hearted, yet does so without down-playing the struggle and sacrifice of the POWs. This version is presented in its original theatrical aspect and includes a documentary. Also, as a side note, for a hilarious commentary on this film check out Eddie Izzard's "Dress to Kill" (warning: very strong language). The violence of this film is minimal and the language is mild, it is family safe. This film is an absolute classic. If you like films about WWII, or just like a good movie with well developed characters, be sure to check this one out....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
- 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
- The Great Escape
Aptly-named feature is likely the greatest escape movie on record. Ingenious and suspenseful, well-directed and beautifully shot, it's an ideal showcase for rising mega- star Steve McQueen. Though well over two hours, the whole family should stay glued to this one....more info