The Great Escape (1963) – The Movie

Poster from the Movie The Great Escape
THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963)

The Great Escape (1963) appears on the all-time favorite movies list of many people. Whether it is Steve McQueen attempting to leap the barbed-wire barricades on a motorcycle or James Garner and Donald Pleasance crash-landing their plane in sight of the mountains of Switzerland and freedom, the movie evokes a spirit of rugged defiance. Over the years however, scenes such as these added for dramatic effect fueled criticism of the movie. But regardless of such creative embellishments, it was important that the film should be made for the men who had been subjected to live as a POW in Stalag Luft III. It is especially significant to those among them who had served in the RAF’s Bomber Command, as even the smallest token of recognition, wrapped in Hollywood tinsel or not, was better than none. In England, no sooner was the war over than revisionist historians were already at work, condemning the men of Bomber Command to an almost pariah-like status.

It was also important for future generations to know that men were prepared to risk their lives crawling over 100 yards through a makeshift tunnel deep underground, with the wrath of the Third Reich more than likely set to meet them. Above and beyond all, The Great Escape is a movie about courage. Perhaps no-one has said it better than the legendary John Wayne – “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” The men who descended that perilous tunnel on 24 March 1944 were an exceptional example of that expression. So, if Steve McQueen had to pull a stunt on a motorcycle to ensure that the movie was made and widely seen, then it was a small price worth paying.

THE MAKING OF THE GREAT ESCAPE
Coming Soon
MAIN CAST
Steve McQueen
James Garner
Richard Attenborough
James Donald
Charles Bronson
Donald Pleasence
James Coburn
Hannes Messemer
David McCallum
Gordon Jackson
John Leyton
Angus Lennie
Nigel Stock
Hilts ‘The Cooler King’
Hendley ‘The Scrounger’
Bartlett ‘Big X’
Ramsey ‘The SBO’
Danny ‘The Tunnel King’
Blythe ‘The Forger’
Sedgwick ‘The Manufacturer’
Von Luger ‘The Kommandant’
Ashley-Pitt ‘Dispersal’
MacDonald ‘Intelligence’
Willie
Ives ‘The Mole’
Cavendish ‘The Surveyor’
TECHNICAL
Director
Screenplay
Screenplay
From a Book by
Producer
Cinematography
Music
Art Director
Editing
Makeup
John Sturges
James Clavell
W. R. Burnett
Paul Brickhill
John Sturges
Daniel L. Fapp
Elmer Bernstein
Fernando Carrere
Ferris Webster
Emile LaVigne