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The Great Escape (1963)

The Great Escape


Average Rating: 8.3/10
Reviews Counted: 45
Fresh: 42
Rotten: 3

Critics Consensus: With its impeccably slow-building story and a cast for the ages, The Great Escape is an all-time action classic.

Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 6
Fresh: 5
Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: With its impeccably slow-building story and a cast for the ages, The Great Escape is an all-time action classic.


Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 102,177


Movie Info

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of performance. Proceeds benefit Capital University's The Schumacher Gallery. Please join the reception after the show! Originally released on the Fourth of July in 1963, THE GREAT ESCAPE returns for its 50th anniversary in partnership with The Schumacher Gallery's exhibit: Memories of World War II: Photographs from the Archives of The Associated Press THE GREAT ESCAPE is based on a true story of Allied prisoners of … More

Drama , Action & Adventure , Classics
Directed By:
Written By:
James Clavell , W.R. Burnett
In Theaters:
Mar 31, 1998
United Artists


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Critic Reviews for The Great Escape

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (42) | Rotten (3) | DVD (29)

This is a Boys' Own Tale, and, as boys, we wanted it, cleansed of horrors, for ourselves.

Full Review… | April 23, 2014
New Yorker
Top Critic

The Great Escape is simply great escapism.

Full Review… | February 6, 2014
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Producer-director John Sturges has fashioned a motion picture that entertains, captivates, thrills and stirs.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Way too flabby at 168 minutes, but once this 1963 feature gets going it's good, solid stuff.

Full Review… | March 1, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Worth seeing the last half hour, if nothing else, for one of the best stunt sequences in years: McQueen's motor-cycle bid for freedom.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It's a strictly mechanical adventure with make-believe men.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

This is one of the all-time great war movies, a PoW adventure from director John Sturges that celebrates the indomitable spirit of the Allied forces even when their backs were to the wall.

Full Review… | April 23, 2014
Radio Times

Watching the starry cast is always entertaining, and while The Great Escape has little new to say about war, this is really not a criticism.

Full Review… | April 23, 2014

Even if you feel you know every scene backwards, there are still manifold pleasures here beyond nostalgia.

Full Review… | April 23, 2014
Total Film

While it's a definite classic in the Steve McQueen gallery, it's also a masterpiece of the action genre...

Full Review… | August 22, 2013
Cinema Crazed

a slow burn which allows you to watch wildly different characters work together and form a team in spite of their differences

Full Review… | June 9, 2013
7M Pictures

Each group of characters get their own riveting planning sequences, all skillfully told. This is one "heist" film where knowing the details of how the escape is supposed to go down before it happens only strengthens the suspense further.

Full Review… | May 23, 2013

Boasting an all-star cast, headed by a terrific Steve McQueen, Great Escape is one of the greatest, most enjoyable WWII adventures Hollywood has made.

Full Review… | April 13, 2011

A consummate work of nuts 'n bolts filmmaking devoted to the single end of creating something that is compulsively, endlessly watchable and re-watchable.

Full Review… | March 16, 2011
Antagony & Ecstasy

An exceptional story about teamwork.

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
Common Sense Media

The title also suits the film's ultimate aim to be a great escape film.

Full Review… | February 24, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

One of the greatest 'popcorn' movies ever

March 16, 2007
Atlantic City Weekly

Expertly directed and written with an infectious undercurrent of wry humor.

Full Review… | March 1, 2007
TV Guide's Movie Guide

It's as blow-dried as McQueen looks even on a bad day, but The Great Escape's mix of suspense, humor, and old-fashioned derring-do pitched by a dream-team cast is so enjoyable that only a lout would complain about it.

Full Review… | April 13, 2006

preposterous and thrilling

August 26, 2005
Shadows on the Wall

Audience Reviews for The Great Escape


By investing good part of its narrative in the many particulars of the great escape planning, this outstanding prison break movie increases our connection with its gallery of memorable characters, making us deeply care about the consequences in a tense and breathtaking final act.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer

What a magnificent piece of classic cinema! Everything from the acting to the music is just pure artistic gold. What's even more amazing is how the details and execution of this ingenious escape from a Nazi POW camp, is all based on true events.

An even better reason to see it though, is the outstanding cast. You got Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and a countless number of other brilliant thespians, whom are now legends of their time. Each and every one giving it their very best, which even further amplified the power of this incredible story.

With this and "Papillon" (another prison escape film starring Steve McQueen) in recent memory, I honestly regret to have waited so long with seeing these classics. They house a soul of unparalleled intelligence, and rows upon rows of beautifully written characters, which is something we rarely get in their modern equivalents.

Indeed it really opened up my eyes to a whole new treasure trove of golden oldies, which I've been happily exploring ever since. And for those that are yet to discover it, may I suggest that you relish the same opportunity.

Mike S

Super Reviewer


A classic, no doubt, but the first hour moves way too slowly and overall it comes off as kind of cartoony. I think McQueen just gets out and gets caught again too many times for it to remain excitying - even later in the film, when the stakes are finally high. Full of iconic scenes, though, and features a big-name cast, a great climax and a wild motorcycle chase.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

Exciting, action-packed film. I think this is McQueen's best performance.

Christian C

Super Reviewer

The Great Escape Quotes

"Cooler King" Hilts:
What do they call a mole in Scotland?
"The Mole" Ives:
A mole.
– Submitted by Venkatesh S (2 years ago)
Senior Officer Ramsey:
Up the rebels.
Down the British.
– Submitted by Francis L (2 years ago)
"Cooler King" Hilts:
What do they call a mole in Scotland?
"The Mole" Ives:
A mole.
– Submitted by Francis L (2 years ago)
We have reason to believe this prisoner is the mastermind behind numerous criminal escape attempts.
Von Lugar "The Kommandant":
[sarcastically] Squadron Leader Bartlett has been three months in your care! And the Gestapo has only 'reason to believe'!
– Submitted by Francis L (2 years ago)
I will not take action against you, now. This is the first day here and there has been much stupidity and carelessness... on both sides!
– Submitted by Francis L (2 years ago)
"Cooler King" Hilts:
Wait a minute. You aren't seriously suggesting that if I get through the wire... and case everything out there... and don't get picked up... to turn myself in and get thrown back in the cooler for a couple of months so you can get the information you need?
"Big X" Bartlett:
– Submitted by Francis L (2 years ago)

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