The Great Escape Reviews
I reminded myself of the film's claim that this is a true story multiple times throughout this three-hour chronicle. First, it seemed unlikely to me that even the dumbest Nazis would chose to have a camp composed solely of escape artists, yet they said it was a true story. Second, it seemed unlikely that Hilts (Steve McQueen) could get caught trying to escape nearly twenty times without being killed either in pursuit, accidentally, or "accidentally" and all the while look like he just came out of a salon, but they said it was a true story. Finally, the man in charge of forging papers goes blind and the man in charge of digging a tunnel is claustrophobic, but they said it was a true story. Simply speaking, there is a lot in The Great Escape that will test your suspension of disbelief, and I'm altogether certain that much of the action is as sterilized as Steve McQueen's pearly white teeth. But the action sequences and much of the escape scenes are compelling and relatively well-directed.
There are a few attempts establishing relationships between the characters, but the film concerns itself much more with the mechanics of the escape than it does with the goings-on of the people engineering it. The dramatic focus then becomes similar to a procedural, a heist film.
Overall, I can't say that The Great Escape was a great film; there's too little attention paid to character. However, it is generally fun to watch if you're only looking for a diversion.
The World War II action adventure story, deals with POWs who devise an elaborate escape from a German Prisoner of War camp. "The Great Escape" will have your complete attention from start to finish and you will find yourself watching it over and over again!!
Similar to Bridge on the River Kwai (although I prefer that film more so), this is a grand scale WWII film that supplies big names, fun, adventure type atmosphere, and a simplistic sort of logic that shows off an older fashioned way of making a good guys vs. bad guys film.
Based on a true story, a group of allied escape artist type prisoners of war are all put in an 'escape proof' camp. Their leader decides to try to take out several hundred all at once. The first half of the film is played for comedy as the prisoners mostly outwit their jailers to dig the escape tunnel. The second half is high adventure as they use boats and trains and planes to get out of occupied Europe.
Ramsey: Colonel Von Luger, it is the sworn duty of all officers to try to escape. If they cannot escape, then it is their sworn duty to cause the enemy to use an inordinate number of troops to guard them, and their sworn duty to harass the enemy to the best of their ability.
The cast includes James Garner, Richard Attenborough, James Coburn, Donald Pleasence, Charles Bronson, and of course Steve McQueen as the coolest rebel of them all, with time to show off his motorcycle skills. All of them do great work, and again, I'm impressed by how effective Bronson can be. (I think I pegged him wrong in his later and uglier Death Wish days)
All set to another great score by Elmer Bernstein, the film really functions well at being a fun film to sit back and enjoy do to its well natured filmmaking, never becoming too dark, but still supplying a good amount of tension and drama when needed. And of course, McQueen is pretty cool throughout.
Ramsey: Did the Gestapo give you a rough time?
Bartlett: Not nearly as rough as I now intend to give them.
The Germans have "put all their bad apples in one basket" by putting all the POW escape artists in one camp. This turns into their downfall because you have people who are practically professional escape artists all together in one spot and their ingenuity leads them to commit "the great escape".
With a cast like this you can't complain about the acting. The standout in the film is Charles Bronson, who plays the "tunnel king". Sturges directs the action confidently and the tension even on repeated viewings is almost unbearable.
As I said, this is one of those rare three hour movies that doesn't feel like three hours. You're clamoring for more when the credits start to role.