Title: The Great Escape  Year Caption: 1963 Frame Two  Caption: When captured by the enemy… Scene: Nazi holding gun on prisoner. Frame Three  Top Caption: it’s the duty of all military officers… Scene: Lots of prisoners behind barbed wire. Frame Four  Caption: to escape. Scene: A pair of boots disappearing into a truck filled with branch trimmings. Frame Five  Caption: It required planning,  Scene: Chalkboard with a drawing of a sparrow on it. Frame Six  Caption: invention,  Scene: Close up of man with large glasses working on something very small. Frame Seven  Caption: quick thinking, Scene: A head pokes slightly out of a tiny hole in the ground. Trees are in the background. Head: Uh-oh. Frame Eight.  Caption: and daring. Scene: A plane’s silhoutte in the sky as seen as it’s flying away from an airfield with startle Nazis. Nazi: <Hey!> <German> Sign: Alps Frame Nine  Caption: It’s thrilling. Scene: A motorcycle jumping a barbwire fence. Rating Caption: I give it an escapist’s ten.

The Great Escape is a rousing action film. Some might argue that it’s nothing more than that. Its portrayal of a real WWII prison camp escape is less than perfect, with several alterations to draw in and entertain American audiences. And appeal to audiences it did. There were a lot of good movies competing at the box office when it was released, and yet The Great Escape managed to be one of the top-grossing films that year. One of the reasons it did so well was its large international cast. There was no single hero, but a collection of highly talented actors doing their best to capture the camaraderie and inventiveness of true prisoners of war. In fact, several members of the cast had been actual prisoners of war. There’s no doubt that Steve McQueen, who was a fast-rising star, did his best to stand out. His role in The Great Escape cemented his position as a superstar. His insistence on a motorcycle chase in the movie proved to have helped build the excitement of the escape. But Steve McQueen was only one of several actors who received great exposure; there were also James Garner, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasense, James Coburn and Richard Attenborough. Many of these actors were already known by audiences; The Great Escape just gave them even more screen time. While The Great Escape was nominated for a number of awards, it didn’t walk away with very many. It did receive a Top Ten Films award from the National Board of Review. It was a small acknowledgement of a film that was well received by the public and which had the legs to continue on to become a movie classic. You just can’t go wrong viewing this movie.

 

 



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