"'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?' - 'Bartlett: Yes.'"
'The Great Escape' is one of the few 3-hour-long films I can watch time and time again without being bored of them. The reason being? Great witty plot, brilliant actors from an International cast, fantastic visionary director and a killer soundtrack that no one who loves cinema will not recognize.
Let's start from the cast; I mean where to start from? The methodic acting of the British thespians like Richard Attenborough, Donald Pleasance, David McCallum, John Leyton, Gordon Jackson, Angus Lennie or over to the always dashing Americans like Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson and James Coburn...
I cannot for obvious reasons take my pick because the above is a handful. The truth is, many whilst many viewers might get lost with this sea of actors and characters in the film, I find it fascinating to get this multi-cast and bouncing from one corner to the other getting a glimpse of all sides of the story and how every character is able to contribute to the story line.
The plot goes like this:"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." (www.imdb.com)
For me this is not a war film, albeit the fact that it is taking place during WWII and in a concentration camp, this is a film about the war heroes who despite the scrupulous times of warfare manage to have the will to survive and are able to dream outside the barriers of the barbed wire for a free world.
In all fairness the reason I love this film is that it plays most on the intrigue of words and the strategic planning of how the prisoners will get out. The action in the film comes much later on, which I do not seem to mind or even notice as this gives me the ease to just enjoy the war officers mocking around the guards as they try to see their plan through. The acting and the pacing of the film is just a magnetic delight you cannot seem to escape from.
World acclaimed director John Sturges ('The Magnificent Seven')managed to bring an all-acclaimed cast together thus giving the viewers a full-layered background of all the sorts of characters that come and go through our screens during these three hours. In combination with the well-known whistling soundtrac by music composer Elmer Bernstein, the film comes to be complete and gain a character of its own in the cinema hall of fame.
I won't guarantee you the full-packed action like in today's war films but I will guarantee you quality and superb acting. And above all a killer moral message on the human survival!
The Great Escape (1963)
P.S. Could not find a decent copy of the trailer to upload here so for the proper trailer please follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkwmIDx9RwQ