The Great Escape

D: John Sturges
United Artists (John Sturges)
USA/West Germany 🇺🇸 🇩🇪 1963
169 mins


W: James Clavell & W. R. Burnett [based on the book by Paul Brickhill]
DP: Daniel Fapp
Ed: Ferris Webster
Mus: Elmer Bernstein
PD: Fernando Carrere

Steve McQueen ("Cooler King" Hilts), James Garner ("The Scrounger" Hendley), Richard Attenborough ("Big X" Bartlett), James Donald (Senior Officer Ramsey), Charles Bronson (Danny Velinski), Donald Pleasance ("The Forger" Blythe), James Coburn ("The Manufacturer" Sedgwick), Gordon Jackson (MacDonald)

Perennial classic wartime adventure which seems to be especially adored in the UK, possibly because it's become a staple of Yuletide TV viewing for several decades. Based on Paul Brickhill's factual account of an effort by Allied prisoners to break out of a German POW internment camp, it contains an all-star cast of memorable characters.
The build up can be quite slow, but worth watching for the final hour, containing the iconic motorcycle chase in which Steve McQueen's "Cooler King" makes his bid for freedom.
As close to perfect bank holiday viewing as you can possibly get.

Steve McQueen in The Great Escape
Steve McQueen in The Great Escape