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While the POWs enjoy a 4th of July celebration arranged by the three Americans in the camp, the guards discover "Tom". The mood drops to despair, and Ives frantically climbs the barbed wire surrounding the camp, to be shot dead. The prisoners switch their efforts to "Harry", and Hilts agrees to reconnoiter outside the camp and allow himself to be recaptured. The information he brings back is used to create maps to guide the escapees. Blythe becomes nearly blind due to progressive myopia caused by intricate work by candlelight; Hendley takes it upon himself to be Blythe's guide in the escape.

The last part of the tunnel is completed on the scheduled night, but it proves to be twenty feet short of the woods. Knowing there are no other options, Bartlett orders the escape to go ahead, and Hilts improvises a rope signal system to allow them to exit the tunnel between sweeps of the guards on patrol. Seventy-six prisoners escape, aided by an air-raid blackout: once back on the rope, however, Griffith impatiently exits the tunnel in view of the guards, and the escape is discovered.

Hendley and Blythe steal a plane to fly over the Swiss border, but the engine fails, and they crash-land. Soldiers surround them and Blythe, his eyesight damaged, stands and is shot. As Blythe dies, he thanks Hendley for getting him out. When Bartlett is recognized in a railway station by Kuhn, Ashley-Pitt rushes Kuhn and shoots him, but is killed while attempting to flee. The resulting confusion allows Bartlett and MacDonald to slip away, but they are later caught as well. Hilts steals a motorcycle at a checkpoint and is pursued by German soldiers.

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He jumps a first-line barbed wire fence at the German-Swiss border; but before he's able to jump the second-line fence, the motorcycle is shot, causing him to become entangled in the bigger, second line of the fence and be captured. Three truckloads of recaptured POWs are driven down a country road and split off in three directions. The prisoners are shot dead under the pretense that they were trying to escape. In all, 50 escapees are murdered; Hendley and 10 others are returned to the camp.

Only three POWs make it to safety: Danny and Willie steal a rowboat and proceed downriver to the Baltic coast, where they board a Swedish merchant ship. Sedgwick makes it to France, where he is guided by the Resistance to Spain. Hilts is returned to the camp and taken back to the cooler, just as Von Luger is relieved of command of the camp by SS Lieutenant Steinach, with the indication that he will be executed for having failed to prevent the breakout.

The film closes with a caption reading, "This picture is dedicated to the fifty ".

The story was adapted by James Clavell , W. In the book, Brickhill noted he had been a very minor member of the X Organization, one of the "stooges" who monitored German movements in the POW compound. The film was to a significant extent fictional, based on real events but with numerous changes made to increase its drama and appeal, and as a vehicle for its box-office stars.

While some of its characters were fictitious, most were amalgams of several real characters and others based on real people. In reality there were no escapes by aircraft or motorcycle: the motorcycle sequence was asked for by McQueen, a keen motorcyclist, who did the stunt riding himself except for the final jump, done by Bud Ekins.

The screenwriters significantly increased the involvement of American POWs; the real escape was by largely British and other Allied personnel.


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A few American officers in the camp initially helped dig the tunnels, and worked on the early plans; however, they were moved away seven months before the escape, ending their involvement. The film omits to mention the crucial role Canadians played in building the tunnels and in the escape itself. Of the 1, or so POWs, were involved in preparations out of which were Canadian. Wally Floody , an RCAF pilot and mining engineer who was the real-life "tunnel king," was engaged as a technical advisor for the film.

Ex-POWs asked film-makers to exclude details about the help they received from their home countries, such as maps, papers, and tools hidden in gift packages, lest it jeopardise future POW escapes. The film-makers complied. The film omits to mention that many Germans willingly helped in the escape itself.

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The film suggests that the forgers were able to make near-exact replicas of just about any pass that was used in Nazi Germany. In reality, the forgers received a great deal of assistance from Germans who lived many hundreds of miles away on the other side of the country. Several German guards, who were openly anti-Nazi, also willingly gave the prisoners items, and assistance in any way to aid their escape.

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The need for such accuracy produced much eyestrain, but unlike in the film, there were no cases of blindness. Some, such as Frank Knight, gave up forging because of the strain, but he certainly did not suffer the same ocular fate as the character of Colin Blythe in the film.

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Steve McQueen , in a role based on at least three pilots, David M. Jones , John Dortch Lewis, [11] and William Ash , [12] [13] [14] has been credited with the most significant performance. Critic Leonard Maltin wrote that "the large, international cast is superb, but the standout is McQueen; it's easy to see why this cemented his status as a superstar.

He volunteered to fly with the Film Unit and after further training, where he sustained permanent ear damage, qualified as a sergeant, flying on several missions over Europe filming from the rear gunner's position to record the outcome of Bomber Command sorties. Richard Harris was originally announced for the role. He is played by James Donald. Massey walked with a limp, and so did Ramsey in the movie who walked with a cane.

Massey had suffered severe wounds to the same leg in both wars. There would be no escape for him but as Senior British Officer, he had to know what was going on. Group Captain Massey had been a veteran escaper himself and had been in trouble with the Gestapo. His experience allowed him to offer sound advice to the X-Organisation. He was shot down and spent a year in German prisoner-of-war camp Stalag Luft I. Like his character, Danny Valinski, he was a coal miner and suffered from claustrophobia.

James Garner had been a soldier in the Korean War and was twice wounded. He was a scrounger during that time, as is his character Flt Lt Hendley. The film is accurate in showing that only three escapees made home runs, although the people who made them differed from those in the film. He is the one who fires his pistol at Steve McQueen's character during the escape. Kiwe had been a German paratrooper officer who was captured and held prisoner at a POW camp in Colorado. He made several escape attempts, dyeing his uniform and carrying forged papers.

He was captured in the St. Louis train station during one escape attempt. He won the Knight's Cross before his capture and was the cast member who had actually done many of the exploits shown in the film. The film was made at the Bavaria Film Studio in the Munich suburb of Geiselgasteig in rural Bavaria , where sets for the barrack interiors and tunnels were constructed. The camp was built in a clearing of the Perlacher forest near the studio.

The nearby district of Pfronten [26] with its distinctive St. Nikolaus Church and scenic background also features often in the film. The film depicts the tunnel codenamed Tom as having its entrance under a stove and Harry's as in a drain sump in a washroom. In reality, Dick's entrance was the drain sump, Harry's was under the stove, and Tom's was in a darkened corner next to a stove chimney.

Other parts of the chase were done by McQueen, playing both Hilts and the soldiers chasing him, because of his ability on a motorcycle. The restored machine is currently on display at Triumph 's factory at Hinckley , UK. In the years since its release, its audience has broadened, cementing its status as a cinema classic. It's a strictly mechanical adventure with make-believe men. With accurate casting, a swift screenplay, and authentic German settings, Producer-Director John Sturges has created classic cinema of action. There is no sermonizing, no soul probing, no sex.

The Great Escape is simply great escapism". In a poll in the United Kingdom, regarding the family film that television viewers would most want to see on Christmas Day, The Great Escape came in third, and was first among the choices of male viewers. According to the veterans, many details of the first half depicting life in the camp were authentic, e. In , the 70th anniversary of the escape, the RAF staged a commemoration of the escape attempt, with 50 serving personnel carrying a photograph of one of the men shot.

WikiZero - The Great Escape (film)

The film has resulted in the story and the memory of the fifty executed airmen remaining widely known, if in a distorted form. References to scenes and motifs from the film, as well as Elmer Bernstein 's theme, have appeared in other films, television series, and video games. Sign In Don't have an account? Start a Wiki. University of Wisconsin Press.

ISBN Please use a more specific template. See the documentation for a list of suggested templates. The Times London : p. Mr David North-Martino. Rebecca Brown. Eric Guignard. This critical text offers a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most important American war films of the last 60 years. Based on original interviews, archival research and featuring rare photographs, this book covers films that are considered unusually realistic for the genre. The original edition covered war films through World War II, while the updated version i This is an excellent addition to the collection of any Bond fan.

Interview with Ronald F. Maxwell by the author, January Maxwell by the Jan, 75, 83 White, Michael, 33, 34 Whittingh The book provides information on the death-defying stunts, the music, the opening credits, the high-tech devices and the actors. Kenneth Whitfield , Mr. Tyson West , Mr.

Currivean , Mr. Mark Slade , Mr.