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The Great Escape (1963)

  Directed by: John Sturges
Starring: Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, James Donald, James Garner, Steve McQueen
Links: The Great Escape on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy the Book
Genre: Action

This movie gets: 9.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"A true golden oldie" - a review by em_fiction

While watching this, I couldn't help noticing an uncanny resemblance to George Roy Hill's The Sting (1973). It was pretty much just in the fact that it involves a group of men putting together a tremendously witty plan and using it to pull off something real big. Even though this was made ten years before The Sting, and there have probably been about a million other films with a similar concept, these are only ones I've seen... okay, I should really get on with the review.

Based on a true story, but altered here and there to work better as a film, The Great Escape is, as the title suggests, about an escape. It's World War II, and a Nazi prison camp has gotten hold of a large group of prisoners. Among these prisoners are persistent escape artists, including legends Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and Richard Attenborough. They begin to work on an enormous project to somehow cleanly free 250 prisoners. No matter how "escape-proof" the Germans try to make the camp, these prisoners of war will stop at nothing.

A great thing about this film is that unlike most old films, you don't have to be a fan of them in order to follow the plot. Characters are developed immensely, interesting elements keep coming and there is also a sufficient amount of suspense that keeps you going. My only complaint would be that the film is far too long - almost 3 hours. A bit more editing and the film would have been a perfect 10.

Performances are great all around. For me, a lot of these actors were hardly recognisable so young, especially Richard Attenborough (he looks very different compared to Jurassic Park (1993)). The standout performance in my opinion was definitely the late Charles Bronson as the claustrophobic but courageous Danny. Just a note: don't be fooled by the emphasis on Steve McQueen in the film's publicity. He doesn't hold much more significance than any of the other characters - I don't really understand why they focus on him so much on the cover. But that's not too important.

In my own great opinion, if you liked The Sting, you should check this out; and vice versa; if you liked this, then you should check out The Sting. If you haven't seen either, see this first. And if you've seen both, well then... uh... go read a book.

The Great Escape is an exciting film you can really sink your teeth into. Despite its lengthiness, the story keeps on moving unlike most other old films of similar length that almost seem to stop at some point and don't resume until you hit the fast forward button. My advice - have a break when you get to the Independence Day bit and go make yourself a cup of tea or something. The film won't change, and unlike me who watched it three hours straight, you won't stand up with a headache and a lost sense of balance. Still, The Great Escape is truly a delightful classic.

em_fiction gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Sun 2 Nov 2003

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Reader comments

  1. I have to agree with your comments on the lenght, and, although it is long, I also understand the ranking. A good review for a good movie :)

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from hugh on Sun 09 Nov 2003 15:25 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.00 (1 rating)

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