The Great Escape (1963) – Encore Review 4

“One has to ask some very strange things in the job I have.” – Bartlett

Number of Times Seen – Too many to count (cable, video, DVD, 15 May 2001, 29 Oct 2013, 1 Jan 2015, 11 Jan 2018, 26 Sep 2019 and 20 Apr 2020)

Link to original reviewHere, Here, Here and Here

Brief Synopsis – Allied POW’s in a German Camp do all they can to escape from their captors even if it just causes the enemy to allocate more resources to keeping them under lock and key.

My Take on it – This is a movie that I’ve seen dozens of times and have always enjoyed every minute of it.

As an ensemble film, it is a movie that truly epitomizes the idea of such a large group of characters being played by so many recognizable and famous actors.

I have been enthralled by the story from the very first time I saw it over 35 years ago and it was my choice of film  me to rewatch for my good friend Howard of Rantings and Ravings in order to discuss it on his podcast.

The cast of this film is spectacular and the way that they all vie or screen time is so enjoyable to see because it helps maximize each of them.

The movie is nearly 3 hours long yet the way things are passed, it moves so smoothly and never drags along the way as things unfold in a compelling and poignant way.

Having seen this movie so often never takes anything away from the suspense of things and it works so well throughout.

The ensemble cats of characters are each developed really well and this allows u to care so much for each of them and all that they do while they try and try to execute this very daring escape.

The way that the film mixes together drama and lots of lighter moments helps the momentum of the film because it tones down a bit the very heavy themes which must have been very taxing and difficult on the men in this story and we get a better understanding of what life must have been like for them in this kind of camp.

It is obvious that this is a very fictionalized (Hollywoodized) version of this real story but it is still done in a way that allows us to see the heroism, patriotism and courage of these men while they were all willing to do all they can to help one another escape their captivity and return to their loved ones.

This is one of the very best films depicting the life of prisoners of war during World War II and even after almost 60 years this movie still resonates so well throughout.

The movie has an amazing theme song by Elm Bernstein that is quite catchy and also stays so memorable as a reminder of the kind of things that these men needed to endure while mixing together some very serious tines with some fun ones.

Check out the podcast that I recorded with Howard for his Pop-Art Podcast here about this film and A Man Escaped (1956).

Bottom Line – Amazing film that really encapsulizes the spirit of an ensemble film. The cast is superb and it’s great seeing them all vie for screen time. The film’s daunting three hours run time is paced so well that it never feels boring or has any lulls in the way the story is told.  The fact that I’ve seen this film over 30 times doesn’t change the suspense as things play out. The film does a wonderful job of developing this ensemble cast of characters to a point where we care about what will happen to each and every one of them as they plan and execute their escape. The film mixed the drama with lots of lighter moments in order to help make this setting more palatable for the viewer while still making us understand the rigors that these men needed to endure. The movie is definitely a fictionalized version of the real story, but it is done in a way that help show the courage and heroism of these men as they all were willing to help one another in their joint effort to make it back home. One of the best war films made about prisoners of war and even after nearly 60 years it still resonates so well. The theme song by Bernstein is extremely catchy and is a reminder of what these men went through because it mixes together a serious tone with a fun one.  Highly Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – During production, Charles Bronson met and fell in love with David McCallum’s wife, Jill Ireland, and he jokingly told McCallum he was going to steal her away from him. In 1967, Ireland and McCallum divorced, and she married Bronson. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (10/10) (no change from original review)


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5 thoughts on “The Great Escape (1963) – Encore Review 4

  1. Pingback: A Man Escaped (1956) – Encore Review | MovieRob

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