“Well sir, the execution of one man takes some planning. But the execution of 50 escaped prisoners takes a lot of planning. A lot of cooperation at the local level. In my view therefore, this could never have been a local operation. This plan had to start at or near the top in order for it to succeed.” – Capt. David Matthews
Number of Times Seen – at least twice (TV in 1988 and 23 May 2021)
Brief Synopsis – Following a mass escape from a German POW Camp, the survivors try and find out who murdered 50 of their comrades after they were executed after they were recaptured.
My Take on it – This is a film that I recall seeing on TV when it originally came out and at the time didn’t quite understand the similarities and differences to the classic film The Great Escape (1963).
Since I am currently preparing to release a Movie By Minute podcast on The Great Escape (1963), I decided that as part of my preparation for it, I needed to rewatch this film in addition to reading both the original script of the film and reading the novel by Paul Brickhill about the real escape plan.
This film is much more faithful to the original story than the 1963 blockbuster and the two stories are both similar and very different depending on how one looks at things.
This film uses the real names of the POW’s and does its best to not Hollywoodicize the story very much ion order to tell it like it was.
The cats of this film is great and I loved seeing Christopher Reeve, Judd Hirsch, Ian McShane, Donald Pleasance, Tony Denison and Charles Haid in key roles.
The fact that Pleasance was also in the original film is fascinating because the characters are so very different and the 25 year span between films helps camouflage any minute similarities that there might have been between these characters and their mannerisms.
The film takes the time showing part of the escape plan, but spends just as much time on the attempt to track down and capture the men responsible for carrying out the murder of 50 of the escapees.
Another connection between the two films is that Jud Taylor, who played Goff in the original film was one of the co-directors of this film.
This is an effective made for TV movie, but a mix of the two films together might have been much more powerful in showing the poignancy of it all.
MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Ian McShane’s character, Roger Bushell, was the real-life inspiration for Roger Bartlett (Richard Attenborough) in The Great Escape (1963). This same year, McShane appeared in War and Remembrance (1988) with Karl-Otto Alberty, who had appeared in the original Great Escape film. Also appearing in War and Remembrance was Jane Seymour, who was previously married to Attenborough’s son. She was preceded in her role by Ali MacGraw, who was previously married to Steve McQueen. Karl-Otto Alberty appeared in all three films. (From IMDB)
Rating – Globe Worthy (8/10)
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