The Great Escape is one of those fun movies that hooks you from the beginning and has you wishing it won’t end. I never pass up a chance to watch this film and if you have never seen it please be sure to put it on your movie bucket list. Based on a first hand account of a prisoner of war camp mass escape in modern-day Poland then Nazi Germany this movie will not disappoint. The Germans decide to lock up “every escape artist in Germany” in this camp guarded by the Gestapo and the movie begins with several feeble, unsuccessful attempts to escape. The list of actors in this movie could fill an entire post. Steve McQueen plays an American Pilot with an authority problem. James Garner is a second American flyer, known as “the scrounger”, Charles Bronson is the slightly clausterphobic Eastern European “tunnel king” and Donald Pleasence plays a British Gentleman as “the forger”. Richard Attenborough is Roger Bartlett of the Royal airforce who is introduced in the beginning of the film as principal organizer of escapes in other Luftwaffe prison camps and is warned that he will be shot if he attempts another at this camp. He begins organizing a grand attempt as soon as he is led to his quarters with the rest of the prisoners. The group led by Attenborough decides to tunnel out of the camp three ways in case one of the tunnels is discovered. McQueen playing his usual lone wolf character wants to escape on his own terms and he quickly earns his “cooler king” nickname after several failed attempts to escape with his sidekick and several visits to the “cooler”. After his sidekick is killed in a botched suicidal escape attempt McQueen agrees to help the group complete their plans of a camp-wide escape. There are several near misses where you think the Germans have caught on to the plan and excellent scenes detailing how the group is putting the plan in action but the ultimate scene is the “Moonshine” scene where the 3 Americans including McQueen and Garner use all of the potatoes in an effort to make a batch of “smooth” shine to celebrate Independence Day in a camp full of Brits.
The Penultimate scene in the film details the night of the escape and the film ends following those who got out and what happens when they do finally escape the camp. The Cast is awesome, the story is riveting, the dialogue is funny and the ending is exciting but, you will agree, comes to soon even though the movie has a running time of nearly 3 hours.