Wednesday, January 22, 2014
406. The Great Escape (1963)
Running Time: 172 minutes
Directed By: John Sturges
Written By: James Clavell, W.R. Burnett, from book by Paul Brickhill
Main Cast: Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, James Garner, James Donald, Charles Bronson
Click here to view the trailer
A GREAT ESCAPE, BUT NOT THE GREATEST
No, because the greatest escape in the history of cinema goes to "Le Trou", but this one is right up there in the top 5 greatest escape movies ever, with the likes of "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Escape from Alcatraz". This is another one that was originally intended to be saved until the grand finale, but a Netflix wait made me get it here a little sooner.
The film is set in Germany, during World War II and takes place at a POW camp, where many Allied soldiers are being held prisoner. The camp is pretty decked out when it comes to security, complete with barbed wire fencing and armed guards. We jump in just as the camp is getting a big batch of new arrivals, including Captain Virgil Hilts (McQueen), Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett (Attenborough), Lieutenant Robert Hendley (Garner) and Captain Ramsey (Donald). Of course, the main objective to all of the men is to escape, but thanks to that decked out security I spoke of, that's not going to be an easy task. Just ask Hilts, who takes every opportunity to get out and always gets nabbed and thrown in the cooler (solitary confinement). However, it is Bartlett who proposes the "great" scheme of the title, when he announces plans to sneak out upwards of 250 men, by digging three tunnels, nicknamed Tom, Dick and Harry. If the goons (what the prisoners call the guards) happen to spot one, they can pick right up with one of the two remaining, unidentified tunnels. That's basically the long & short of it and I don't want to say anymore and risk spoiling anything.
Did anyone else find it extremely odd that Charles Bronson's character was totally fine with digging the tunnel for the entire duration of the film and then all of a sudden he snaps and becomes an out of the closet claustrophobic? They make up some bullshit excuse, but I don't care because it really makes zero sense. But guess what, this films is so good that it gets a free pass on little nonsensical things like that. I mean, come on, who doesn't love an escape movie, let alone "The Great Escape". What's not to like? Okay, I'll admit that everything past the men actually escaping the camp is a little less entertaining than the escape itself, but it's still really good and it continues the suspense nicely. I'm a sucker for the ins and outs of what it takes to bust out of somewhere. If they ever send me to prison, I think I'll become the new "cooler king", because I'll be fascinated with escaping, but probably fail.
I mean, the cast is great, the plot is outstanding and the excitement & suspense haven't been this present in a BOOK movie in quite sometime. I LITERALLY jumped when the guys were escaping and the air raid horn began to sound. I felt like I was at the other end of Hilts' rope, waiting for my turn to play groundhog, peek my head out and run to freedom. The film clocks in at just under three hours, but it's the easiest three hours you'll ever spend watching a film, I guarantee it. I defy you to find someone who doesn't like this movie, because everything I'm looking at, has everyone singing it's praises. Favorite member of the cast? Either McQueen or Garner, I loved them both. In fact, Garner's character's little back and forth with the guard Vernor was ONE OF my favorite moments in the film, but as THE BOOK points out, almost every scene is a memorable one. Oh and I loved the theme song too!
RATING: 8.5/10 Can't go '10' because I've become an ultra picky son of a bitch, but it's damn good and quibbling over numbers is ridiculous anyway. By the way, I'll be in, probably tomorrow, for a little update post to talk about few things, so keep an eye out for that.
MOVIES WATCHED: 784
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 217
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