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The Great Escape 1963

Allied P.O.W.s plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German camp during World War II...

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Imdb rating: 8.3

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Great Escape

Another great film. I figured that for a film of its length it would fall apart somewhere along the line. But it didn't. It only got better.
***.5/****

Pro: Epic. Great ensemble cast. Wonderful energy. Lots of spirit.

Con: Too light for the subject matter. Terrible screen aspect (on the dvd).
I went to watch Dead Man, which I had TiVoed and someone erased it. That irritates me.

So, I watched The Great Escape. Hadn't seen it in a while, so I figured, what the hell. Great flick. Not a dull moment in the entire film, and, especially starting with the escape from the camp to attempts to escape Germany, is one of the great suspense movies made. And of course, you can't go wrong with the combination of McQueen, Garner, Coburn, and Bronson. And, hey, you've also got Donald Pleasance and Richard Attenborough, rounding out one of the best ensembles put on screen. And I'm sure I'm forgetting someone.
This was good Nazi World II prisoner movie. Although I have two problems with it. It seems to light-hearted and it ran way to long. You really feel the 3 hours. I still enjoyed it.
The Great Escape is one of the quintessential action films: there are sequences that have become so iconic that there is a good chance modern audiences will have seen them lampooned before they see the original movie. While the movie is often cited as one of the best entries in the action genre, it is not entirely deserving of its reputation. The Great Escape contains many moments that are thrilling and wonderful, but as a whole the movie is far too slow-paced and unfocused to be an entirely effective action film. Since the movie tells the remarkable (and true) story of a large group of Allied soldiers who devised a plan to escape from a German prison camp, one would assume that The Great Escape would have a real feel for life in the prison camp. Yet part of the problem with the film is that we never really get a sense of the horrible nature of being imprisoned, and as a result, we do not share the characters' desperation to escape. To be sure, the movie makes some half-hearted attempts at showing how terrible life is (most memorably in the sequence which finds Steve McQueen locked in solitary confinement and bouncing a baseball off the wall), but most of the film feels curiously naive about the realities of war. Nevertheless, we forgive the lack of realism in The Great Escape because the film is quite clever and inventive, particularly in its first half. We are introduced to a large number of Allied soldiers, and immediately they begin working on a plan to escape from the prison. Each of the prominent prisoners conveniently have a special skill that will prove useful in the escape: there is the "Tunnel King" (Charles Bronson), "The Scrounger" (James Garner), and a document forger played by Donald Pleasance. And, of course, there is the rebellious Captain Hilts (Steve McQueen), who is the cause of much grief for the German officers in charge of the camp. Despite the presence of so many iconic actors, the only performers that really create memorable characters are McQueen and Pleasance...McQueen because he is the epitome of cool, and Pleasance because he brings a depth to his character that is lacking in the rest of the film. While the opening hour of The Great Escape is quite inventive and witty, the movie begins to drag after the escapees have succeeded in breaking out of the camp. The film focuses on the German effort to track down the prisoners (who are now scattered throughout Europe), and that gives the second half a somewhat disjointed, uneven pace that eventually causes us to lose interest. Director John Sturges handles many of the late action scenes competently, but as he showed in The Magnificent Seven, Sturges is a fairly unimaginative director who often smothers his films in a level of stoic professionalism that grows tiresome. The central problem with The Great Escape is that it feels almost as calculated as the escape itself, and we desperately yearn to make some sort of connection to the prisoners. The film works as entertainment, but it ultimately lacks resonance, and isn't even inventive enough as an action film to deserve its status as a classic. Unlike the escape on which it is based, The Great Escape is solid but not particularly memorable.

(BASIC)
Saw The Great Escape. Damn fine movie. Cast is great, and the score is fucking memorable. I liked Garner's character the best. He just seemed like a typical smug American, which is cool in a movie like this. He got shit done, whereas McQueen didn't do much of shit. Eh well.

The intern at work has a boyfriend, I found out. But that doesn't deter me! I shall put forth a half-assed effort at least. However, upon further inspection, she's not as attractive as I made her out to be at first. But she's definitely hittable. Has really nice eyes.

But I don't look at women that way....in a physical manner. I look at their inner beauty.


1. See No Evil, Hear No Evil
2. The Toy
3. Brewster's Millions
4. Lady Sings the Blues (ahhh, Billie Holliday)
5. Harlem Nights

Be good, y'all. Be back Tuesday morn.
Movies with a plan are typically a lot of fun. You know, the jewel heist movie, the wartime seige movie, and, of course, the escape movie. I love the planning stage in which we learn about the impossible odds to overcome - in this case, breaking out of a German POW camp specifically designed to keep habitual breaker-outs in - and we meet all the important characters. Since story in these sorts of movies pretty much solely consists of overcoming the problem, character depth is not important. I like being able to sum up each character with the duty they perform. There's Charles Bronson as the Tunneler. James Garner as the Man Who Can Get It For You. Richard Attenborough as the Planner. Donald Pleasance as the Forger. And then there's Steve McQueen as the Outsider who winds up making a sacrifice. There. That takes care of most of the major players. Now let's see how the escape goes down. Of course, as the saying goes, you can make plans, but you can't plan results. Something always goes wrong, and if the movie has done its job right - as "The Great Escape" invariably does - you're in as much pain as our heroes. The tunnel - designed to reach into the woods over 200 feet away - comes up too short. An air raid occurs in the middle of the escape. The Tunneler turns out to be claustrophobic and has a panic attack in the middle of the escape. And then there's the one escapee who does the one stupid thing that spoils the whole plan. Can the Plan have possibly worked? Well, if it's "The Great Escape" - based on a true story, and claiming that every detail of the escape is accurate - not everybody's going to have a happy ending. Some of the most beloved characters die, and only a few actually escape. That's another thing I love about the Plan Movie. If it's a good one, it remembers that there's no way everybody will get away with it. "The Great Escape" wasn't the first escape film (take a look at "Grand Illusion" for the finest earliest example), but it certainly raised a bar that the genre has been trying to reach ever since.
Can you tell Daddy and I have been hanging out together today? I've seen Stalag 17 a million times, and it's a really great, classic WWII movie. Keeps you thinking, and laughing.

Same with The Great Escape. Obviously, classic. Funny as all get out. Witty one liners, but also enough seriousness to help you understand what a stalag was like in WWII. And Steve McQueen is awesome and sexy. They were so ingenious, sewing blazers out of blankets and singing carols to mask noises of hammering. The commandant of the camp is interesting as well, showing how the SS/Gestapo and the German Army were two very different sects of the Nazi party. The Gestapo were hardcore Hitler followers, out to kill. The Army was just, for the most part, doing their job by keeping the American soldiers in their prisons.

The same can be seen in Hart's War, where the commandant is weary of brutal treatment as well. They give a human side to some Nazis, which I would usually spit at and say "Screw the Krauts"...but it is true that a lot of these men weren't in it to kill Jews, but to serve their country or survive. Or both, if they were lucky. This movie had me going "wha?" for awhile, which is good- took itself too seriously sometimes, which isn't too good...I really liked Colin Farrell, and not just because he looked damn sexy. I liked him, but I think my favorite character had to be the commandant, the German Colonel. He was Jeremy Ironsesque, which makes him instantly awesome, but the character and actor were both dynamic.

I just noticed Steve McQueen looks a lot like my cousin... O.o

So, there ya go. Movie reviews up the vienerschnietzel. *yawn*
In the past week i've seen The Great Escape, When Harry Met Sally, La Retour de Martin Guerre (The Return of Martin Guerre) and The Magnificent Seven. Under normal circumstances, I would probably have never voluntarily watched these films, but for different reasons I ended up seeing all of them. And now i have come to the conclusion that Steve McQueen is a cool guy. I mean, who else would be so daring as to sneak around in white pants in the middle of the night while trying to escape from a German PoW camp? And what sort of cowboy would still be so calm and laid-back, all the while wearing a peachy pink shirt? Steve McQueen, that's who

All the films i've seen in the last week have been pretty good. The only one i found rather painful to sit through was The Return of Martin Guerre. I had to watch that as part of my Film & History course and i felt it was quite a slow-moving film. It had it's interesting moments, but it still wasn't enough to incite a liking of the film from me...Sorry Martin Guerre :(
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