Sunday, August 15, 2010

51. The Great Escape (1963)


Colonel Von Luger, it is the sworn duty of all officers to try to escape. If they cannot escape, then it is their sworn duty to cause the enemy to use an inordinate number of troops to guard them, and their sworn duty to harass the enemy to the best of their ability.

Every once in a while, someone in Hollywood decides to get a bunch of big name actors and actresses together to make a must-see "super-film". Recent examples include "Grown Ups", the "Oceans 11" series, and "The Expendables". Older examples would be "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" and "The Great Race". Most of the time these movies turn out to be pretty hokey or just plain bad (although the new Oceans 11 and 13 are both pretty awesome). This is because most of the budget is spent on actors so direction and writing take a back seat. This is not the case with "The Great Escape".

Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Donald Pleasence, and Richard Attenborough (the old guy from Jurrasic Park) team with a huge cast of relatively unknown actors, many of which had real-life experience being imprisoned in POW camps, to make the perfect escape movie. This is another one of those movies that feel very familiar even if you have never seen it before because it is referenced in virtually any movie with a prison camp or escape element to it (everything from "Chicken Run" to "The Shawshank Redemtion"). The movie is nearly three hours, but it is separated into two distinct halves which does a good job of breaking up the flow and making it very watchable (and rewatchable).

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