8.2/10
184,111
313 user 94 critic

The Great Escape (1963)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama, History | 4 July 1963 (USA)
Allied prisoners of war plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German camp during World War II.

Director:

Writers:

(book), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
1,374 ( 149)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Top Rated Movies #127 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Adventure | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.

Director: David Lean
Stars: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins
The Sting (1973)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Two grifters team up to pull off the ultimate con.

Director: George Roy Hill
Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw
Ben-Hur (1959)
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd
Adventure | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and led the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.

Director: David Lean
Stars: Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Two Western bank/train robbers flee to Bolivia when the law gets too close.

Director: George Roy Hill
Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross
Certificate: GP Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A laid back Southern man is sentenced to two years in a rural prison, but refuses to conform.

Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Stars: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin
Die Hard (1988)
Action | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

Director: John McTiernan
Stars: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia
Papillon (1973)
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A man befriends a fellow criminal as the two of them begin serving their sentence on a dreadful prison island, which inspires the man to plot his escape.

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Stars: Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Victor Jory
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.

Director: Michael Cimino
Stars: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb
Unforgiven (1992)
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Retired Old West gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman
Platoon (1986)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A young soldier in Vietnam faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war and the duality of man.

Director: Oliver Stone
Stars: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Robert Graf ...
Werner 'The Ferret'
...
Edit

Storyline

Based on a true story, a group of allied escape artist-type prisoners-of-war (POWs) are all put in an 'escape proof' camp. Their leader decides to try to take out several hundred all at once. The first half of the film is played for comedy as the prisoners mostly outwit their jailers to dig the escape tunnel. The second half is high adventure as they use boats and trains and planes to get out of occupied Europe. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

What went into these few seconds ... The Hell...the heroism...the high adventure ... Make for the screen's great entertainment! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

| | | |

Release Date:

4 July 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran escape  »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$11,744,471, 31 December 1963
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Steve McQueen's character Hilts was based on amalgamation of several characters, including Major Dave Jones, a flight commander during Doolittle's Raid who made it to Europe and was shot down and captured and Colonel Jerry Sage, who was an OSS agent in the North African desert when he was captured. Col. Sage was able to don a flight jacket and pass as a flier otherwise he would have been executed as a spy. Another inspiration was probably Sqn Ldr Eric Foster who escaped no less than seven times from German prisoner-of-war camps. See more »

Goofs

When Mac delivers some stolen goods to Hendley he has already walked past an open window in a separate hut through which Hendley is clearly visible. See more »

Quotes

Von Luger: In the past four years the Reich has been forced to spend an enormous amount of time, energy, manpower and equipment hunting down escaping prisoner-of-war officers.
Ramsey: Well, at least it's rather nice to know you're wanted.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Twelve Monkeys (1995) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

If you're going to critique the history, then know the history.
31 January 2003 | by See all my reviews

I find it difficult to believe that some reviewers' negative reactions to this film are based on their (misguided) beliefs that none of this could possibly have happened. Comments like these make it crystal clear that what some people don't know about history is appalling. If you are going to judge a film based on historical fact, it helps if you know what it is.

It is well-documented what amazing technical feats the POW's were able to accomplish in the stalags. There was even an entire section of the British Secret Service dedicated to coming up with all sorts of clever ways to send these captured men the tools they needed to facilitate their escape attempts, i.e., sandwiching maps between the split sides of a record album (yes, the Germans allowed the prisoners to have records in the camps) or compasses in pens. At Colditz Castle, one of the more forbidding stalags, (actually an offlag since is was for officers only), many, many tunnels were dug and disguises created. One man actually created a German sergeant's uniform totally from scratch, donned a moustache and created an overall impersonation so realistic, it fooled two out of three sets of sentries. Some of the POW's built and concealed an entire glider that would have carried two men off the roof and over the wall! The only reason it didn't fly was because the prison was liberated before they got the chance! The Colditz experience is well documented. There are many books written about that particular prison complete with photographs, including one by a German officer confirming these amazing escapes and attempts. The reviewers who doubt what can be done when necessity is truly the mother of invention should look for them and learn something.

As for the prisoners not being in jumpsuits, as suggested by one reviewer as one reason to question the authenticity of the film? Ludicrous, POW's wore what they were captured in. The German military (different from the Gestapo and the SS) considered them soldiers and allowed them to keep their badges of rank.

As for the film itself, it is long, but absorbing. There are historical flaws (as there are in all movies), but several of the former POW's participated in the filming process, keeping it, for the most part, very authentic. As for the emphasis on Americans, it's true they were not among the escapees per se, but several did assist in the effort before they were transferred out, as mentioned by a previous reviewer. However, you must remember that the movie was made for an American audience in 1963, long before international distribution revenue became so important to a studio's bottom line. They needed American stars who would appeal to an American audience. Who knows, perhaps if they were to remake it today, the cast would be all British and German, but I doubt it (see "Hart's War" where not only the plot, but all the British and Canadian characters that were in the book, disappeared).

All in all, "The Great Escape" is an entertaining movie telling a fascinating story of what ordinary men can achieve in adverse circumstances. It's well worth the time.


98 of 106 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?
Review this title | See all 313 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

How to Wield a Lightsaber

Legendary sword choreographer Tim Weske teaches our "IMDb Show" Jedis the basics of lightsaber combat. Plus, we break down the origins of some iconic Star Wars creatures.

Watch now