Now this is a real throwback- 1963’s absolute classic war movie, THE GREAT ESCAPE. Directed by John Sturges (Ice Station Zebra, The Magnificent Seven, a lot of old movies basically!) we have the fabulously epic tale of how a couple of hundred British and American soldiers planned and attempted to escape a POW camp in the heart of Nazi territory. Based on a true story, the plot follows approximately 20 characters attempts to escape, using any method they can to disrupt the Nazi war machine.
The story behind each character and how they all try to escape is the real joy of this movie. The cast is the definitive ensemble cast of the 1960s with too many amazing actors to mention them all but they perform such brilliant roles. My favourite story is the one with Donald Pleasance (Halloween) and James Garner (TV’s The Rockford Files) because of the challenges they must face and the tragedy of their story.
This movie will probably put everyone into two camps (pun intended): those who have seen the film and seen it several times and those who have never seen it and have no intention of seeing it. But, and this is no exaggeration, this really is a movie that everyone can enjoy. My sister watched a large part of the film last Christmas (it’s the original Boxing Day Movie) and she enjoyed it quite a bit, and certainly more than she expected. It is quite literally a great escape from life and you can sit down, watch the film and get a real smile on your face. Some moments are tragic and beautifully handled but the filmmakers do not get bogged down in any harrowing tales. At the end of the day, the characters will be merrily going along with you and there is that iconic music to hum along too as well.
Like a lot of films from the past, it is pretty slow paced and they take their time allowing you to get to know every character. You feel for every character, but they do not do it quickly. For some people, this may put them off but it is all great fun and you never really get bored.
All in all, this movie is fun, patriotic and wonderful with tender moments but never anything too dramatic. Perhaps it is a little long in the tooth for some but you cannot deny its status as an absolute classic. Get watching!