The Great Escape

The Great Escape ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Cross it off the 'most embarrassed' list!

That this review contains spoilers warning portends something way more interesting than I've got... But is it wrong that I was actually somewhat happy to see Richard Attenborough and company get mercilessly gunned down by the Gestapo just so the Nazis would actually resemble, well, Nazis, and not a slightly gruffer "Hogan's Heroes" version of Nazis? That prisoner of war camp was more accommodating than a Super 8. Were 1963 audiences haunted at all by the horror of other German camps housing prisoners at the time GREAT ESCAPE takes place?

Still, they truly don't make 'em like this anymore. Runs almost three hours long but so finely tuned it doesn't have a noticeably wasted moment... The iconic Bernstein score... The overflowing international ensemble full of faces I was Googling afterwards to check what else I might have seen them in or what else they appeared in. Of course, McQueen gets the glory — and hey, he's Steve Effing McQueen — but Attenborough, Donald Pleasance and James Garner all deliver fuller performances. Wilder's STALAG 17 covers similar ground, and better for my money — though it's more character study than the sturdy, entertaining procedural ESCAPE is.