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GREAT ESCAPE, THE (1968): DVD

SYNOPSIS:
In 1943 the most dangerous Allied POWs were sent to the maximum security camp, Stalag Luft North. Once assembled at the supposedly escape proof facility, prisoners including mastermind ‘Big X’ (Richard Attenborough), 'Cooler King' Hilts (Steve McQueen), 'The Scrounger' (James Garner) and 'The Forger' (Donald Pleasance) embark on a daring and dangerous bid for freedom. 

Review by Richard Kuipers:
The Great Escape may not be the best POW film ever made but 40 years on it can still claim to be one of the most entertaining. Admirers of Paul Brickhill's fact-based book and John Sturges' rousing screen adaptation will be in POW heaven as they sample the superb collection of extras offered in this DVD release that lives up to the Collector's Edition tag. 

Old fashioned even when it was made, this is a boisterous boys-own adventure from the moment Elmer Bernstein's familiar and much imitated score strikes up and a collection of hardened Allied prisoners are herded into the supposedly escape-proof Stalag Luft North. Most impressive of the testosterone-charged cast are Charles Bronson as Polish tunnel-digging chief Velinski, James Garner as 'Scrounger' Hendley, the supplies man and Steve McQueen, in the role that confirmed his stardom, as loose-cannon 'Cooler King' Hilts whose motorcycle escape bid is justifiably regarded as an all-time classic of action cinema. Australian audiences will cringe at James Coburn's attempt at an accent but that's about the only jarring note in 173 minutes of excitement, suspense and humour. Once you've enjoyed watching near-blind Donald Pleasance desperately trying to keep his place on the escape team and Gordon Jackson forgetting how to say 'thank you' in German, it's time to check out the exhaustive extras assembled by author, filmmaker and The Great Escape expert Steven J. Reubenhoffer. 

On the fantastic commentary track that features archival excerpts from long-dead players including Pleasance and director Sturges, Reubenhoffer proudly calls this his favourite film of all time and one look at the bonus chapters proves why. Everything about the movie itself and the real POWs on whom it's based is covered. Highlights include a terrific hour-long Granada TV documentary narrated by Derek Jacobi and a look at the real man who inspired the McQueen character. The Great Escape is one of those films everybody who loves cinema must watch at least once, even if war movies don't normally appeal. Now that this beautifully presented labour of love has hit the shelves there's no excuse.

Published June 13, 2002

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GREAT ESCAPE, THE (1968): DVD (M)
(US)

CAST: Steve McQueen, Donald Pleasance, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Richard Attenborough, James Garner, James Donald

DIRECTOR: John Sturges

RUNNING TIME: 172 min

SPECIAL FEATURES: SPECIAL FEATURES, 2 Disc Set. Audio Commentary with James Coburn, James Garner, John Sturges, Donald Pleasance, David McCallum, Production Designer Fernando Carrere, Author/Film Historian Steven J. Reubenhoffer, others. Documentary: The Great Escape - The Untold Story, Original Featurette - The Real Virgil Hilts, Photo Gallery, Featurettes Return to the Escape, Heroes Underground, Trivia Track. Language: English. Subtitles (feature only): Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, Turkish, English, English (H.O.H),

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: June 5, 2002







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