What's new

A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Great Escape (Criterion) - in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

Archivist
Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 8, 1999
Messages
15,663
Real Name
Robert Harris
John Sturges' The Great Escape was a July 4th gift to cinema-lovers.

Based upon actual events, as lived by the author of the source book, Paul Brickhill, it's one of the finest, most stirring, and patriotic films concerning World War II.

It was filmed in Germany, in 1962, by cinematographer Daniel Fapp, whose career goes back to the silent era, and includes West Side Story.

A great plot, a decent cast (Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, James Donald, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, David McCallum, Gordon Jackson), and a reasonably memorable score by Elmer Bernstein round out the main attractions.

For those who've not experienced the film, Criterion's new Blu-ray is a wonderful way to get acquainted.

As to interesting factoids, legend has it, that Mr. McQueen had two roles in the film. In some sort of motorcycle chase sequence, it's said that he plays both his own role, as well as that of the German chasing him.

Per Criterion's notes, the image scan was harvested from both the OCN, as well as an IP.

Both image and audio are superb.

The track is surprisingly good in re-made stereo. The original 4-track is said to be lost. The new tracks are from dx, combined with a stereo M & E.


Image - 5

Audio - 5 (original monaural, re-made 5.1)

Pass / Fail - Pass

Upgrade from previous Blu-ray - yes

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Garysb

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2003
Messages
4,779
A great review for a film from the UA library. Will be getting this soon.
 

dana martin

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2003
Messages
5,254
Location
Norfolk, VA
Real Name
Dana Martin
will gladly replace my existing blu after that rave review, and when it arrives pair for a double feature showing with The Colditz Story, both films show the determination of service members, and the ingenuity it takes to escape from the inescapable.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PMF

Angelo Colombus

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2009
Messages
3,003
Location
Chicago Area
Real Name
Angelo Colombus
When i bought my first laserdisc player back in the 1990's one of the first lasers I ever rented from Blockbuster was the Criterion release of The Great Escape. I did buy the laser when it was on sale and still have it and will soon have this new Blu-ray on my shelf. Glad I did not buy the old Blu-ray because of the reviews.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PMF

Robert Crawford

Crawdaddy
Moderator
Patron
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 9, 1998
Messages
59,353
Location
Michigan
Real Name
Robert
I first viewed this movie as a little tyke during its theatrical run. It's been a personal favorite movie of mine ever since then and I even read the book in high school the movie was based on. I can't wait until my Criterion Blu-ray shows up. I'm still hoping that iTunes is able to upgrade their HD digital to 4K.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PMF

JoshZ

Screenwriter
Joined
May 26, 2012
Messages
1,315
Location
Boston
Real Name
Joshua Zyber
Per Criterion's notes, the image scan was harvested from both the OCN, as well as an IP.

Both image and audio are superb.

Were you able to compare with the older Blu-ray you reviewed here:


Is this a new/different master? Criterion's liner notes are often unclear as to whether some releases are newly scanned or based on existing masters.
 

Alan Tully

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2008
Messages
4,187
Location
London
Real Name
Alan
Ah, lovely. I saw it at the cinema in 1963, it was probably the longest film I'd ever seen at that point, but it's the kind of film that you just don't want to end. I don't think I could look at the MGM release anymore. I've pre-ordered it, my first region A disc (along with Blow-Up, a much different film from three years later).
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: PMF

Reggie W

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 31, 2004
Messages
8,976
Location
Agua Verde
Real Name
Pike Bishop
Honestly, this was a important bit of filmmaking for me. It represents everything that defines "movie magic" in my opinion. A tremendous story expertly told. Magnetic performances from outstanding actors that each get their chance to own the screen. Gorgeous photography and sets. You are utterly swept up into the whole affair and it is a pure joy to experience. My first viewings were all on TV as a boy. I watched it every time it was on...riveted. My first chance to see it on a big screen was during an outdoor showing in the 1980s. It was rather poor quality as I don't think optimizing how the film looked was part of what was important at the time. Just sitting on a blanket outside watching a great film under the stars was what mattered. I would watch it later on VHS, laser disc, then DVD, and finally the first Blu-ray release. Every time marveling at the story, how cool McQueen is (he literally defines cool in this film and really nobody else could come close), and getting sucked in every single time. I believe the film absolutely ruined me in terms of what my expectations for what a film could be after seeing it. I really thought this is what every filmmaker should be striving to do. It is a masterclass.

A funny aside. This picture did make me somewhat famous (or really infamous) as an elementary school student. So entranced by this film and Mr. McQueen was I that I planned my own "great escape" from elementary school. I was, I think, in 4th grade at the time. My classroom was on the third/top floor of the building. I was well known as a climber...climbing up and down everything in sight. When my parents purchased their first house they were horrified to suddenly hear a voice yelling to them from above and looking up discovering I was on the roof wandering about.

I put together a plan where in the middle of the day I would stash a climbing rope (which I stole from the school gym in the morning) behind the radiator in the third floor boy's bathroom. On my signal I and two of my friends would ask for bathroom passes in consecutive order to go to the bathroom. Once in the bathroom we tied the rope off to the radiator that sat conveniently beneath the window, opened the window, threw the rope out the window, and the three of us would take turns scaling down the outside of the building to make our escape.

It was a perfect plan with one exception. Also on the third floor jutting out from next to where that bathroom was, was the library with a full set of giant windows facing right at the bathroom window. There was of course a full class of students in the midst of library time at the very moment I climbed out the window and began scaling down, Adam West Batman style, the side of the brick building. Needless to say, one or more children in the library spotted me right off and they all rushed to the library windows screaming with excitement "Reggie is climbing down the side of the building!"

Teachers, librarians, and god knows who else rushed to the bathroom. I made it rapidly to the ground yelling up at my friends to quickly begin their climb down. My friend, Ruppy, a key factor in my plan because his house was on the same street as the school, made it out the window and was making his way down as I began to hear my other friend, Willie, screaming in the bathroom that "It wasn't my idea!" and then a teacher's head popped out the window. I yelled to Ruppy he had to hurry and that we needed to make a run for the woods and just as his feet hit pavement I saw the principal, our gym teacher and a custodian round the corner of the building running full speed at us. Thus began our frantic sprint to make it to the edge of the forest.

It was a truly thrilling moment for me as a boy, as I felt no fear, just complete excitement and that McQueen would have approved of this attempt.

Sadly, Ruppy was immediately caught by the back of his shirt. I made a couple fantastic moves briefly eluding the gym teacher, forcing much laughter from the large crowd observing this from above. However, due to causing what I assumed was some embarrassment for making the guy look silly trying to corral me, he dove at me tackling me hard and scraping me up pretty good. I thought at the time this was intentional on his part but internally I saw it as a victory as I had made him exert great effort in preventing my escape.

The end result of this was sort of historic as due to this little incident the town instituted a policy that all windows had to be chocked to only allow them to open 4 inches. I do recall nobody was happy about this, including me. The teachers in my elementary school lobbied to have me expelled for this. Truth was I had a long history of crazy behavior and trouble making as a child. However, my principal told them he would not permit me to be expelled. I was however pulled out of all classroom activities and spent my days sitting in his office reading and doing solo study and acting as his personal assistant. When he would make his rounds I went with him. If he was giving a talk, I stood next to him. He did, of course, ask me how I came up with the idea to tie a rope to the bathroom radiator and I said "The Cooler King" and he said "What?"

I said my favorite movie was The Great Escape and Steve McQueen was my favorite actor. He laughed long and loud at that. He was a wonderful guy and despite all the time I spent with him he was tremendously kind to me.

Many years later, I was in my early 40s, my wife (a teacher) was paid a visit by a guy that wanted to observe the program she had created. He mentioned the town he was from and she said that's where my husband grew up. He asked what my name was and she said "Oh no, he's in his 40s you won't remember him." but he said "No, tell me." and when she said my name he immediately blurted out my parents address and phone number. She was stunned and he said "Your husband is a legend."

He told her no stories of what I had done, said that should be left to me but said "Ask him why he spent nearly a year in my office." and smiled.
 

Jeffrey D

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2018
Messages
2,972
Real Name
Jeffrey D Hanawalt
Terrific news that Robert gives this release high grades. One of my all-time favorite films, and I
will definitely upgrade my MGM BluRay. Thanks, Robert!
 
  • Like
Reactions: PMF

Alan Tully

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2008
Messages
4,187
Location
London
Real Name
Alan
That's the question. As I recall, the belief was that MGM had done a 4k scan for the prior Blu-ray.

Yes but, what did they scan from for the 4K, & more importantly, what did they do with the scan? The harsh cold look of the MGM Blu-ray is just wrong (IMHO).
 
Last edited:

JoshZ

Screenwriter
Joined
May 26, 2012
Messages
1,315
Location
Boston
Real Name
Joshua Zyber
Yes but, what did they scan from for the 4K, & more importantly, what did they do with the scan? The harsh cold look of the MGM Blu-ray is just wrong (IMHO).

Which is why I'm asking. Criterion has a history of using the phrase "new master" loosely. Is it really new, or was it "new" seven years ago?

Looking at the prior thread, RAH also gave the MGM Blu-ray a positive review.
 

Paul Bosquet

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Apr 16, 2020
Messages
56
Real Name
Paul
PreOrdered this as soon as I heard about, really looking forward to enjoying this. Watched first time in the early 70’s on TV and read the book afterward and I’ve been hooked ever since.
 

Patrick McCart

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 16, 2001
Messages
8,041
Location
Georgia (the state)
Real Name
Patrick McCart
This was apparently handled similarly to Arrow's Robocop Blu-ray. Same base 4K transfer as the MGM release, but the cleanup and color grading re-done from scratch. I forget where it was mentioned, but Criterion used dye-transfer prints owned by Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino as reference for the color.

Looking forward to this as I could have sworn I had the MGM edition, but the last edition I owned was the 2-disc DVD.
 

Dave Blair

Agent
Joined
Sep 4, 2008
Messages
36
Real Name
David Blair
I read the book, saw the movie, bought the LP soundtrack, purchased the DVD and Blu-Ray read the book again, and soon I will buy yet another Blu-ray. Did I mention that I like the film?
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Forum Sponsors

Latest Articles

Forum statistics

Threads
351,410
Messages
4,952,570
Members
143,049
Latest member
cescobianchi
Recent bookmarks
0
Top