3 Stars

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One of the most exciting adventure tales ever told, this action epic recounts the planning, execution, and aftermath of a daring true-life escape from a German prisoner-of-war camp during World War II, in which 250 men attempted to tunnel their way to freedom. In the role that cemented his superstar status, Steve McQueen plays the motorcycle-racing daredevil who sets out to foil the Nazis, alongside an all-star cast that also includes Charles Bronson, James Coburn, James Garner, and Donald Pleasence. The expert direction of John Sturges, eminently hummable Elmer Bernstein score, and rip-roaring stunts come together in what may just be the most spectacularly entertaining prison-break movie of all time, a rousing ode to the determination, camaraderie, and courage of everyday heroes.

FILM INFO

  • John Sturges
  • United States
  • 1963
  • 172 minutes
  • Color
  • 2.35:1
  • English
  • Spine #1027SPECIAL FEATURES
    • 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
    • Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray
    • Two audio commentaries, one from 1991, featuring director John Sturges and composer Elmer Bernstein; the other, from 2004, featuring actors James Coburn, James Garner, and Donald Pleasence
    • New interview with critic Michael Sragow
    • “The Great Escape”: Heroes Underground, a four-part 2001 documentary about the real-life escape from the Stalag Luft III prisoner-of-war camp during World War II, including interviews with POWs held there
    • The Real Virgil Hilts: A Man Called Jones, a 2001 program on the United States Army Air Forces pilot David Jones, the inspiration for Steve McQueen’s character in the film
    • Return to “The Great Escape,” a 1993 program featuring interviews with Coburn, Garner, actors David McCallum and Jud Taylor, stuntman Bud Ekins, and McQueen’s son, Chad McQueen
    • Trailer
    • PLUS: An essay by critic Sheila O’Malley

    New cover by Sean Phillips

    May 12, 2020

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Ronald Epstein

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Ronald Epstein

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Robert Crawford

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Robert Crawford

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It’s not my fault I was born already behind with so much to catch up on! :D
I was a little boy when my family took me to see this movie for the first time during its theatrical run. Truth be told I probably fell asleep for a time during that showing.;)
 

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I was a little boy when my family took me to see this movie for the first time during its theatrical run. Truth be told I probably fell asleep for a time during that showing.;)
“Are they still in prison? Wake me up when they’re breaking out!”
 
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Robert Crawford

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“Are they still in prison? Wake me up when they’re breaking out!”
Well, the movie was about three hours long which is rather long for a 2nd grader in 1963. Anyhow, it's one of my favorite all-time movies as they used to show this movie quite a bit on network TV during the later part of the decade when I was a little older. In high school, I actually read the book, the movie was based on. A great movie with an international cast that matched its greatness.
 

Robert Crawford

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By the way, I need to pull my Blu-ray out as I just watched the HD digital on iTunes up to when Hilts and Ives get placed in the "cooler" for the first time and it looks better than what I remembered the Blu-ray looking like. Perhaps, it's my imagination, but I'll try to compare the disc to the HD digital this weekend.
 

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One of the first laserdiscs I ever bought was the Criterion release and soon I will have this new one on my shelf too.
And that laserdisc was better in every way than the MGM laserdisc that followed shortly after, right down to the map of the camp you could amaze your friends with.
 

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For comparsions the trailer, Return to the Great Escape & The Real Virgil Hilts: A Man Called Jones are on the previous MGM/Fox blu-ray. That disc only has 1 commentary track but is labeled as by Director John Sturges, Cast & Crew(never listened to it). There's nothing called The Great Escape: Heroes Underground but that might contain some form of these featurettes found on the previous blu-ray: The Great Escape-Bringing Fact to Fiction; The Great Escape-Preparations for Freedom; The Great Escape-The Flight to Freedom; The Great Escape-A Standing Ovation; The Great Escape-The Untold Story & The Great Escape-The Untold Story Additional Interviews.
 

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Day 1!
 
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I’ve actually never seen this. I should, right?

Where’s the Rick Dalton intro? :D
Not seen The Great Escape! I believe that's illegal in some states (you might get off with a warning if you're under 40). I saw it in 1963 aged 12, & it's always been in my top ten of movies (other films come & go). It needs to look better than the MGM release, & (most importantly) released by Criterion UK. I thought the snippet used in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood looked a lot better than the MGM Blu-ray.
 
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nyguy2046

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I'm beyond thrilled to see Criterion taking on this title....
but seeing the announcement details that this is a one (1) disc blu ray release is concerning. They released Barry Lyndon on 2 discs (for blu) and really should do the same here. This is way too much content (including the lengthy film itself) to squeeze onto just one disc and have look good!
 

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I always enjoy the film when I watch it every two to three years. I guess its length is one reason I don't watch it more frequently, but it's hard to match its entertainment value at any length.
 

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A wonderful film on so many levels.
I am sure that Criterion will do justice to this great film.
Day 1 purchase for me.