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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