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The Great Escape. Made in 1963 Directed by John Sturges Directed “The Magnificent Seven” Written by James Clavell Won Emmy for “Shogun” mini-series Steve McQueen stars as Capt. Hilts “Cooler King” Starred in the original “Thomas Crown Affair”
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Made in 1963 • Directed by John Sturges • Directed “The Magnificent Seven” • Written by James Clavell • Won Emmy for “Shogun” mini-series • Steve McQueen stars as Capt. Hilts “Cooler King” • Starred in the original “Thomas Crown Affair” • James Garner stars as Flight Lt. Hendley “Scrounger” • Starred in “Space Cowboys” • Richard Attenborough stars as “Big X” • Won 2 Oscars for “Ghandi” (Dir., Pic.)
Charles Bronson stars as “Tunnel King” • Best known for “Death Wish” series of films • James Coburn stars as “Forger” • Won Oscar for “Affliction” in 1997 • Paul Brickhill wrote book based on events that actually occurred to him when he got shot down over Tunisia in his Spitfire. • Shot on location entirely in Europe. • Camp built outside of Munich • Got permission from German government to shoot in the forest nearby Munich. • Had to replant over 2000 pine trees
McQueen was allowed to ride as the chasing German soldiers in cognito in the final scene and then edited in so in actuality he is chasing himself. • Several cast members were actual POW’s • Donald Pleasance held in German camp, Hannes Messemer held in a Russian camp, and Til Kiwe and Hanz Reiser held in American camps. • Bronson had been a coal miner before the film. • He actually did suffer from Claustrophobia • Motorcycle scenes suggested by McQueen • The real life “Tunnel King” served as a technical advisor on the film. • Actual escape involved 600 men working for a year.
Real life escape was on March 24, 1944 and ground was snow covered. • McQueen was born on March 24th • McQueen only accepted the role if he could show off his motorcycle skills. • McQueen held up production so that more could be written for his character to do. • The Commandant was actually taken away for involvement in a Black Market operation. • Hilts based on Major Dave Jones and Colonel Jerry Sage and possibly Sqn. Ldr. Eric Foster. • Jones – Flight commander shot down and captured • Sage – Captured in North African Desert disguised as a pilot. • Foster – POW who escaped no less than seven times from German POW camps.
Garner created his character based on his own experiences in the Korean War. • When Goff jumps up in response to Hilts “No taxation without representation”, he adlibs his response because the line wasn’t in the script. • Pleasance offered his opinions on POW camps after his own experiences in them and was asked by the director to keep his opinions to himself. • Sturges wasn’t aware of Pleasance POW experience and afterwards asked him to be a technical advisor.
Bronson fell in love with McCallum’s wife Jill Ireland during shoot. • After filming Ireland divorced McCallum and married Bronson later. • The actual shooting of the recaptured escapees was one of the charges at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trial. • The barbed wire that Hilts hits was actually made of rubber. • Whenever in the film a fellow POW wishes an escapee “Good Luck” the escape fails.