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The Great Escape

The Great Escape (1963; director: John Sturges) is a famous World War II film, based on a true story about Allied POWs with a record for escaping from POW camps. The Nazis and Gestapo place them in a new more secure German camp, from which they promptly form a plan to break out as many as 250 men.

The story was inspired by an actual escape from prison camp Stalag Luft III in 1944 (also filmed as The Password is Courage starring Dirk Bogarde in 1962). While the film condenses various aspects of time and place, a disclaimer claims it to be true to the original as much as possible. This includes all the real-life details of the plans, tunnels, successes and tragic outcome of the "great escape".

Featuring an all-star cast including Steve McQueen (whose motorcycle chase is the film's most remembered action scene), Richard Attenborough, James Coburn, James Garner, Charles Bronson, and Donald Pleasence The Great Escape is regarded as a classic. A made-for-television sequel appeared many years later, starring Christopher Reeve and, interestingly, Pleasence, this time as an SS villain. The film was spoofed in the animated Chicken Run (2000), and in 2003 it was announced that actor Jean-Claude van Damme wanted to do a remake. 2003 also saw the release of a video game based on the film for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox consoles.

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