BY CARMELA FERRO
Year Released: 1963
How It Fared Back Then: The Great Escape garnered great critical and public success upon its release. It was met with great enthusiasm and positive reviews and was already being dubbed a cinema classic. It was made with a budget of $4 million and ended up grossing $11,744,471 at the box office, becoming one of the highest grossing films of 1963, despite heavy competition. I would have to say it fared pretty well, especially considering the year was 1963.
Why It’s Lasted: Since its release, its audience has only grown and not only is it an incredible story, but it actually happened in real life. The film manages to take a true story of POWs carefully tunneling out of a WWII era camp and turn it into a full-blown action-adventure film. From Steve McQueen’s superstar performance, to the suspense and clever ploys and, to the awesome theme music, this film has cemented its status as a cinema classic.
Classic Moment: There are plenty of classic moments in this film, but the moment that really stands out is when the prisoners dispose of the dirt from the tunnel through their trousers right infront of the Nazis watchful eye. This moment is pretty cool on a personal level because a few years ago editor Emily and I had the privilege of interviewing a Canadian veteran, who was a POW in the very same camp. Although he didn’t make the great escape, he helped dispose of the dirt from the tunnels and made it home safely after the camp was rescued to live a long and happy life.
Does It Still Hold Up?: It’s a lengthy film, so many of today’s viewers might not be committed, but it’s well worth the watch. I think it stands on its own as an entertaining historical drama and a fairly accurate depiction of a brilliantly planned escape. In 2006, a poll in the UK asked viewers what film they would want to watch on Christmas Day, The Great Escape came in third, so I think it’s safe to say that it still holds up, even against Christmas movies on Christmas Day. It is highly regarded as a classic and one of the best World War II films, so I think it will hold up for a long time to come.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkwmIDx9RwQ]