THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963)

Dir. John Sturges

A group of rising international stars and an action-packed, fact-based plot provide the selling points for this classic adventure film, whose recent restoration is making its world premiere at this year’s Festival. Producer-director John Sturges got the rights to Paul Brickhill's account of his work on a 1944 escape from a Nazi POW camp by promising to adhere to the real-life events, which no other producer would commit to. But though he kept the number of successful escapees down, he increased the U.S. presence and added more photogenic escapes by air and motorcycle. The latter was added at Steve McQueen's request and provided one of the film's highlights. Getting career boosts from the film were James Garner, Charles Bronson and James Coburn, while British actors Richard Attenborough, Donald Pleasence and David McCallum got their first major international exposure in what would become one of the biggest hits of its year. With superb action sequences and Elmer Bernstein's catchy theme, it remains a popular favorite.

In attendance: Walter Mirisch.

THE GREAT ESCAPE
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