“The Great Escape” (1963): Why This Film Couldn’t Be Made Today

escape

Promotional poster for the 1963 film “The Great Escape”

This movie is firmly listed under “films we couldn’t make today” or “films we couldn’t make today unless we included a lot more diversity.”

The Great Escape (1963) is one of my all time favorite films. It features an all-star cast which includes Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, among many, many others. The film is based on a 1950 non-fiction book written by Paul Brickhill chronicling a firsthand account of the mass escape by British Commonwealth prisoners of war from German POW camp Stalag Luft III in Sagan (now Żagań, Poland).

The film is a highly fictionalized version of those events and made numerous compromises which departed from fact, including the addition of three Americans to the cast (McQueen, Garner, and Judson Taylor) to accommodate U.S. audiences.

Here’s the plot summary from imdb:

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Let it Bleed: The Diversity Wedding

Berkeley, CA

Downtown Berkeley. The Oakland – San Francisco Bay Bridge and the San Francisco downtown can be seen in the background – Found at Wikipedia

She sat there drinking her tenth cup of coffee while watching the sunrise’s sickly yellow light piercing her kitchen window.

“Why did this have to happen to me?”

Rosie stood up leaving the remains of her breakfast on the table and walked down the hall to use the bathroom for what seemed to be the thousandth time. She normally limited herself to two cups of Sumatra in the morning plus a cup of Pike Place Roast from the Starbucks drive-thru on her way to work, so the bottom of her stomach felt like it had been drowned in battery acid.

Last night she couldn’t sleep. Her gray thoughts anticipating the next day refused to allow her mind to rest. She must have dozed here and there, but now sitting on the toilet, she felt like 120 pounds of steel wool and boiled inner tube. Maybe a shower would help. She had to be at the church before noon and her parents would be pissed if she showed up looking like a drugged out refugee from an all-night rave.

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