“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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“1929: A Zimbell House Anthology” is Now Available for Pre-Order!

1929

From cover image for “1929: A Zimbell House Anthology”

I’ve been checking periodically, and the Zimbell House Publishing anthology 1929, which features my short story “The Devil’s Dilemma,” is now available for pre-order at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble for delivery March 26, 2019 (that’s for digital books, the paperbacks will take a little longer).

I’m really excited about this story since it’s one of my more ambitious projects.

Sixteen-year-old Timothy Quinn grew up in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, working as a “printer’s devil,” an apprentice in a newspaper print shop since age twelve. One day, the teen and would-be boxer starts hearing strange news announcements on the radio that seem to come from the future. Then he learns that in the next seven weeks, a ten-year-old girl will be kidnapped and murdered by a notorious serial killer. No one believes his wild tale, so he sets out to confront the killer himself, but will he succeed in saving the life of an innocent child only to sacrifice his own?

My story is one of only six appearing in “1929.” Be the first to buy, read, and review this unique anthology.

The Devil’s Day

calm

© Sue Vincent

Everybody calls me the Devil, and right now I wish I really was, because the only way I’m gonna save little 10-year-old Gracie Budd’s life is to stop a real Devil. Hard to believe, it being so quiet, green, and peaceful out here, but I ain’t got much time if I’m going to stop Albert Fish from killing and eating poor Gracie.

How the hell did I get myself in this mess? No, I didn’t do it. Maybe God did it. I don’t know. All I know is that I’m a 16-year-old printer’s devil named Timothy Patrick Quinn, and on April 13, 1928, I started hearing radio messages from the future.

One reason they call me “devil” is because that’s my job. I’m a printer’s devil, an apprentice in the print shop under old Shamus MacPherson at the New York Post. Been doing that since I was 12, mainly mixing tubs of ink and sorting metal type in the hellbox, putting those fit to be used again back in the job case, and melting down the broken bits.

Our foreman, Grady Owens brought a brand new All American Mohawk Lyric S50 radio right into the shop, saying it would help us boys pass the time a bit easier. Had to turn the sound way up on account of all the noise from the printers, but we got to hear berries tunes like “Cow Cow Blues,” “A Gay Caballero,” and “Sonny Boy.”

I could even hear it on the dock while having a smoke with the loaders and the colored Joes who swept up the place. Even the old truckers respected me on account of my bouts at Clancy’s Boxing Gym. I’ve always been big for my age, and ever since I was a tyke, I liked mixing it up with the guys.

I get over to Clancy’s whenever I can. He says I’ve got potential, says I fight hard enough to knock out the Devil himself, which is another reason they call me that. Turns out, though, I’d have to earn that name in a different way, even if it damn near killed me.

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Human Flagpoles

resolute

Circulated between 1974 and 1979, the two-dollar bill features Joseph Idlout and his relatives preparing their kayaks for a hunt. (Bank of Canada / National Currency Collection)

“But it’s so cold up here, Grandfather.” The nine-year-old huddled with the rest of his brothers and sisters around the aged Inuit in front of the fireplace in the family hut.

“I know, George, I know it’s much colder here than in Inukjuak, but we were starving there. The white government says they will help us.”

“By moving us and seven other families to this frozen wasteland, Father?” Joseph paced back and forth in frustration. “You know why they’re doing this, don’t you?”

“Please, Joseph. For the children’s sake.”

“They might as well know the truth, Father. The Canadian government is using us as human flagpoles, sticking us in Resolute to establish a far north dominance and rattle their sabers at the Soviets.”

“They’ve lied to us many times before, put us on their reservations, but we have always survived.” The old man’s voice was resolute. “We will survive this.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a wee tale no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Resolute, NU, Canada. Naturally, I relied on Wikipedia as my “quick and dirty” information source, but I had to read no further than the Settlement section to get my ‘hook.” It’s the sad tale of the High Arctic Relocation of “seven or eight families from Inukjuak, northern Quebec (then known as Port Harrison) first transported to Grise Fiord on the southern tip of Ellesmere Island and then to Resolute on Cornwallis Island” in August 1953. Click the link to learn more.

To find out even more about this dark time in Canadian history and why I titled my story “Human Flagpoles,” read ‘Human Flagpoles’: Dark story behind Inuit scene on $2 bill (which is where I got the image for my story) and Ottawa sorry for using Inuit as ‘human flagpoles’.

Read other stories based on the prompt by visiting InLinkz.com.

Ryazan

bombing

Building destroyed during the Russian apartment bombings – Found at Business Insider UK – No image credit available

Jonathan Cypher was atemporal, so when he found himself leaving the Eurythmics concert, he wasn’t sure where or when he was. Almost everyone around him was speaking German. There was a screenwriter talking about filming the group’s performance later in the year, a couple arguing about marriage, an aging academic expressing his opinion to his daughter about the industrial age and the role of the steam locomotive, and a misguided model disagreeing with a photographer about how women with rounded hips were not fashionable.

Stepping outside, he recognized the unique design of Cologne’s Kölnarena. “Of course. It’s the first concert in their Peacetour. It’s September 18th, 1999.” Then it hit him. “September 18th, 1999? I’m four days early. I’ve got to get to Ryazan.”

One of the three men carrying large, heavy sacks into the apartment complex basement had a lopsided smile. They’d left a lookout near their van to watch the main road.

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The Haunted Detective

san francisco 1947

San Francisco Chronicle Archives – From the back of the photo: “F Car goes through – The two months long blockade of the Fourth and Market intersection ended completely yesterday morning as F cars moved from Fourth Street across Market into Stockton. While police officers experimented with the new traffic pattern at the complex five-way intersection, workmen rolled down the last of the fill in the project. City officials hope the revised schedule will end one or more downtown bottlenecks.” September 9, 1947.

“I keep telling you this, Marguerite, but you never listen. You are just as breakable as the next person, maybe more so given your line of work.”

Private Investigator Margurite Carter was getting sick and tired of Cohen’s lectures. “Do I tell you how to stitch a cut, Sawbones? Just do your job. I haven’t got all night for you to fix up my broken wing. And what’s that crack about me being more breakable? I’m as tough as any guy in the business.”

“Tell that to your broken arm. It’s a good thing you’re left-handed. From the way you described the thug who jumped you, he must have had a hundred pounds on you. By the way, the name’s Dr. Cohen or Joel, not Sawbones.” The fatherly doctor tightened the binding a little too much on his thirty-year-old mouthy patient just to make his point.

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Waiting For Time to Pass (Expanded Version)

airport

flight-airport-airplane-plane-34631 pixel photo

I can barely see them inside because of the glare on the window, but they all look like ordinary people flying out or flying in. Ordinary people getting on with their lives, unlike me. In the window, I can see the reflection of the plane behind me, the luggage carts, the main terminal, everything out here except my own rather ordinary face. You see, I don’t have one yet.

I caught “CBS Sunday Morning” on the tube and saw the front page of “USA Today.” It’s Wednesday, 11 July 2018. If I can keep from losing my mind another ten years or so, I’ll be back, at least that’s my theory. I’m glad I’m the inventor and not a test pilot. One of them wouldn’t have a clue as to what happened.

Oh, my name is Ernie Pratt. Actually, Dr. Ernest Irving Pratt (no relation to the actor), Ph.D in Temporal Mechanics, though I never thought I’d be the one to invent a time machine, even by accident. I was working on the core of an experimental time-space drive that would manipulate a tertiary quantum realm, ultimately propelling a vessel faster than light.

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The Exiles

faroe islands

The Faroe Islands – Found at the Hand Luggage Only website – no photo credits available

“Have you ever wondered if we left anyone behind, husband?”

The man and woman stood at the edge of a magnificent rock formation, their backs to the lake behind them, and facing the open ocean a thousand feet below.

“Like us you mean, Tori? If we have, then we’ve visited a terrible curse upon the Earth. It is why we’ve retreated to these remote islands so long ago.”

“Look Bran. A ship.”

“It will not approach. Their leader will be known as Saint Brendan.”

“The mid-sixth century? Then our ending is mere decades away.”

“Yes, beloved. The alien virus which infected our wee village in Scotland centuries ago made us long-lived but not immortal. Our consciousness is aware of all human history, but we dare not share our infection with humanity.”

“I am content to be with you here in our exile, my love.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google maps image/location and use it as a prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 145.

Today, the Pegman takes us to the Faroe Islands, Kingdom of Denmark. Of course I did some research, and found that historians believe this remote group of islands located halfway between Norway and Iceland may have been inhabited in two periods before the arrival of the Norse, the first between 300 and 600 CE, and the second between 600 and 800 CE.

I also learned that Saint Brendan of Clonfert (484-577 CE) includes a description of insulae (islands) resembling the Faroe Islands in the chronicles of his journeys.

Since we know almost nothing of the pre-nordic inhabitants of the Faroe Islands, I decided to make up something fantastic. What if people in a remote northern village in Scotland were infected with a strange virus by alien visitors, giving them lifespans of centuries and the ability to know all of human history? Further, what if they’re infectious? Maybe they’d isolate themselves to prevent the rest of humanity from contracting their blessing and curse.

The distance between Scotland and the Faroe’s is roughly 620.73 km or 385.70 miles.

To read other (probably more grounded) tales based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Urartu

Taşlıçay

Taşlıçay, Ağrı, Turkey © Google Maps

He came to Taşlıçay after a snowstorm and entered Mehmet’s restaurant. The last customer had left and the proprietor had let his staff go early.

“We’re closing, Sir. I have nothing left to serve you.”

“I am not here to eat, Mehmet.” He spoke heavily-accented Turkish and appeared middle-eastern.

“What do you want?”

“To save your life. Great forces desire to take it.”

“You’re insane. Taşlıçay is a boring place. Nothing happens here.”

“After the great flood, elemental spirits, both good and evil claimed the area around Urartu and lay dormant. Tonight they rise from the temple on the hill and the höyük to the south. You are the last direct descendant of the ark, the last one who could prevent them from entering your world.”

“Who are you?”

The messenger of Hashem grew large and powerful, was armored in ethereal light, and drew a sword of silver. “They come.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps location and/or image as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Taşlıçay, Ağrı, Turkey. I looked it up and there’s not much going on in Taşlıçay either currently or historically, except for a few tiny details.

I leveraged the Facebook page for Things to do in Taslicay, which provided the restaurant setting. Going through the Google maps street images, I found the one posted above, which appealed to me since summer is approaching fast.

There’s a burial mound to the south of this rural town and both an Urartu temple and Armenian monastery on the hill above the village of Taşteker. Then I read:

Urartu, which corresponds to the biblical mountains of Ararat, is the name of a geographical region commonly used as the exonym for the Iron Age kingdom also known by the modern rendition of its endonym, the Kingdom of Van, centered around Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands.

Ararat is the legendary resting place for Noah’s Ark after the Great Flood of the Bible, so I thought I’d attempt to wrap all of that together into some sort of mystic tale of disaster and horror, all in 150 words. How did I do?

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Oh, and how are these locations chosen, anyway?

Spirits of the Canyon

palo duro night

Found at the Stars of Texas – milkyway timelapse project YouTube channel

“The stars are very beautiful Travis, but I still don’t understand what you expect us to see out here. I mean camping in Palo Duro Canyon under the Milky Way is a very romantic honeymoon, but…”

“Cassie, our ancestors lived here for thousands of years before being displaced, first by the Comanche and Kiowa, and then by the Army. This had been Apache land for ten, maybe fifteen thousand years.”

“I’m not an idiot and you didn’t bring me here to give me a first nations lecture.”

“No, I didn’t. My grandfather Chano says that you can still see them here on quiet nights. If we sit peacefully by the water, they’ll appear to us just as they were.”

“Who?”

“Our ancestors. You can kill our bodies, but the Great Spirit will always preserve us.”

“Look, Travis. You’re right.” Her brown eyes grew wide with wonder.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps location and/or street view as the inspiration for crafting a tale no more than 150 words long. My word count is 146.

Today, the Pegman takes us to The Big Cave, Palo Duro State Park in Texas. Palo Duro Canyon is breathtakingly beautiful and has a rich history which, apart from the appearance of spirits, I have faithfully represented in my wee story. Click the link I just provided to read more about it.

Oh, I borrowed the names of Travis and Cassie Fox from my homage to Andre Norton’s (Alice Norton’s) science fiction novel Galactic Derelict, but besides the names, this story has nothing to do with time or space travel.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.