Buffy Martel

Written by Buffy Martel

Modified & Updated: 01 Jun 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

Source: Max.com

The Great Escape is a classic movie that has captivated audiences for decades. Released in 1963, this epic World War II film tells the incredible true story of a group of Allied prisoners of war and their daring escape from a high-security German prison camp. Directed by John Sturges, the film stars an ensemble cast of talented actors, including Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Richard Attenborough.

Featuring thrilling action sequences, heart-wrenching moments, and memorable characters, The Great Escape has become a cinematic masterpiece. Audiences have been drawn to the film’s depiction of courage, resilience, and the indomitable human spirit. In this article, we will dive into 37 fascinating facts about The Great Escape, shedding light on the behind-the-scenes details, trivia, and interesting tidbits that make this movie a true gem in the history of cinema.

Key Takeaways:

  • “The Great Escape” is a classic WWII movie featuring daring escape attempts by Allied prisoners of war. It showcases the resilience and resourcefulness of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
  • The Great Escape” features an iconic motorcycle chase, a star-studded cast, and a thrilling storyline based on true events. It offers a captivating blend of suspense, action, and heartfelt drama.
Table of Contents

The Great Escape was released in 1963.

The movie was directed by John Sturges and was based on a book of the same name written by Paul Brickhill.

It is a WWII epic film.

The Great Escape is set during World War II and depicts the true story of Allied prisoners of war attempting to escape a German POW camp.

Steve McQueen’s iconic motorcycle chase.

One of the most memorable scenes in the movie is the motorcycle chase sequence featuring Steve McQueen, who performed most of the stunts himself.

The film features a star-studded cast.

The Great Escape boasts an impressive ensemble cast including Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, and Donald Pleasence.

The movie was a box office success.

Upon its release, The Great Escape was a commercial hit, grossing over $11 million in the United States alone.

The screenplay was written by James Clavell and W.R. Burnett.

James Clavell and W.R. Burnett adapted Paul Brickhill’s book into a screenplay, capturing the tension and spirit of the POW escape attempts.

The iconic theme song, “The Great Escape March.”

The film’s memorable march was composed by Elmer Bernstein and has become synonymous with courageous escape attempts.

The movie was filmed in Germany.

The majority of the film was shot on location in Bavaria, Germany, giving it an authentic look and feel.

The real-life “Great Escape” took place in 1944.

The events that inspired the movie occurred in March 1944 at the Stalag Luft III POW camp in Sagan, Germany.

The movie received critical acclaim.

The Great Escape was praised by critics for its thrilling storyline, impressive performances, and attention to detail.

The character of Virgil Hilts (played by Steve McQueen) was based on a real POW.

Virgil Hilts’ character in the movie was inspired by the experiences of David M. Jones, a British RAF pilot who was held captive in Stalag Luft III.

The Great Escape was nominated for an Academy Award.

The film received a nomination for Best Film Editing at the 36th Academy Awards.

The underground tunnels were meticulously recreated.

The movie depicted the construction of three tunnels named Tom, Dick, and Harry, which were meticulously recreated for filming.

The motorcycle used by Steve McQueen was a Triumph TR6 Trophy.

Steve McQueen’s character famously rode a Triumph TR6 Trophy motorcycle during the chase sequence.

The film was based on true events.

The Great Escape is based on the real-life events of the POW escape from Stalag Luft III, although some aspects were fictionalized for dramatic effect.

Charles Bronson’s character, Danny Velinski, was fictional.

While many of the characters in the movie were based on real POWs, Danny Velinski was a fictional character created for the film.

The movie required extensive research.

The production team conducted extensive research and consulted with former POWs to ensure accuracy in depicting the escape attempts.

The film showcases the resilience of the POWs.

The Great Escape highlights the determination and resilience of the Allied prisoners in their pursuit of freedom.

The iconic line, “Cooler King.”

Steve McQueen’s character becomes known as the “Cooler King” due to his frequent confinement in the prison’s isolation cell.

The movie was shot in Panavision.

The Great Escape was filmed using Panavision cameras, which enhanced the visual scope and grandeur of the film.

The real-life escape attempt resulted in tragedy.

Although the movie depicts the escape attempts with a hopeful tone, the real-life Great Escape resulted in the execution of several prisoners by the Nazis.

The film tackles the themes of camaraderie and sacrifice.

The Great Escape explores the bonds formed between the prisoners and the sacrifices they are willing to make for each other.

The movie’s runtime is over two hours.

With a runtime of 172 minutes, The Great Escape offers a captivating and immersive cinematic experience.

The film features a variety of nationalities.

The POW camp in the movie houses prisoners from different countries, including the United States, Britain, Australia, and Canada, reflecting the international aspect of the war.

The Great Escape is considered a classic.

The film has achieved classic status over the years, captivating audiences with its gripping story and memorable characters.

The movie showcases ingenious escape methods.

The prisoners in The Great Escape use creative techniques such as forging documents, building underground tunnels, and creating diversionary tactics to plan their escape.

The film’s iconic poster features the famous motorcycle jump.

The poster for The Great Escape prominently features Steve McQueen’s character jumping over a barbed wire fence on his motorcycle.

The film’s duration reflects the intricate planning involved in the escape attempts.

With the complex planning and execution of the escape plans, the movie’s length allows for a detailed exploration of the prisoners’ efforts.

The Great Escape remains a popular choice for movie marathons.

Due to its iconic status and thrilling storyline, The Great Escape is often included in movie marathons and WWII-themed events.

The movie portrays German soldiers as both antagonists and human beings.

The film offers a nuanced portrayal of the German soldiers, showcasing their stoicism, discipline, and occasional cooperation with the prisoners.

The Great Escape inspired a TV series.

In the 2000s, a television series titled “The Great Escape” aired, loosely based on the events depicted in the film.

The film’s release led to increased interest in POW camps during WWII.

The release of The Great Escape sparked renewed interest in the history of POW camps and the experiences of prisoners during the war.

The cast bonded during the filming.

The cast members formed strong friendships during the production of The Great Escape, which helped enhance their on-screen chemistry.

The movie showcases the resourcefulness of the prisoners.

From creating hidden compartments in their clothing to forging identification papers, the prisoners demonstrate remarkable resourcefulness throughout the film.

The movie features a mix of suspense, action, and drama.

The Great Escape offers a perfect blend of suspenseful escape attempts, thrilling action sequences, and heartfelt drama.

The film is based on Paul Brickhill’s personal experiences.

Paul Brickhill, the author of the book The Great Escape, drew from his own experiences as a POW in writing the story.

The Great Escape showcases the indomitable human spirit.

Above all, The Great Escape is a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the desire for freedom, even in the face of adversity.


In conclusion, The Great Escape is an iconic movie that has captured the hearts of audiences for decades. With its thrilling storyline, memorable characters, and incredible attention to detail, it has solidified its place in cinematic history. Whether you are a fan of war movies or simply appreciate a well-crafted film, The Great Escape is definitely worth a watch. Its timeless themes of bravery, camaraderie, and determination continue to resonate with viewers around the world. So grab some popcorn, sit back, and immerse yourself in this unforgettable cinematic experience.


1. Is The Great Escape based on a true story?

Yes, The Great Escape is based on the real-life events that occurred during World War II. The movie depicts the daring escape of Allied prisoners from a high-security German POW camp.

2. Who directed The Great Escape?

The Great Escape was directed by John Sturges, who is known for his work in the western genre. He skillfully brought the story to life and created a masterpiece that has stood the test of time.

3. Who are some of the notable actors in the movie?

The Great Escape boasts an impressive ensemble cast, including Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, and Charles Bronson, among others. Each actor delivered a memorable performance, contributing to the overall success of the film.

4. What makes The Great Escape a must-watch movie?

The Great Escape combines elements of action, adventure, and drama to create a captivating and suspenseful narrative. The plot, based on a true story, keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, while the performances and direction elevate the film to greatness.

5. Is The Great Escape available to stream?

Yes, The Great Escape is available on various streaming platforms. You can easily enjoy this cinematic gem from the comfort of your own home and immerse yourself in its gripping storyline.

If you enjoyed learning about The Great Escape, why not explore more fascinating facts about classic movies like The Ghost and Mrs. Muir? For history buffs, our collection of World War II facts offers intriguing insights into this pivotal era. Those captivated by tales of daring escapes might find our article on prison break stories particularly thrilling. Discover a wealth of engaging content that caters to your interests and curiosity.

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