The Great Escape

Factual error: Why is Hilts not wearing a uniform? A serving officer captured behind enemy lines in civilian clothing risked being shot as a spy. If a prisoner's uniform was too worn or damaged to wear, it was routine for the German authorities to replace it - a P.O.W. in civilian clothes is an obvious escape risk. He is wearing a pair of tan chinos, a cut off sloppy Joe sweatshirt, both ridiculously anachronistic - Sixties hipster fashions - and nowhere even close to a World War 2 uniform. He is also wearing Army Type III Service boots - something that would never have been issued to a fighter pilot.

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Suggested correction: The character of Hilts was based (in part) on the life of a British OSS agent who managed to pass as pilot by stealing a flight jacket (revealed in the DVD). We can only assume that since the Germans believed the camp was escape-proof, it didn't matter what Hilts was wearing, since he wouldn't be going anywhere.

Cobblers. Hilts is wearing casual clothing typical of the time the film was shot, not when it was set. No prisoner of war would be dressed the way he was. The posting is correct.

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I've always assumed that the actor, Steve McQueen, insisted on the outfit so he would look hip per his image. He had a reputation for being a prima donna on set.

Factual error: A convoy of open trucks arrive at the camp bringing the latest batch of prisoners, many of whom are carrying rucksacks and tote bags of clothing and other possessions. Where did they come from? Combat servicemen in World War Two did not carry overnight bags with them - a change of clothes or a handy supply of toiletries was the least of their concerns. A prisoner of war arrived in the camp with the clothes he stood up in and nothing else.

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Suggested correction: These prisoners were being transferred from other camps to this camp. As Big X said, "they are putting all their eggs in one basket." It's likely they are carrying possessions they've acquired during their time in captivity.

What "possessions"? Do you think they had Oxfam shops in POW camps during World War 2? They would be dressed in their combat fatigues and nothing else.

4

They would have possessions as they would receive parcels from home and Red Cross parcels.

They were universally known for their trading and scrounging abilities. Remember these were the "worst of the worst" in offending.

stiiggy

POWs acquired possessions by hand-making, scrounging, care packages, 'selling' watches and rings to guards or local civilians.

Agreed, there was always a bit of trading going on for little trinkets. As has happened in many wars.

Ssiscool Premium member

The Great Escape was from a POW camp specifically set up to hold trouble makers from other camps. Also, sometimes people expect to be captured and prepare to for it! Today, during funeral of John Lewis, speakers repeatedly mentioned that he was carrying a backpack with 2 books, an apple, an orange and a tooth brush. Which haven't been seen since his head was beat in. A least one German Fortress commander, sworn to defend his fort until he and all those under his command were dead, surrendered with multiple suit cases to make his incarceration more comfortable. Like the character Yossarian in Catch-22. [Spoiler alert: he makes elaborate preparations to the paddle in a life raft from Italy to Sweden.].

Factual error: Many of the prisoners are wearing watches, which is incorrect. Upon arrest a prisoner's watch was confiscated. This prevented them using them to bribe or barter with corrupt guards (and as this film acknowledges, there were plenty of those) as well as making coordination of meetings or escape plans difficult.

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Suggested correction: It is true that most prisoners had their watches confiscated when they were captured. However, British POWs could write to Rolex in Geneva through the International Red Cross requesting a watch. Rolex would supply one with an invoice to be paid at the end of the war. The watches sent were steel because gold watches would have been confiscated by the guards. At least some of the prisoners involved in the Great Escape had these watches. Corporal Nutting, one of the masterminds, requested and received an Oyster 3525 Chronograph - a more upmarket model than the ones favoured by most POWs, which he used to measure the frequency of German patrols. After the war he paid £15 for it. In 2007 this watch and the associated correspondence was sold at auction for £66,000.

Peter Harrison

They are not wearing Rolex watches and the newly arrived prisoners are all wearing watches, which would normally have been confiscated.

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No, they are not all wearing watches. Having watched the first half hour to check, the only definite watch I can see is being worn by Steve McQueen. I can't see enough of it to say definitively whether or not it matches the watches Rolex were sending. Many of the others are either definitely not wearing watches (Charles Bronson, for example) or, if they are, it is hidden by their clothes.

Peter Harrison

Character mistake: The scene in the outdoor Parisian cafe is incredibly daft. First, the cafe owners call James Coburn's bizarrely-accented Australian to the telephone to keep him out of the way as their accomplices assassinate three uniformed German officers seated in the cafe in a drive by shooting. They then toast the killings with cognac, and that is the mistake - not the shootings, not the luring away of Coburn - the mistake is that the cafe proprietors celebrate the assassination of the German officers in broad daylight, in the open, without even stopping to think that such an action would have them shot, because all of this is done in the direct view of passers-by in broad daylight. Do they think those three German officers were the only ones in Paris? How did they know Coburn wasn't an undercover Gestapo agent or a French collaborator? Don't they stop to consider that in an occupied city machine gun fire is going to draw some attention from the authorities, who might just wonder what a couple of bullet riddled corpses are doing lying about the place?

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Other mistake: When Hilts and Ives are taken down to the cooler for the very first time, just after arriving at the camp, watch the wall as the door is closed by the guard behind Ives - it very obviously moves as the door slams shut.

7

Factual error: When McQueen steals the motorbike from the German soldiers and rides off it is clearly a Triumph, a British make, not a BMW or Zundapp which was what the German army used. More to the point it looks like a 1960s model.

5

Continuity mistake: When Roger is in the van talking to Macdonald, his face is deliberately dirty and stubbled - but when they are about to shoot him, he is clean-shaven. similarly with his bruises which seem to magically disappear by the evening of the first day.

4

Visible crew/equipment: The first time Hilts (Steve McQueen) is locked up, you can clearly see the edge of the wall, and to the left a stage hand moving. (00:23:25)

Revealing mistake: Towards the end of the film, when Hilts (Steve McQueen) is in a motorcycle chase with the German guards, if you watch closely, when the camera cuts away from Hilts and to the German motorcyclists, you might be able to notice that one of the guards chasing McQueen IS actually McQueen! They used him to play one (or maybe more) of the guards because of the experience he had with motorcycles. This can also be seen in some behind the scenes footage on the DVD version of the film.

3

Continuity mistake: Check out the memorable scene when Hendley and Blythe, trying to reach Switzerland in a stolen training aircraft, fly over marvellous Castle Neuschwanstein. According to Hendley, they've almost made it, just 20 minutes of flight and one mountain range left to cross. This is quite funny because the Neuschwanstein shot reveals that they're actually flying straight in the wrong direction. The camera faces south, the plane moves from right to left, meaning they're heading east, straight away from the Swiss border which is just 50 kilometers west of the famous castle.

Visible crew/equipment: In the scene where everyone is lining up to receive the moonshine that the Americans made you can see a crew member on the left hand side. He is wearing a red baseball cap and modern clothes. He is motioning for the extras to go into the main shot to get the alcohol. (Widescreen edition).

The Great Escape mistake picture

Continuity mistake: In the end of the movie, Hilts (Steve McQueen) is returned to the camp - he is dirty and his shirt is torn. When he enters the cooler, after being tossed his baseball glove, he is clean and his shirt is no longer torn. (02:49:50)

1

Continuity mistake: In the scene in which the POWs are distributing the tunnel dirt over the compound, Hendley is leading a group of POWs in a soldier's march. In one shot, dirt is coming out from the bags inside their trousers, but their hands are visibly swinging back and forth; they can't be pulling the strings in their pockets to release the dirt. (00:53:50)

Cubs Fan

Continuity mistake: When Hendley and Blythe emergency-land their plane, it dashes into a copse. Both wings are cut off by trees and stay behind, while the fuselage runs on for several meters, finally coming to a halt with the tail facing down and the cockpit up. Next shot (pilots exiting the plane), the crash site looks very different: The tail now points into the air, cockpit down. And even worse, the wings have returned to the plane, I mean they are still cut off, but now positioned neatly on both sides of the fuselage instead of all those meters behind where you'd expect them.

1

Continuity mistake: When Blythe starts to lose his eye sight, he tests his eyes by closely examining the forged document. But the document he holds up is different from the document we see in the later shots.

thedoorman

Continuity mistake: In the scene where Steve McQueen is pulling wire across the road, and attaching the end to the pole to trip up the motorcycle rider you can clearly see two shadows on the ground of Steve in opposite directions due to the camera lights.

Continuity mistake: After Ramsay, Bartlett and MacDonald drink the American moonshine, Ramsay's collar and neck change between shots. (01:20:30)

Blibbetyblip
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Continuity mistake: When Hilts and Ives are put back in the cooler after their first escape attempt, the dirt on their faces in the corridor outside their cells doesn't show up in the same places when they are actually in their cells.

Continuity mistake: Just after Ashley-Pitt has worked out how to hide the dirt, we see Ramsay raking the dirt and Bartlett and MacDonald walk out from behind a building and look at him, but in the next shot, Bartlett and MacDonald are looking at each other.

Blibbetyblip
1

Plot hole: Roger's initial briefing at the beginning of the film states that 'Tom' goes out from 104 and 'Harry' from 105. Despite this the goons are said to be in 105 when they find the entrance to Tom.

Colonel Von Luger: Are all American officers so ill-mannered?
Hilts: Yeah, about ninety-nine percent.

More quotes from The Great Escape

Trivia: Paul Brickhill, who wrote the novel the film is based on, was a member of the X organization which planned the escape.

More trivia for The Great Escape

Question: At the scene where Bartlett is running away from the pursuing Germans in the town, a car stops him. Bartlett says something in a foreign language to the German who steps out the car which makes the Germans drive away. Could someone please tell me what is said in the Bartlett/German conversation and what language does Bartlett speak in.

Answer: It's German, although I can't quite make it all out. The Germans tell him to stop (sounds like one says "hey you" in English). He asks what this is all about and, in English, the soldier accuses him of being English. Bartlett acts offended at the idea, and at being threatened with a pistol. The soldier then asks if he's German, he says something in the affirmative, and the soldiers apologize as they climb back in the car.

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