The Great Escape

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.

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.

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)

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.

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

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

Continuity mistake: When Bartlett is on the run in the town a car containing Germans pulls up near him. Bartlett stops on the pavement but in the next shot he is standing in the middle of the road. (02:31:57)

Continuity mistake: When Hilts draws his gun to shoot at the motorbikes, he steadies his gun-holding hand with his other hand, but in the next shot, he is holding his hand in a different way. (02:14:05)

Blibbetyblip

The Great Escape mistake picture

Continuity mistake: The position of the propeller crank changes between when Hendley first hands it to Colin and when Colin begins to crank it.

Continuity mistake: When Willie is disguising the tunnel by mopping the floor and the Nazi comes in and bothers them, the way that Willie is holding the mop changes between shots. (00:44:10)

Blibbetyblip

Continuity mistake: When Henley attacks the guard at the airport, the back of his jacket gets wet from rolling around on the ground fighting the guard (there are puddles visible). Yet a few moments later, when he is walking towards the plane, his jacket is dry. (Visible in widescreen DVD version - 2:25:26 to 2:25:56). (02:25:25 - 02:25:55)

Chris in Texas

Continuity mistake: In the scene where Ives attempts to climb over the barbed wire fence, a long shot shows Ives in foreground and a line of men, including Hilts, in the background. In this shot, Hilts notices Ives and begins to run towards him. In the next shot, a close up of the line, we see Hilts still standing motionless, before noticing Ives and beginning to run towards him. Again.

Continuity mistake: While describing the escape process, Roger says that "Tom will run north from the 105." He is interrupted, then says, "as I said, Tom will run north from 104."

The Great Escape mistake picture

Continuity mistake: In the scene where Roger, Mac, Danny, and Willie are trying to figure out how to dispose of the dirt from the escape tunnels, Willie's motionless hand on the tabletop jumps from the supine position to the prone position between shots. (00:51:10)

Cubs Fan

Continuity mistake: After Hilts is dismissed from the cooler for the second time, he tells Bartlett about his escape plan, to which Bartlett replies, "Is Ives going with you?" After he says this, his hands change position in relation to his mug. (01:04:05)

Blibbetyblip

Continuity mistake: When Hendley and Blythe get into the German aircraft first, the cockpit is tiny and cramped, like you'd expect. However, when they cut to the studio-done flying scenes, it suddenly becomes much larger, nice and roomy.

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.

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

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.

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.

More mistakes in The Great Escape

Group Capt. Ramsey: Colonel Von Luger, it is the sworn duty of all officers to try to escape. If they can't, it is their sworn duty to cause the enemy to use an inordinate number of troops to guard them and their sworn duty to harass the enemy to the best of their ability.
Col. Von Luger: Yes I know. The men under your authority have been most successful. This man, Ahsley-Pitt for example. Caught in the North Sea, escaped, recaptured, escaped, recaptured. Archibald "Archie" Ives: 11 escape attempts. He even tried to jump out of the truck coming here. Dickes, William: known to have paticipated in the digging of 11 escape tunnels. Flight Lieutenant Willinski: four escape attempts. MacDonald: nine, Hendley, the American: five, Haynes: four, Sedgewick: seven. The list is almost endless. One man here has made 17 attempted escapes. Group Captain, this is close to insanity.
Group Capt. Ramsey: Quite.
Col. Von Luger: And it must stop!

More quotes from The Great Escape
More trivia for The Great Escape

Question: Why is Hilts the only prisoner out of the 11 or so who are returned to the camp after the great escape the *only* one to be sent to the Cooler? Shouldn't the other escapees be sent there, too?

Answer: The other escapees undoubtedly faced some sort of punishment - Hilts was singled out for the Cooler as he caused the most disruption while free.

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