The Great Escape

Revealing mistake: When James Coburn and Charles Bronson are pretending to be Russian prisoners and attempting to walk out of the camp, if you look in the open windows of the huts in the background (past the men leaning out the windows), in several of the huts you can see that there is nothing inside, with wooden beams/braces visible to hold up the walls.

Visible crew/equipment: Late in the film, when the two escapees are boarding a bus, there's a studio lamp on a scissor-lift in plain sight at the left side of the screen. (02:37:00)

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

Factual error: As Steve McQueen is making his 'great escape', he drives his motorcycle through a gap which a chasing motorcycle and sidecar can't squeeze through, so it crashes. Cut to a crane shot of the retreating McQueen racing into the distance. Keep your eye on the left of frame and into view, on top of a building, is a distinctly un-1940s TV aerial. It's there for a full 7 seconds.

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)

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Visible crew/equipment: In the scene where the POW's are lined up outside the next day after the escape, several large movie lamps are visible on the left side (widescreen DVD version only - at 2:05:51 to 2:06:16 and again at 2:06:36 to 2:06:40). (02:05:50 - 02:06:35)

Chris in Texas

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.

Other mistake: Ramsay sports on his tunic the ribbons for the Distinguished Service Order, the Military Cross, either the 1914 or 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Unfortunately, the ribbon bar for the last three has been sewn onto his tunic upside-down - it reads, left to right as seen, VM, BWM, Star, when it should read Star, BWM, VM.

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."

Character mistake: When Werner asks Hendley why, as an American, he fights alongside Britain, he mentions that the British burned down the U.S. capital in 1812. While it happened during the War of 1812, the burning of Washington actually occurred in 1814. (00:11:10)

Cubs Fan

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

Suggested correction: The question was intended to demonstrate how far out-of-touch Werner was with United States history.

Charles Austin Miller

You misunderstand. Werner's question in and of itself is not the mistake; it's merely a point of contextual reference. The mistake is him giving the incorrect date of a historical event he claims to have read about; it's hard to believe that every book that he might have read on the topic are all wrong, so he must be remembering, and thus repeating it, incorrectly.

Cubs Fan

Audio problem: The sounds of the prisoners laughing and bantering about during the 4th of July moonshine scene is obviously a looped soundtrack as the same exact sounds and volume are heard at least four times during this scene.

Scott215

Character mistake: When Werner goes to see Hedley for helping finding his "lost" papers, Hedley is playing chess. The chess set is set up incorrectly. When the men are set up properly, each player has a light colored square in the right-hand corner. In the movie, the game is set up so that the light-colored square is in each player's left-hand corner. This "beginner" mistake puts the king and queen in the wrong positions.

Character mistake: When Sedgwick is bringing the cement tunnel lid to Willy, somebody yells out "Hey Hendley" and Sedgwick answers "Hello boys". He was called by the wrong name.

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)

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Revealing mistake: When Hilts is first locked in the cooler he turns to verify the door is locked. Apparently the set wall was so flimsy the stage hand seen on the left was required to hold the wall as Hilts pushed the door, to prevent it from moving. The stage hand looks like the German guard without his rifle.

Factual error: The entrance to tunnel Dick is shown improperly; the trap door was on the side of the drain basin, not the bottom. This was discussed in the Brickhill book, and subsequently verified by research on the site (shown on the US television program NOVA) which found the original door and its lifting handles.

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.

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

Trivia: While Steve McQueen performed most of his own stunts, the only stunt he didn't perform was the 60 foot jump over the Austrian-Swiss border fence. The jump was performed by stuntman Bud Ekins, who later doubled for McQueen in "Bullitt."

More trivia for The Great Escape

Question: How come Hilts could not answer the German at the end of the movie when he said he could speak German to Colonel von Luger?

Answer: He could have only known a small amount of German, enough to answer a question or two, but not enough to carry on a full conversation. Also, the German seemed to be wanting to have a full conversation with him. He was on the run and didn't have time to talk. He was most likely being a smart ass saying he knew German.

Answer: .And, just to add to the previous answer: even if he could speak conversational German, he would likely do so with a very strong American accent (as he does when he speaks the few words to the Commandant earlier), so the guard would have picked up on that right away, anyway.

More questions & answers from The Great Escape

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