The Great Escape

The Luftwaffe are having a hard time looking after their RAF prisoners of war, so they build a new camp with high security to put 'All their rotten eggs in one basket' as the German commander says. Unfortunately this brings together the greatest escape artists around and they work together building three tunnels, hatching escape plans and forging documents in ingenious ways, each man with a different task led by Roger Bartlett (Richard Attenbourgh) to take 250 men out of the camp, the largest ever escape attempt. Meanwhile American Captain Hilts (Steve McQueen) tries other escape attempts which repeatedly end him up in solitary confinement, and heroically he finds local information out for the others then deliberately gets caught. One of the tunnels is found and the effort is put into one tunnel. On the night of the escape they find the tunnel is 20 feet short of the safety of the woods and slowly they get out avoiding the searchlights. However one man gets impatient waiting and goes out while a German is looking and gets caught - 76 men have already escaped. The escapees disperse in various ways and most get caught, including Bartlett and Hilts, but not before the latter has had a long motorbike chase. The Germans shoot 50 men including Bartlet and return several others including Hilts. The camp commander is also relieved of duty. Only three are seen to escape, the two tunnel diggers and the manufacturer. Based on a true story.

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.

More mistakes in The Great Escape

Col. Von Luger: Group Captain Ramsey, in the past four years the Reich has been forced to spend an enormous amount of time, energy, manpower and equipment hunting down prisoner of war officers.
Group Capt. Ramsey: At least it's rather nice to know you're wanted, isn't it?

More quotes from The Great 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.

It sounds like the last line from the German Officer is" Free to Go" in English.

Answer: I am German and just watched the movie. From memory the conversation went something like this: German guard talks in English and Bartlett responded in German "English? What are you thinking?" German guard: "Oh so you're German?" Bartlett: "Yes why! Of course I am German. What is the meaning of this? Threatening me with this pistol?" German guard: "Well all right then." And they leave him alone. Although his accent would have given him away, it's a lot less strong than most English people's German, but still noticeable.

More questions & answers from The Great Escape

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.