The Great Escape

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.

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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.

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.

Revealing mistake: When McQueen is jumping the fence on the motorcycle, it can clearly be seen the machine used for the jump is in fact a modern offroad model, with long travel suspension, in camouflage guise.

Revealing mistake: In the scene where the goons find 'Tom', the water that is poured down the hole is not steaming, even though the water burnt his hand.

Revealing mistake: The searchlights in the guard boxes which overlook the camp are arc lights (studio lights) and not search lights.

TrevorM

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.

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
More mistakes in The Great Escape

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

More quotes from The Great Escape

Trivia: The motorcycle used by Steve McQueen is the same motorcycle Henry Winkler used on "Happy Days."

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.

More questions & answers from The Great Escape

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