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.

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: 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.

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

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.

More questions & answers from The Great Escape

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