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181 of 194 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where Was This Film On The AFI List?
The Great Escape certainly didn't get its due when it was released -- it wasn't even nominated for Best Picture, Director or any of the Acting awards. In fact, it was only nominated for Film Editing! It seems, however, that the film doesn't even get its proper due today as it was not on the American Film Institute's 100 Greatest Film list despite its large...
Published on April 28, 2000 by Michael K. Beusch

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76 of 82 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars TGE BluRay - The Good, The Bad and The Questionable
I received my Blu Ray copy of this classic film today, May 6, one day before the actual release day of May 7. Thank you, amazon!

I'd also mention that I pre-ordered this BD with Amazon's price guarantee. I noticed that the BD was put on sale yesterday morning at amazon for only $9.99, which was less than the $14.99 I had paid on pre-order. I assumed I would get...
Published 19 months ago by Mark E. Stenroos


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181 of 194 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where Was This Film On The AFI List?, April 28, 2000
By 
Michael K. Beusch (San Mateo, California United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Great Escape (DVD)
The Great Escape certainly didn't get its due when it was released -- it wasn't even nominated for Best Picture, Director or any of the Acting awards. In fact, it was only nominated for Film Editing! It seems, however, that the film doesn't even get its proper due today as it was not on the American Film Institute's 100 Greatest Film list despite its large following.
The Great Escape is certainly one of the most memorable films I've ever seen. The cast includes the late great Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough (Director of Gandhi), Charles Bronson, James Coburn, James Donald (Bridge on the River Kwai), Donald Pleasance and David McCallum (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.). McQueen's performance is riveting and makes the viewer miss him all the more. Garner, who actually was a "Scrounger" during the Korean War, is terrific. It's also particularly nice to see a performance as a good guy from Pleasance and as a human being by Bronson (sorry, but Bronson truly wasted his talent in the Death Wish movies). And in an era when studios tried to substitute backlot sets for on location filming, the POW camp, which was built on location in Germany, looks completely authentic and makes the audience sympathize with the prisoners' plight even more. The DVD heightens the experience by presenting the film letterboxed in clear, vibrant colors. In addition, the DVD edition includes a documentary on both the real story and the making of the film. This film is a classic and the DVD edition does it great justice and makes you realize what a mistake the AFI made by excluding it from its list.
Here's to "the fifty."
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72 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rip Roaring Entertainment That Holds The Test Of Time, January 11, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Great Escape (DVD)
I saw The Great Escape in the fall of 1963 when I was 8 years old. In my hometown during those days moviegoing was a family affair-- wear nice slacks and shirt etc. Seeing this grand movie with the macho stars on a big screen with booming sound made quite an impression on me. Steve McQueen was simply the "King Of Cool" and he became my favorite film star.
This movie has transcended generations -- my 18 year old son recently viewed it and he was totally engrossed in this fantastic true story of men seeking freedom under the most desperate circumstances. He agreed with me that "they don't make em like they used to" and that most of the films today can't hold a candle to The Great Escape.
The DVD is superb -- the color and picture quality is first rate -- looks just like when I saw it in the fall of 1963 at the old Capitol Theatre in Rome, NY. The featurette on the making of The Great Escape is a nice feature that I never saw before.
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76 of 82 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars TGE BluRay - The Good, The Bad and The Questionable, May 6, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Great Escape [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I received my Blu Ray copy of this classic film today, May 6, one day before the actual release day of May 7. Thank you, amazon!

I'd also mention that I pre-ordered this BD with Amazon's price guarantee. I noticed that the BD was put on sale yesterday morning at amazon for only $9.99, which was less than the $14.99 I had paid on pre-order. I assumed I would get the lower price, but when my BD shipped last night, it was at the higher price. I dashed off an e-mail to amazon's customer service last night, and by this morning, I had a response AND a credit of $6.71 toward my Visa card to give me the lower price of $9.99! Thank you AGAIN, amazon! Now, THAT'S customer service!

Props to amazon duly noted, on to the review:

I've now watched the BD of the film twice, and I find myself largely in agreement with the review that is up at Bluray.com. The soundtrack sounds very good, especially for a 50-year-old film. The music comes through powerfully, especially the bass end, which is smooth, not boomy. Dialogue is crisp and clear, which makes for a nice listening experience.

That's the good.

The bad - unfortunately - has to do with the picture quality. The opening credit shot is really excellent, and it got my hopes up that Fox had done a good job of cleaning up the film and sharpening the picture. Things continue in fine fettle as we reach the prison camp, with the opening scenes at the camp looking sharp. The initial scene of Hilts and Ives (The Mole) in the cooler looks good as well - I had forgotten about their extended dialogue in this opening scene in the cooler (is this scene sometimes cut when shown on TV?).

As the film progresses, the picture quality varies, most often being not much better than that which was on the DVD. The worst scene picture-quality-wise has to be the exterior footage in the 4th of July scene, where the prisoners imbibe in some moonshine and the "Tom" tunnel is discovered by the German guard, Werner. The interior shots in this scene are much crisper than the exterior shots, no doubt because they were shot on the sound stage while the exteriors obviously were not. The exterior shots are almost blurry at some points, at least to the extent that a Blu Ray image can be blurry. Perhaps this is an accurate representation of what was shot by John Sturges, but I'm not convinced. I had really hoped for something a bit better.

I'm no expert, but it looks to me like DNR has been used in the BD mastering of this film. I say that because the faces just don't have the kind of detail and rawness that one sees in the best 4K and 6K restorations. The faces aren't as washed out and waxy as I've seen on some BDs, but the detail just isn't there.

The above noted, the picture throughout the movie is still steadier, crisper and clearer than it was in the VHS and DVD versions, at least the ones I've owned (I never owned the 2-DVD CE). Maybe this is the best we can hope for in this age of BDs being shoved out the door ASAP before the hardcopy industry collapses and online/streaming video takes over. I just expected higher and more consistent picture quality for this 50th-Anniversary, initial BD release of this very popular film.

And so, the questions arise: why wasn't a major restoration done on this film? Why was DNR employed when I thought we'd gotten beyond that? Will the Steelbook version due out in June be any better visually than this just-released Blu Ray? The answers to those three questions are, sadly, 1. major restorations are very expensive; 2. if you're not going to do a real restoration, DNR is a cheap substitute that won't bother most people, and; 3. the Steelbook version will probably include this same BD.

As far as the extras on this BD, they're the same extras that were on the DVD, all 8 of them. One wishes that Fox had put the extras on a separate DVD and used the entire 50GBs of the dual-layer BD to allow more information for the movie itself. But I guess they didn't have to do that as they used DNR in the mastering process and didn't really have extra data to eat up the storage space on the BD.

One final note about the menus: the BD boots up and immediately goes right into playing the film. I prefer that over the endless previews that are loaded onto many BDs and DVDs - who is going to watch those previews once a BD is a few years old? The menus for the "extras" are all accessed while the film is starting to play, which feels sorta cheap. If one wants to back out of an extra, you're sent back to the film to access any other extras. It gives me more appreciation for the sophisticated menus one gets on, say, Disney product. But then, there aren't many Disney products around that get discounted to under $10.

I can muster only three stars for the BluRay of this classic movie: 4.5 stars for the big improvement in the soundtrack, mitigated by the visual issues noted above.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars GREAT ESCAPE - TRANSFER, A MODEST IMPROVEMENT!, May 18, 2004
By 
Nix Pix (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
"The Great Escape" is a WWII story about a group of POW's trying to escape from a German concentration camp. It stars Steve McQueen is Virgil Hilts, a American prisoner who delights in tormenting his Nazi captors with the prospect that one day he will successfully escape from their strong hold. Of course, his attempts result in his being placed in solitary confinement throughout the film. But escape plans really get underway when Big X (Richard Attenborough)plans to dig three escape tunnels under the camp. Although this plan of action is successful at temporarily outsmarting the Nazis, but with a victory that is short lived, the outstanding sequence in the film remains McQueen's electric cross-country chase on a motorcycle. James Garder, Donald Pleasance, James Coburn and Charles Bronson round out the stellar cast.
THE TRANSFER: : Time has not been kind to the film elements. Although this 2-disc special edition DVD is anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions, thereby improving the over all resolution of the image, colors remain pasty and dated throughout most of the film. Flesh tones are either an unnatural looking orange or overly pink. Outdoor scenes often suffer from a muddy color scheme in which greens, browns, blacks and grays become undistiguished and filtered through a sort of milky haze. As a result, definition and fine details often suffer. There is considerable film grain present during the outdoor scenes as well as some age related artifacts. Edge enhancement is present in some of the wire and mesh detailing of the camp. Blacks are not very deep or solid. Whites are rather grayish for the most part. Truly, this is a just barely middle of the road visual presentation. The audio has been remixed to 5.1 but the dialogue remains hollow and strident sounding. The music has a better spread but it too seems to lack in tonal bass.
EXTRAS: Some very fine short featurettes narrated by Burt Reynolds that (for the life of me) I can't figure out, why they weren't woven into one comprehensive documentary. There's also another 60 min. documentary that was previously available on the non-anamorphic DVD release. Some theatrical trailers, a stills gallery and an audio commentary round out the extras.
BOTTOM LINE: "The Great Escape" is a genuine classic and it comes highly recommended. But the transfer remains something of a disappointment, although it is a marked improvement over the original DVD release.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Film from the Excellent Paul Brickhill Book, November 6, 2000
This review is from: The Great Escape [VHS] (VHS Tape)
"The Great Escape" is director John Sturges' brilliant film presentation of the absorbing Paul Brickhill Book. John Sturges effectively retells the story from the script by James Clavell and W.R. Burnett, which is a condensation of events and people taken from the book. The film deals with the lives and efforts of the Allied POW's to escape from a German prison camp. We do not see John Sturges take any side in this film. Only near the end of the film does he begin to make a political statement on Nazism and its effect on traditional German military ethics and the lives of the captured Allies. Sturges' focus is more on the men caught in war and its effects on them. We see the men rely on dormant qualities they never knew existed until they put on a uniform and were captured and held in foreign territory. We see men going to extreme lengths to escape because of their inborn right to be free. This is represented by Steve McQueen's character Hilts otherwise known as the "Cooler King," Charles Bronson as Danny and Angus Lennie as Ives the "The Mole." We see other men going to equal lengths to escape and cause havoc behind enemy lines by diverting German troops from the front to recapture them. This is the main purpose of the escape and Richard Attenborough as the "Big X" orchestrates the overall plan. He calls upon every expertise of the prisoners to reach this one goal. He calls upon tailors, forgers, scroungers, tinkers, and engineers, just about anyone capable of getting the job done. These are portrayed by James Garner, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, David McCallum, John Leyton, Gordon Jackson, Tom Adams, Nigel Stock and others.
For years this was considered a great World War II action adventure film, but John Sturges' reaches far above that mundane distinction. His style and ease of direction glosses over his own profound statements that he makes in this film. For example, James Garner cleverly befriends a German guard for the sole purpose of stealing his wallet so he can extort a 35-mm. camera and film from the guard. On the surface the audience is very amused at Garner's sly tactics, after all the Germans are the bad guys. However, subconsciously Sturges gave us enough personal information about the guard that we almost feel sympathy for him. This is reinforced by Sturges' choice of James Garner, one of the most likable actors in Hollywood, to perpetrate the deception on the unknowing guard. How can a nice guy like James Garner do this? As it works out Sturges lets the guard redeem himself. It is this guard that discovers the first tunnel when he spills some coffee on the floor and it disappears through the cracks. Now you the viewer are faced with a moral dilemma. Do I still feel sympathy for the guard? Do I still think that James Garner is a scoundrel? Or do I think that in war I have to do what is necessary? Garner's character did what he had to do and so did the guard.
Editor Ferris Webster did an excellent job of putting this complex story together giving it coherence and drive yet never sacrificing any of the wonderful characterizations that is the backbone of this film. Daniel Fapp's cinematography brilliantly gives us a feeling of claustrophobia while in the prison camp. Once the escape begins he gives us panoramas of landscapes which have a dual symbolism. On one emotional hand we are free and the far-off horizons elusively symbolize that freedom. On the other rational hand we know that we are still not free and the vastness of those landscapes only strengthens the reality that ultimate escape and freedom is improbable for the majority of the escapees. Composer Elmer Bernstein also has more to say than meets the ear. This film contains one of his two most recognizable themes in cinema history (The Magnificent Seven being the other) but that is an understatement. His main title theme is as much a tribute to the prisoners in this story as it is to all men who must overcome the odds through their own perseverance and unwillingness to bend to defeat to whatever noble end they strive for. Bernstein's complex score complements the theme by giving us passages and statements on the diversity of the individuals as well as their singular overall objective. Once "on the road" the music reaches exhilarating proportions unlike that of traditional action Hollywood scoring. Bernstein wants to put the audience through the same suspense and anticipation that the escapees feel and then unleashes our pent up emotions in a crescendo of rousing orchestrations that has us cheering them on. This was the same brilliant technique he employed in "The Magnificent Seven." I don't think many people give Elmer Berstein the credit for being the musical innovator that he was back in that period in his career.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good performances, very interesting and entertaining, September 18, 2001
By 
Craig MACKINNON (Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Great Escape (DVD)
This is one of the all-time classic war movies. The story of how the Nazis put "all the bad eggs in one basket": they built a special camp in which they incarcerated the Allied pilots shot down over occupied Europe who had made escape attempts from other camps. Filmed on location in Germany (although the real-life camp was in Poland), the film has an authentic feel, with quaint German cottages and the foothills of the Alps rising in the background. Add in the plethora of nationalities (there are American, English, Scottish, Polish, Aussie, and Canadian prisoners among the inmates, all with authentic accents), the well-researched uniforms and camp layout, and some great cinematography, and you have a classic WWII film that stands the test of time.
The performances are outstanding. Notable examples are James Gardner as a scounger and Charles Bronson (virtually unrecognisable) as the tunnelling expert. The big name (at the time) is, of course, Steve McQueen, here his usual brash self, fleeing a German squad on a merry motorcycle chase in one of the movie's most famous scenes. More interesting for me, however, is the care the actors, directors, and screenwriters took to set up the escape - we are brought through the division of labour in the camp, the problems that must be overcome (such as incompatible dirt colours), and the clautrophobia of digging. (This seems to be proof that 10 screenwriters can occasionally produce a good movie, in spite of Roger Ebert's "law" that quality of a screenplay is inversely proportional to the number of people working on it.) Finally, the musical score is rousing, sombre, or lighthearted when called for. It might be a little overbearing, but no more so than in The Empire Strikes Back, for instance.
The DVD quality is low, hence the 4-star rating I'm giving to the movie in this format. The picture quality is okay - clear and crisp, but the sound is not particularly good. Why is it that video is always cleaned up so much better than sound? There are few extras on the DVD, but the "Making of" featurette contains a lot of information in its 24 minutes. For example, James Garner reveals how he was a scrounger in real life for his unit in Korea, the cinematographer talks about scouting locations, building sets, etc. One of the most useful featurettes I've seen.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking Good, May 8, 2013
This review is from: The Great Escape [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I watched some of the Blu Ray and compared it to the 2 disk DVD set. All I can say is wow. The colors looked great on the Blu Ray.

The buildings are wood color on the Blu Ray, on the 2 disk DVD, they almost looked yellow.

The sound, DTS-HD Master 5.1, much better than the 2 disk DVD set, which is Mono.

I have not looked at the special features, but it looks all of the special features from the 2 disk DVD set is on the Blu-Ray.

I hope this helps you out.

**Update**

On the Blu Ray, there were some scenes that were filmed with a filter, those were not as clear as the rest of the film. The Blu Ray was so much better than the DVD.

This film I have owned from VHS, DVD, to the 2 disk DVD and now the Blu-Ray.

When I posted my review, Amazon did not have very much informtion about the Blu-Ray.

I feel that this is a worthy upgrade.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is The Great Escape Edition to Own, October 22, 2006
By 
M "ireland19" (Lighthouse Pt, FL United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have rented this film several times. Unfortunately the rental companies such as Netflix don't always have this great latest edition. There will never be another film such as The Great Escape. It would be a mistake to even try. Actually shot in Germany with an international cast. A cast of stars such as never have been seen in one motion picture. Especially of interest to me was the extras. Many of the cast members have passed away since this edition was put out That there words are on this DVD is a much appreciated plus..

Almost as interesting as the film is the commentary and exras. Being a long time fan of David MCCallum (now on CBS network NCIS), I was especially interested in his comments. Absolutely fascinating.

Maybe the motor cycle scene was put in for entertainment purposes. Wasn't it a great moment! Did you know Steve McQueen played his own part and several of the Nazi's on motorcycles.

Finally the Great Escape is based on a true story. This will tell you the reality from the fiction.

This is the edition to buy! They shouldn't remake it. They couldn't possibly make one as great as this!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you have the original DVD release SELL IT NOW!!!, June 28, 2004
By A Customer
Okay....All the extras are great...and there are MANY featurettes and interviews to keep you busy for hours....BUT..the main point I want to make is for all of you who don't care about extras and figure you already have this on DVD....you don't...
this transfer is AMAZING!!! it is a real HIGH DEFINITION transfer and STUNNING is what they say on the case and its true! Many DVDs say digitally transfered....and often that just means they pulled it from a previously issued laserdisc via digital output...you have never seen this movie this pristine....EVER!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Special Edition not special enough, October 8, 2008
By 
fungo (Toronto, ON CA) - See all my reviews
This is yet another five-star film reduced to a three-star DVD. And I'm talking about the latest remastered Special Edition. While this version has, at last, been mastered in anamorphic widescreen (unlike the previous letterboxed release), and received at least a semblance of the extras it needs, basic video quality still leaves a great deal to be desired.

The image on this transfer is sharp and clear, but flesh tones are over-saturated, with an unnatural orange look. Also, the image has far too much contrast, leading to constant burned-out highlights on people's foreheads. This isn't the worst transfer I've ever seen (for that, check out the various "collectors'" editions of The Quiet Man), but it is far from definitive, and shamefully inferior to what this great film deserves.

To add further insult, the case features a flimsy hinged center mount for the extra disc. This arrived broken, so that the case was effectively useless for safe storage.

After my enormous disappointment with the original release, and the glowing descriptions I'd read of this 'fixed' version, I had expected much better. My advice: wait for some future, properly-mastered Blu-ray edition to become as cheap as this DVD. Maybe by then the movie industry will have grown weary of abusing movie fans with one slipshod "special" release after another.
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The Great Escape [Blu-ray]
The Great Escape [Blu-ray] by John Sturges (Blu-ray - 2013)
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