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The Real Great Escape - 75th Anniversary


Bogie56
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In London the RAF is sponsoring special screenings of The Great Escape to mark the 75th Anniversary of the prison break.  It was announced today that Jack Lyon who was awaiting his turn in the tunnel when the escape was discovered has just past away at the age of 101.  Of the 76 POW's who escaped 50 were caught and executed under direct orders by Hitler.

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I saw this bit of news about Mr. Lyon's recent passing just last night on the net, Bogie.

Seems he wasn't a big fan of the movie, as reportedly he was want to point out that in actuality there were no American POWs located at the Stalag this famed escape took place, among many other fictitious accounts shown within the movie.

(...such as McQueen's whole motorcycle sequences)

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20 minutes ago, Dargo said:

I saw this bit of news about Mr. Lyon's recent passing just last night on the net, Bogie.

Seems he wasn't a big fan of the movie, as reportedly he was want to point out that in actuality there were no American POWs located at the Stalag this famed escape took place, among many other fictitious accounts shown within the movie.

(...such as McQueen's whole motorcycle sequences)

I guess this depends upon the definition of "American POW" and "located." One of the prisoners was American George Harsh, who had enlisted in the Canadian Royal Air Force. He helped in the planning of the escape, but was moved from the camp shortly before it happened. Harsh was an ex-con, having spent time in prison for killing someone during a robbery. He wrote the forward for Paul Brickhill's book upon which the film is based. I still have the book, and it's a great read. As I recall, exactly three men successfully escaped, and the film got that right.

As for the motorcycle sequence, yes, that is total bulls***. But it's great to watch.

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His criticisms of the film may be accurate but the film made that story an iconic event.  The screenings in the UK will be proceeded by a simulcast dedication of some sort.  I've booked my seats.  According to my film diary it will be the 19th time I have seen it (every date recorded).  And the last time I saw it was way back in 2008.  I saw it 10 times in my teenage years.  McQueen was my hero back then.

Hey Dargo, did you ever have that Popular Science with McQueen on his bike on the cover?  That was the only copy of PS that I ever bought.

Steve+McQueen+Popular+Mechanics.jpg

 

 

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11 hours ago, Bogie56 said:

His criticisms of the film may be accurate but the film made that story an iconic event.  The screenings in the UK will be proceeded by a simulcast dedication of some sort.  I've booked my seats.  According to my film diary it will be the 19th time I have seen it (every date recorded).  And the last time I saw it was way back in 2008.  I saw it 10 times in my teenage years.  McQueen was my hero back then.

Hey Dargo, did you ever have that Popular Science with McQueen on his bike on the cover?  That was the only copy of PS that I ever bought.

Steve+McQueen+Popular+Mechanics.jpg

 

 

So you're headed to the UK for this event then, eh Bogie? Very cool!

Yes, Sturges' film may not be factually correct in some regards, but it's so well done that it's still a classic, regardless. And Elmer Bernstein's score couldn't be better, to boot!

And re the PS magazine cover with McQueen here...I don't recall ever having that particular edition of it, although I do remember picking up the occasional copy of that mag off the newsstands from time to time back then.

The bike McQueen is astride there looks to be his Triumph 650cc-powered Rickman Metisse, if I'm not mistaken. He would become quite well associated with these special-built machines back then.

0caf48c96982459c9371fbb02ee0efb6--steve-

Here's Steve and his first wife Neile Adams with the bike, circa 1966.

(...in fact, he would become so well associated with this type of motorcycle that just a few years ago his son Chad was asked to help promote a new batch of them being made when the Rickman Brothers of England decided to begin to remake them)

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WHEW!

When I saw this thread's title, and knowing it's a MOVIE forum, I worried that the movie might be older than I thought!  :o  And that would mean too, since I saw it at the theater when it came out, that was older than I thought!  :blink:

And I'll only go along far enough with the poster above me that the movie was one of McQueen's best performances,  but as it wasn't really a Steve McQueen MOVIE, I'll give props to the rest of the cast, who also did some fine work.

Sepiatone

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richard-attenborough-the-great-escape.pn

Richard Attenborough as Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett, DFC RAF.  Attenborough became good friends with McQueen during the filming.  He later joked that McQueen was responsible for getting him the role of "Frenchy" in The Sand Pebbles.  

When I was young, a friend and I used to take turns greeting one another with "Barlett" spoken through gritted teeth in a German accent as Hans Reiser did on the train platform when he spots "Big X."  Not that long ago Lord Attenborough, was kind enough to sign a Oh, What a Lovely War poster for me.  He lived and worked not far from me in London.

 

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3 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

WHEW!

When I saw this thread's title, and knowing it's a MOVIE forum, I worried that the movie might be older than I thought!  :o  And that would mean too, since I saw it at the theater when it came out, that was older than I thought!  :blink:

And I'll only go along far enough with the poster above me that the movie was one of McQueen's best performances,  but as it wasn't really a Steve McQueen MOVIE, I'll give props to the rest of the cast, who also did some fine work.

Sepiatone

That’s what I thought too. I didn’t remember being like 90 years old but I do feel like that age from time to time.

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a2bec802349abf5200debce6e6cf2223.jpg

James Garner as Flight lieutenant Robert 'Bob' Hendley, DFC RAF aka 'the Scrounger.'  Some time in the 80's I had occasion to spend a bit of time with James Garner in the studio.  At one point I signalled that we were ready for a take with "tallyho."  I thought perhaps it might amuse him but it really fell flat.  He just looked at me blankly and carried on.  :lol:

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On ‎3‎/‎14‎/‎2019 at 9:13 AM, ClassicMovies_fan_chick said:

One of the greatest Action and True Story films of all time.

Also one of Steve McQueen's best films!

 

he shoulda been nominated for PAPPILON  his sole nom was for THE SAND PEBBLES though

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I've always wanted to go to Scott's Bar in Piccadilly and have one for Gordon Jackson who planned to go there when he had escaped home.  Anyone wishing to do the same should note that it has moved to Mayfair and is a rather upscale oyster seafood restaurant.

Scott's began as an Oyster 'Warehouse' in 1872.  Author Ian Fleming used to frequent the Piccadilly/Haymarket  bar and it is rumoured that it was here that he overheard someone say "shaken not stirred."

scotts.jpg?imwidth=1240

 

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MV5BMjE0NzkyNzk2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjg4

If you ever wondered what happened to Jud Taylor (1932-2008) who played Goff (above centre) he retired from acting shortly after The Great Escape to become a successful television director.  One of his many series happened to be Star Trek.

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1 hour ago, Bogie56 said:

If you ever wondered what happened to Jud Taylor (1932-2008) who played Goff (above centre) he retired from acting shortly after The Great Escape to become a successful television director.  One of his many series happened to be Star Trek.

He directed the TV movie City of Fear (1980) which I watched and reviewed in the Just Watched thread recently. He had his name taken off of it after the producers added some more violent scenes to spice things up, after shooting had completed and without Taylor's knowledge. The movie was Mickey Rourke's first filmed role, and David Janssen's last.

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https://www.eventimapollo.com/events/detail/the-great-escape#h7BjCAD4X45uAXkW.97

Above is the link to the event which was held last night, March 24th to mark the 75th Anniversary of the actual escape.  It was held at the Hammersmith Apollo and transmitted live to Odeon theatres around the UK.  I saw a simulcast of the event which was followed by the 1963 film.

Dan Snow was the host who mentioned that it would be on his history channel so perhaps one might be able to find it on the internet.

It was quite an evening.  They had video interviews with several of the survivors and clip from a South African biography of Roger Bushell, the real Big X.  One gentleman read a very touching letter his father wrote to his mother before he went into the tunnel (not mentioning the escape of course).  His father was one of the 50 and he last saw him when he was 5.

I also learned that 5 Canadian airmen were among the 50.  After the war 9 Germans were prosecuted for the murders and some if not all were hung.

Getting to the movie, actor John Leyton was there and David McCallum sent along a very warm video message from the set of his American crime television show.  Both credited the film as putting their careers on the map.  McQueen's Triumph TR6 (Dargo, I hope I got that right) was on stage and its owner introduced one of the stunt riders, Tim Gibbs who had made the journey from New Zealand.  Gibbs did the wire stunt as the German rider.  He recounted how he McQueen and Bud Ekins built the ramp for the famous fence jump.  McQueen had commented that he was probably the best paid ditch digger in the world.  Gibbs tried the jump first then they filmed Ekins doing it.  McQueen had wanted to do the jump but was prohibited from doing so by the producers.  He always credited Ekins with the jump.  

Actor, Will Attentborough read from his grandfather's autobiography about the last meeting he had with Steve McQueen.

And the film looked incredible.  What a big part Bernstein's score plays.

I  was wrong when I credited Gordon Jackson as suggesting Scott's Bar.  It was McCallum's Ashley-Pitt who says just before he goes up the tunnel ladder, "see you in Piccadilly."  Attenborough's Big X replies, "Scott's Bar."

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13 hours ago, Bogie56 said:

https://www.eventimapollo.com/events/detail/the-great-escape#h7BjCAD4X45uAXkW.97

Above is the link to the event which was held last night, March 24th to mark the 75th Anniversary of the actual escape.  It was held at the Hammersmith Apollo and transmitted live to Odeon theatres around the UK.  I saw a simulcast of the event which was followed by the 1963 film.

Dan Snow was the host who mentioned that it would be on his history channel so perhaps one might be able to find it on the internet.

It was quite an evening.  They had video interviews with several of the survivors and clip from a South African biography of Roger Bushell, the real Big X.  One gentleman read a very touching letter his father wrote to his mother before he went into the tunnel (not mentioning the escape of course).  His father was one of the 50 and he last saw him when he was 5.

I also learned that 5 Canadian airmen were among the 50.  After the war 9 Germans were prosecuted for the murders and some if not all were hung.

Getting to the movie, actor John Leyton was there and David McCallum sent along a very warm video message from the set of his American crime television show.  Both credited the film as putting their careers on the map.  McQueen's Triumph TR6 (Dargo, I hope I got that right) was on stage and its owner introduced one of the stunt riders, Tim Gibbs who had made the journey from New Zealand.  Gibbs did the wire stunt as the German rider.  He recounted how he McQueen and Bud Ekins built the ramp for the famous fence jump.  McQueen had commented that he was probably the best paid ditch digger in the world.  Gibbs tried the jump first then they filmed Ekins doing it.  McQueen had wanted to do the jump but was prohibited from doing so by the producers.  He always credited Ekins with the jump.  

Actor, Will Attentborough read from his grandfather's autobiography about the last meeting he had with Steve McQueen.

And the film looked incredible.  What a big part Bernstein's score plays.

I  was wrong when I credited Gordon Jackson as suggesting Scott's Bar.  It was McCallum's Ashley-Pitt who says just before he goes up the tunnel ladder, "see you in Piccadilly."  Attenborough's Big X replies, "Scott's Bar."

Nice write-up here, Bogie.

Yes, you got the make and model of the motorcycle used for the famous jump scene correct, btw. Word is that when Bud Ekins showed up to the set in Bavaria by McQueen's invitation to perform the stunt for him, Ekins said there was no way it could be performed on a heavier German-built BMW motorcycle, the kind the German army would have ridden during the war. And so the lighter British-made Triumph TR6 model was purchased and made to look as much like a German army issue motorcycle as much as it could.

The-Great-Escape-Triumph.jpg

 

Here's a short video with Bud explaining a bit about the stunt and a narrator explaining how the stunt was filmed...

(...btw, I met an older Bud Ekins as few times over the years at various classic motorcycle venues in SoCal. He was in his seventies at the time and fairly frail by then. Bud died 2007 at age 77, and a few months after his death a few of my motorcycle riding buddies and I attended a very nice tribute to him that was held at the Warner Brothers studio lot in Burbank CA and open to the public)

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22 hours ago, Dargo said:

(...btw, I met an older Bud Ekins as few times over the years at various classic motorcycle venues in SoCal. He was in his seventies at the time and fairly frail by then. Bud died 2007 at age 77, and a few months after his death a few of my motorcycle riding buddies and I attended a very nice tribute to him that was held at the Warner Brothers studio lot in Burbank CA and open to the public)

Thanks for that video Dargo.  The owner of the Triumph TR6  said that they used 3 bikes in the film and the way that he identified the actual jump bike was that it still had its green paint on it.  The other two had been painted dark grey to make them look more like German bikes.  He tracked it down to a farm in England.  It was in a shed.  The owner had used it in his fields.

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