We've all heard the saying, "do one thing and do it well". This film does exactly that. It's an escape movie. Period. No contrite romances. No musical interludes, but it does include singing of Christmas carols which also qualifies this film as a holiday movie (a recent poll put This movie as the number 3 favourite Christmas movie in Britain). What's more, this was an all-star cast in 1963. Richard Attenborough as Big X, we know him as the old guy from Jurassic Park. Steve McQueen, who sadly passed well before his time. James Coburn, Charles Bronson, James Garner, David McCallum, and the list goes on. Personally, when I see The Great Escape on TV, I can't turn it off. It can't be ruined by what I call "cableization". To cableize a movie is to edit out all obscenities, violence, and nipples to make a feature more family friendly. The Great Escape is safe from that as it came out in the early 60's and was not directed by Stanley Kubrick.
No computer graphics. None. In fact, Steve McQueen performs most of his motorcycle stunts with the exception of the final jump which is done by a stuntman. For our younger readers, stuntmen were people who performed the more dangerous stunts called for in the production of a piece of cinema. Before computer graphics, filmmakers had to be innovative and skilled. Weird, right? Anyway, I think the point of this post was supposed to be why The Great Escape is awesome. It's awesome because it's understated, sharply written, simple in nature, and well executed. Have a look sometime.