The Great Escape (1963) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Great Escape1963

The Great Escape (1963)



Critic Consensus: With its impeccably slow-building story and a cast for the ages, The Great Escape is an all-time action classic.

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Movie Info

Based on the book by Paul Brickhill, The Great Escape is the true story of Allied prisoners plotting to break out of Nazi detention camp. Bartlett (Richard Attenborough) is the British officer who masterminds the escape. Out of 250 prisoners, only 76 manage to escape, and the number soon dwindles to two dozen. Hilts (Steve McQueen) and company must get through Nazi occupied territory, which is the premise for most of the film. McQueen rides a motorcycle through heavy gunfire in a spectacular action sequence to avoid certain death at the hands of the enemy. James Garner, Donald Pleasence, Charles Bronson and James Coburn also star in this exciting, suspenseful action adventure. Although he had appeared in other previous film, this is the one that brought superstar status to Steve McQueen. The handsome, brooding actor performed all his own stunts in the action sequences in the type of action adventure film that became McQueen's trademark.

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Steve McQueen
as Virgil Hilts
James Garner
as Hendley
James Donald
as Senior Officer Ramsey
Charles Bronson
as Danny Velinski
James Coburn
as Sedgwick
David McCallum
as Ashley-Pitt
Gordon Jackson
as MacDonald
Angus Lennie
as "The Mole" Ives
Nigel Stock
as Cavendish
Robert Desmond
as "The Tailor" Griffith
Tom Adams
as Nimmo
Hannes Messemer
as Von Luger
Harry Riebauer
as Strachwitz
Til Kiwe
as Frick
Ulrich Beiger
as Preissen
George Mikell
as Dietrich
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News & Interviews for The Great Escape

Critic Reviews for The Great Escape

All Critics (49) | Top Critics (10)

For all its missteps, when it comes to escapism, intrigue, and indulgence, you could do a whole lot worse than The Great Escape. Just watch it with an open eye.

February 21, 2019 | Full Review…

This is a Boys' Own Tale, and, as boys, we wanted it, cleansed of horrors, for ourselves.

April 23, 2014 | Full Review…

The Great Escape is simply great escapism.

February 6, 2014 | Full Review…
Top Critic

An exceptional story about teamwork.

December 28, 2010 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Producer-director John Sturges has fashioned a motion picture that entertains, captivates, thrills and stirs.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

Way too flabby at 168 minutes, but once this 1963 feature gets going it's good, solid stuff.

March 1, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Great Escape


The Bank holiday classic. Didn't watch it for ages but once I did I found it was a pretty good story loosely based on a true story of P.O.W.s escaping from their prison camp during the second world war.

Dean King
Dean King

Super Reviewer

There's some WW2 movies that go for the point of view of 1) some important job that HAS to be done, and/or (it could be both) there's the ones that go for 2) the horror of war. And then there's what I call the "I remember World War 2" films wherein the war is seen through the subtle patina of nostalgia. "Those were the good old days!" This film is solidly in the second camp, as if two hours into the 20 year high school reunion some slightly inebriated few begin to wax teary-eyed about the day of the big game oh those many years ago. One very nearly roots for the bad guys.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


By investing good part of its narrative in the many particulars of the great escape planning, this outstanding prison break movie increases our connection with a large gallery of memorable characters, making us deeply care about its consequences in a tense, breathtaking final act.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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