Monday Morning Humor: The Great Escape

Monday Morning Humor: The Great Escape December 10, 2012

Since yesterday’s post was devoted to Steve McQueen, I thought today I would revisit some classic comic moments from one of his most enjoyable films, The Great Escape. Featuring the same director, several of the same actors, and even the same composer who made The Magnificent Seven, it too was an ensemble smash—just on an even bigger scale than that film. (Seven memorable characters? Raise you almost as many more and still leave you remembering every one of them months later.) There weren’t many critical awards for the film, but it’s widely considered the most fun war movie ever made and certainly has a devoted fan following to this day. That said, it’s a credit to the scope of the film that it mingles its fun with legitimately heavy drama, particularly during the sad closing hour or so. The same film that had you in stitches with the first half will move you to tears by the time it’s over. As in “No, not THAT guy! *uncontrollable bawling*” kind of tears.

But today, we’re just enjoying the fun parts, and someone has thoughtfully created a 10-minute montage of some of the best. Seriously, who can forget Steve McQueen’s baseball, or James Coburn’s laughably bad Australian accent, or that first sip of home-brewed potato liquor? I realize not everyone is a classic film geek like me and so none of this makes any sense to some of you, but if you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing this movie, well, I think I see several full-length versions in related vids (hint-hint). Meanwhile, these highlights should whet your appetite. Oh, and there’s a bit of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” involved in one of the last gags, so it’s even appropriate coming up to Christmas. Aren’t I clever?
(P.S. This is one of those rare and glorious war movies with NO LOVE INTEREST WHATSOEVER.)
“Are all American officers so ill-mannered?”
“Mmmmm, ’bout 99 percent.”

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  • Saved Girl

    Thanks so much for posting this. The Great Escape is one of my all time favorite movies. It truly is a classic and it’s humor is priceless in its dry, quiet sort of way. It’s actually the only movie I’ve seen Steve McQueen in, but he was definitely my favorite character and I really enjoyed reading the story of his conversion. God is indeed merciful.
    Thanks again for the video. I am not often able to watch it since many in my family don’t like all the dying that happens in the end.

  • Oh I’m so glad I rekindled some old memories for someone! I remember watching it for the first time like it was yesterday. I remember being astonished at how memorable every character was. They’re each a little bit different, but you love them all. Also, the motorcycle chase. ‘Nuff said.
    I love the Brit/American humor dynamic, it’s like you get the best of both sides of the Atlantic! Your family sounds like my mom—she doesn’t like books or movies with sad endings. I have to admit that this one does end up being sort of a downer though. (For one thing, how cruel is it to kill off BOTH of the Scottish characters??) But I think it’s well-rounded.
    If you like this one, definitely check out _The Magnificent Seven_, also sad but great fun in its own way (it’s based on _Seven Samurai_ which everyone says is the greatest film ever, but it doesn’t sound as fun so I guess I’m a hick for not having seen it). As for other McQueen films…. hmmmm. A lot of them are kind of grim/unpleasant so I say stick with those two. [nodding emoticon here] I’m partial to the cop drama _Bullitt_ but there are a few dead bodies and such. But the music… and the car chase. ‘Nuff said, again.
    Glad you enjoyed my re-telling of McQueen’s conversion story as well. I was floored when I discovered it. It’s been covered in bios and such, but I like to tell things in my own way. 🙂

  • Saved Girl

    Oh yes, the motorcycle chase definitely makes the movie. It just wouldn’t be the same without it.

  • I know!! I watched it with commentary and they pointed out that the moment when you see the swarm of Germans, you realize that the escape has accomplished its purpose, in a sense. The idea all along was to distract men from the war. All those soldiers to take out one guy. And that moment at the end when he’s all tangled up, but he stands and shows his rank badge with that defiant little smirk. You realize why they called him the King of Cool.
    We have McQueen himself to thank for the entire sequence, because it wasn’t even in the original script. He insisted they write it in for his character and was confident it would be great, which of course, it was. The iconic fence jump was, however, performed by stuntman Bud Ekins. Even though Steve would correct people who credited it to him, some people still think that’s really Steve. Alas, the insurance company had something to say about that.

  • Oh hey, lookie what I found: A website giving details on the real-life inspirations for some of the main characters, including McQueen’s. There was a real guy who actually played with his baseball in the cooler, attempted a stupid blitz-out, made his own liquor, etc. Too cool!