Friday, December 07, 2012

THE GREATEST ESCAPE

Before Goldfinger and Funeral in Berlin, Guy Hamilton directed The Colditz Story, which arguably created the template which every other POW camp film followed. Released in 1955, and based on PR Reid's account of the prison in Germany which was designed to hold Allied prisoners of war who had attempted to escape from every other prison they were held in, The Colditz Story is released at last on Blu-ray thanks to Studio Canal. A phenomenal cast that includes John Mills (as Reid himself), Lionel Jeffries, Bryan Forbes and Anton Diffring, Hamilton displays the deft hand he has with actors and script that he showed to great effect in his later work. The tension between the various Allied camps (British, French and American) is palpable and it is well paced and exciting. The members of the cast acquit themselves well although perhaps it is John Mills who stands out here. Accompanying the film is a fascinating documentary about the real Colditz, a menacing German castle, and the various escapees over the years, which makes you realise that, despite the fact that some of the escapes in the film seem outlandish, the truth is sometimes even more unbelievable. The Colditz Story is an important and seminal British film which deserves its Blu-ray release and the transfer is crisp and clear. For anyone who has seen The Great Escape, the TV series Colditz from the early seventies or anything else that covers similar ground and wants to see the progenitor of the Second World War POW camp movie, this is the grandaddy of them all…

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