The Great Escape: Criterion release today 5/12

The long-awaited Criterion release of John Sturges’ 1963 classic The Great Escape is now available for order. The release includes a number of special features: a couple of different audio commentaries, one done in 1991 by Sturges and Elmer Bernstein (who did the immortal score, which – once it’s in your head it will never leave), and one done in 1993 by actors James Coburn, James Garner, and Donald Pleasence. Also an interview with Michael Sragow (an excellent critic, whose work often appears in Film Comment, wonderful writer). There’s also a four-part documentary … and more! The film has come out so many times in anniversary editions, and so this Criterion release puts together much of the material spread out over 4 or 5 different releases into one place.

I wrote the booklet essay for this release, and it’s included in the DVD/Blu package, but it’s also online. I LOVE the title of my essay (I can’t take credit for it): Not Caught.

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3 Responses to The Great Escape: Criterion release today 5/12

  1. sheila says:

    Carolyn – if you read this, I saw that you had commented over at Criterion – I loved reading your memory of the film, I was happy to hear of your affection for this film – and I just want to thank you for commenting over there. It’s meaningful just in terms of the “optics” – for the editors over there and others – to “show” people engaging with my work – and I know you didn’t do it for that reason, but I really appreciate it. This stuff does matter to a freelance writer. Thank you!

  2. Read your essay, went home and watched the movie for the zillionth time. Damn it is good– but it kinda seems like two different movies. There is the ensemble part and the Steve MCQueen movie. I sort of wonder how much McQueen was even around during the filming.

    • sheila says:

      Bill – thanks for reading and commenting!

      Funny that you should say that about McQueen – he threw a tantrum about his part after seeing a rough cut of some of the dailies – he felt that he was barely in it – because he was so separate from the ensemble, who got all the action in the preparatory stages because he was stuck in the cooler. Everyone remembered that tantrum. Of course, in the end, everyone who’s seen the movie remembers Hilts – not just his motorcycle chase but the whole ATTITUDE encapsulates the film

      And secondly! Because the entire cast was over in Germany for the whole shoot – and because it was such a big ensemble – nobody was filming every day. People had a lot of time off. Nobody hung around on set, they all basically scattered out throughout Europe, to go sightseeing, to meet up with girls, to go skiing, whatever. John Sturges and the producers were terrified of people not returning – or of losing track of their whole damn cast – so they put up a huge map of Europe on the wall, with pushpins indicating where everyone was on the continent at any given time.

      So basically they all were roving around, which I just think is so funny!

      again, thanks again for commenting! The response to my essay has been really positive and that means a lot to me – I had it in my head the whole time I was writing it how important this movie is to its fans (myself included). It was important to me to attempt to express WHY.

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