Musings & Thoughts for Tuesday, January 11, 2022, or: Good Things – and ‘Great Escapes’ – Come in Small Packages

Hey, there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in Lithia, Florida, on Tuesday, January 11, 2022. It is a chilly winter day here in west-central Florida, though it’s bound to warm up a bit as the day progresses. Currently, the temperature is 58˚F (15˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 68% and the wind blowing from the north-northeast at 11 MPH (18 KM/H), the wind-chill factor is 56˚F (13˚C). Today’s forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 73˚F (23˚C). Tonight, skies will be partly cloudy. The low will be 54˚F (12˚C).

Today I am expecting my Amazon order – made in November – of the Kino Lorber 4K UHD edition of The Great Escape. This is a 2-disc set with John Sturges’ now-classic WWII drama based on Paul Brickhill’s account of a mass escape attempt by Allied airmen – mostly from the British Commonwealth – from a German prisoner-of-war camp in March of 1944.

(C) 2022 Kino Lorber. The Great Escape (C) 1963 The Mirisch Company and MGM-United Artists

Released in July of 1963 and starring Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen, James Garner, David McCallum, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, James Donald, Gordon Jackson, and Donald Pleasence, The Great Escape was one of that year’s biggest box office hits. It earned $11.7 million dollars ($106,274,235.29 in today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation) on a budget of 3.8 million ($34,516,418.30 in 2021 dollars.[1] Nominated for various awards for movies released in 1963 (including Best Picture at the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards),The Great Escape earned Steve McQueen the Best Actor award at the Moscow International Film Festival and a spot on the National Board of Review’s Top Ten Movies of the Year.

Although The Great Escape gives the true story of the breakout from Stalag Luft III the “Hollywood treatment” (focusing on American characters, featuring a large contingent of American actors to attract large numbers of U.S. moviegoers and heavily fictionalizing the situation), nevertheless it’s one of my favorite movies. It’s the first film I remember seeing in a movie theater (at age six…in Bogota, Colombia), and I used to watch it on Miami’s then-independent TV station, WCIX (Channel Six) when it was aired as a weekend movie back in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

I don’t recall owning The Great Escape on VHS videocassette, but I do own it on DVD – it was one of the earliest purchases I made on Amazon back in the 2000s. I also have a 1080p Blu-ray that is included in The Steve McQueen Collection, a four-film box set that also offers The Magnificent Seven, The Sand Pebbles, and The Thomas Crown Affair. And even though it’s a triple dip, I decided to buy the 4K UHD version when I saw it advertised as being ready for pre-order back in November. (I got it for $27.99; the regular price is $39.99.)

(C) 2022 Kino Lorber. The Great Escape (C) 1963 The Mirisch Company and MGM-United Artists

This is what the Kino Lorber edition of The Great Escape offers:

Screen legend Steve McQueen (Bullitt) slams his motorcycle into high gear and leads the way in this action-packed classic about a group of Allied POWs who attempt one of the largest and most daring breakouts in history. A masterful collaboration between director John Sturges (Bad Day at Black Rock), screenwriters James Clavell (The Satan Bug) and W.R. Burnett (Little Caesar) and composer Elmer Bernstein (The Magnificent Seven), The Great Escape is one of the most ingenious and suspenseful adventure films of all time! As World War II rages on, the Germans open Stalag Luft III, a maximum security prisoner-of-war camp, designed to hold even the craftiest escape artists. In doing so, however, the Nazis unwittingly assemble the finest escape team in military history. Together, under the guidance of the brilliant Bartlett (Richard Attenborough, Brighton Rock), the resourceful Hendley (James Garner, Support Your Local Sheriff) and the steely, determined Hilts (McQueen), the men plot, scheme and dig their way to freedom…at any cost! Charles Bronson (Breakheart Pass), James Coburn (A Fistful of Dynamite), Donald Pleasence (The Black Windmill), James Donald (The Bridge on the River Kwai) and David McCallum (Mosquito Squadron) fill out the iconic cast of this spectacular, true-life blockbuster. The Great Escape received a 1964 Academy Award nomination for Best Film Editing (Ferris Webster, The Manchurian Candidate) and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture—Drama.

Special Features:
-NEW Audio Commentary by Filmmaker/Historian Steve Mitchell and Combat Films: American Realism Author Steven Jay Rubin
-Audio Commentary with Director John Sturges, Actors James Garner, James Coburn, Donald Pleasence, David McCallum, Jud Taylor and Many other Crew Members – Moderated by Steven Jay Rubin
-5.1 Surround & Original 2.0 Mono
-Optional English Subtitles
-UHD100 Triple Layer Disc

-Return to THE GREAT ESCAPE: Making of the Classic with the Cast and Crew (24:09)
-THE GREAT ESCAPE: Bringing Fact to Fiction – Narrated by Burt Reynolds (12:21)
-THE GREAT ESCAPE: Preparations for Freedom – Narrated by Burt Reynolds (19:50)
-THE GREAT ESCAPE: The Flight to Freedom – Narrated by Burt Reynolds (9:22)
-THE GREAT ESCAPE: A Standing Ovation – Narrated by Burt Reynolds (5:58)
-The Real Virgil Hilts: A Man Called Jones – Narrated by James Coburn (25:01)
-THE GREAT ESCAPE: The Untold Story – Documentary by Steven Clarke (50:47)
-THE GREAT ESCAPE: The Untold Story – Additional Interviews (9:35)
-Theatrical Trailer (2:42)

As I write this, my package with The Great Escape is at an Amazon facility in Seffner, which is not too far away from Lithia. By the time this post is published, I expect it will be loaded into an Amazon Prime van and will arrive here by midafternoon.   

Other than that, Dear Reader, I don’t have much to report. My order of the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan 2-CD album is still scheduled to arrive tomorrow, so that’s going according to plan. Otherwise, it’s just another day here – uneventful and unexciting.

And on that note, I’ll close for now. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

[1] Inflation comparisons for 2022 are not available on Inflation Checker since it’s still early January and price increase data has not yet been collected. On February 12, Inflation Checker will start comparisons between 2022 and previous years.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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