The Great Escape II: The Untold Story (1988)


Introduction

The Great Escape II: The Untold Story is a 1988 American made-for-television action-adventure drama film and a sequel to The Great Escape (1963) starring Christopher Reeve, Judd Hirsch, Anthony Denison, Ian McShane, Charles Haid and Donald Pleasence in a supporting role (in the 1963 original Pleasence had played Flight-Lieutenant Colin Blythe, “The Forger”).

The film was directed by Jud Taylor (in the 1963 original Taylor had played 2nd Lt. Goff).

The Great Escape II premiered in two parts on NBC on 06 and 07 November 1988.

Outline (Background)

The Great Escape II is not a true sequel, as it dramatises the escape itself just as the original film does, although mostly using the real names of the individuals involved (whereas the original film fictionalised them and used composite characters).

The murder of the prisoners in this film is more accurate than in the 1963 original, with the POW’s being shot individually or in pairs, but other portions of the film are fictional. It depicts the search for those responsible for the murder of the Allied officers, and the subsequent trials.

The film features the exploits of Major Johnnie Dodge (played by Christopher Reeve), an American-born British Army officer and cousin of Winston Churchill, and largely follows his journey to freedom after the escape.

The second half of the film is based on the post-war investigation into the murders of fifty of the escapees by the Gestapo, conducted by Dodge and two fictional Americans (whereas in fact it was conducted by the Royal Air Force Special Investigation Branch).

Outline (Film)

A former POW leads a special task force to hunt down the culprits responsible for carrying out the orders to murder 50 of the 76 escapees from Stalag Luft III.

Cast

  • Christopher Reeve – Major John Dodge.
  • Judd Hirsch – Captain David Matthews.
  • Anthony Denison – Lieutenant Mike Corery.
  • Ian McShane – Roger Bushell.
  • Charles Haid – Sergeant MacKenzie.
  • Donald Pleasence – Dr. Absalon.
  • Michael Nader – Burchardt.
  • Derek de Lint – Dr. Thost.
  • Andrew Bicknell – Wings Day.
  • Karlheinz Lemken – Herr Schmidt.
  • Ron Donachie – Al Hake.
  • Peter Dennis – Group Captain Herbert Massey.
  • Geoffrey Beevers – Jim Kitteridge.
  • Christopher Neame – Kiowski.
  • Dominic Gould – Jules.
  • Brian Pettifer – Kirby-Green.
  • Ian Redford – Willie.
  • Bill Wallis – Schatz.
  • Ludwig Haas – Adolf Hitler.

Trivia

  • Donald Pleasence (Dr. Absalon) is the only actor to appear in both this film and The Great Escape (1963), in which he played the would-be escape Blythe.
  • Ian McShane’s character, Roger Bushell, was the real-life inspiration for Roger Bartlett (Richard Attenborough) in The Great Escape (1963).
    • This same year, McShane appeared in War and Remembrance (1988) with Karl-Otto Alberty, who had appeared in the original Great Escape film.
    • Also appearing in War and Remembrance was Jane Seymour, who was previously married to Attenborough’s son.
    • She was preceded in her role by Ali MacGraw, who was previously married to Steve McQueen.
    • Karl-Otto Alberty appeared in all three films.
  • In this movie, the Stalag Luft III Commandant von Lindeiner-Wildau is taken to Berlin and shot.
    • In actuality he feigned mental illness to avoid imprisonment, and later wounded by Soviet troops.
    • He surrendered to the British, sent to a POW Camp in England, and repatriated in 1947.
    • He died in 1963 aged 82.
  • The film was nominated for the Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Special award at the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Paul Wendkos and Jud Taylor.
  • Producer(s): Michael Jaffe and Jud Taylor.
  • Writer(s): Walter Halsey Davis.
  • Music: Johnny Mandel.
  • Cinematography: Dietrich Lohmann.
  • Editor(s): Christopher Cooke and Paul LaMastra.
  • Production: Michael Jaffe Films.
  • Distributor(s): NBC.
  • Release Date: 06 November 1988 to 07 November 1988.
  • Running Time: 178 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

 

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