The Great Escape

Question: What village is McQueen in after stealing the motorcycle? He is stopped by a Nazi solder, but sped away when unable to answer in German. Would this have been located in the village of Eisenberg?

Answer: According to the movie's production info on Wikipedia, most of the exterior scenes, including the motorcycle chases, were filmed in and around the German town of F├╝ssen.

raywest Premium member

Question: In the scenes in which the POWs use the bags inside their trousers to distribute tunnel dirt over the compound, how do they put the pins back into the bags? It seems like a pain in the butt to have to take the bags out, just to put them back in, just to take them back out, etc.

Cubs Fan Premium member

Chosen answer: The movie is based on a true story and depicts actual events. After dispersing the dirt, the POWs simply removed the bags from their pants, reinserted the pins, and put the filled bags back inside their trousers again. Of course it was a pain, but what other options did they have? Little or none. Carrying out a secret operation in a POW camp with few resources, they worked with what they had, and made what they had work.

raywest Premium member

Question: At the scene where Bartlett is running away from the pursuing Germans in the town, a car stops him. Bartlett says something in a foreign language to the German who steps out the car which makes the Germans drive away. Could someone please tell me what is said in the Bartlett/German conversation and what language does Bartlett speak in.

Answer: It's German, although I can't quite make it all out. The Germans tell him to stop (sounds like one says "hey you" in English). He asks what this is all about and, in English, the soldier accuses him of being English. Bartlett acts offended at the idea, and at being threatened with a pistol. The soldier then asks if he's German, he says something in the affirmative, and the soldiers apologize as they climb back in the car.

It sounds like the last line from the German Officer is" Free to Go" in English.

Answer: I am German and just watched the movie. From memory the conversation went something like this: German guard talks in English and Bartlett responded in German "English? What are you thinking?" German guard: "Oh so you're German?" Bartlett: "Yes why! Of course I am German. What is the meaning of this? Threatening me with this pistol?" German guard: "Well all right then." And they leave him alone. Although his accent would have given him away, it's a lot less strong than most English people's German, but still noticeable.

Question: Who is the actor playing the very tall cooler guard? Has he appeared in any other films?

Answer: His name is Trevor Wood, apparently rather than acting again, he went on to become a solicitor and partner in several London law firms.

Sierra1 Premium member

Question: When Roger is explaining the escape plan, he says that Tom will run under the vorlager, the cooler, and the wire. The cooler and the wire are obvious, but what's the vorlager?

Cubs Fan

Chosen answer: Vorlage is German for "forward position," so this likely refers to either the main gate, or a machine gun nest.

Captain Defenestrator

Question: Why is Hilts the only prisoner out of the 11 or so who are returned to the camp after the great escape the *only* one to be sent to the Cooler? Shouldn't the other escapees be sent there, too?

Answer: The other escapees undoubtedly faced some sort of punishment - Hilts was singled out for the Cooler as he caused the most disruption while free.

Tailkinker Premium member

Answer: Hilts was a habitual prison camp escapee. No matter how many times he was recaptured and punished, he continued to escape, agitating the Germans. He was called the "Cooler King" because of how much time he spent in isolation. That is likely why his punishment was swifter and more severe than the other prisoners.

raywest Premium member

Question: How come Hilts could not answer the German at the end of the movie when he said he could speak German to Colonel von Luger?

Answer: He could have only known a small amount of German, enough to answer a question or two, but not enough to carry on a full conversation. Also, the German seemed to be wanting to have a full conversation with him. He was on the run and didn't have time to talk. He was most likely being a smart ass saying he knew German.

Answer: .And, just to add to the previous answer: even if he could speak conversational German, he would likely do so with a very strong American accent (as he does when he speaks the few words to the Commandant earlier), so the guard would have picked up on that right away, anyway.

Factual error: Why is Hilts not wearing a uniform? A serving officer captured behind enemy lines in civilian clothing risked being shot as a spy. If a prisoner's uniform was too worn or damaged to wear, it was routine for the German authorities to replace it - a P.O.W. in civilian clothes is an obvious escape risk. He is wearing a pair of tan chinos, a cut off sloppy Joe sweatshirt, both ridiculously anachronistic - Sixties hipster fashions - and nowhere even close to a World War 2 uniform. He is also wearing Army Type III Service boots - something that would never have been issued to a fighter pilot.

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: The character of Hilts was based (in part) on the life of a British OSS agent who managed to pass as pilot by stealing a flight jacket (revealed in the DVD). We can only assume that since the Germans believed the camp was escape-proof, it didn't matter what Hilts was wearing, since he wouldn't be going anywhere.

Cobblers. Hilts is wearing casual clothing typical of the time the film was shot, not when it was set. No prisoner of war would be dressed the way he was. The posting is correct.

I've always assumed that the actor, Steve McQueen, insisted on the outfit so he would look hip per his image. He had a reputation for being a prima donna on set.

More mistakes in The Great Escape

Col. Von Luger: Group Captain Ramsey, in the past four years the Reich has been forced to spend an enormous amount of time, energy, manpower and equipment hunting down prisoner of war officers.
Group Capt. Ramsey: At least it's rather nice to know you're wanted, isn't it?

More quotes from The Great Escape
More trivia for The Great Escape

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.